Applying for Italian Dual Citizenship through Female Ancestors

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italian students
Italian students - girls. Photo courtesy: Library of Congress.

My Italian Family, a U.S.-based company offering Italian dual citizenship services, helps us understand what the requirements are and what steps are needed in order to apply for Italian dual citizenship through the female line. 

The 1948 Rule

If you are applying for Italian Dual Citizenship through the "female" line, you may fall in the category of those born to an Italian female ancestor before 1948. For example: your mother's father was born in Italy; he did not become a naturalized US citizen before her birth which fulfills one of the qualification requirements, but because you were born before 1948, you do not qualify. Another common example:  you are starting with your grandmother’s father, then if your father (or mother) was born before 1948, you do not qualify. There is a way to overcome this and successfully apply.  

The problem all began with the 1912 Italian Citizenship Law (No. 555) granting Italian citizenship jure sanguinis stating that women could hold but not pass citizenship to their children.  However, in 1948 when Italy became a Republic, the newly written Constitution did allow for women to pass on citizenship but only to children born AFTER January 1, 1948. 

Several years ago, the Italian Supreme Court held that this provision is contrary to the Constitutional principles, particularly to the principle of equality between men and women (Judgement No. 4466/2009). Thus, also children who are born before 1948 to an Italian mother may file a motion to appeal the "1948 Rule" and obtain, if all other qualification requirements are met, Italian citizenship. 

NOTE: Even though the Italian Supreme Court ruled against the 1948 Rule, the Italian government has not yet chosen to modify or amend the current law. US Italian Consulates and other Italian Consulates outside of Italy strictly adhere to the current 1948 Rule and will probably continue to do so until the law is amended. Thus, if you fall into this category, the legal action to be filed at the Court House in Rome is your only way to obtain citizenship.

Involuntary Citizenship of Women through Marriage

To qualify for Italian Dual Citizenship, you must prove that your Italy-born Ancestor did not become a US citizen before the birth of the next of kin here in the US. But what if your Italian born “female” ancestor married her Italian born husband before Sept 22, 1922 and became a US citizen concurrently with him? 

With the U.S. Expatriation Act of 1907, women’s identity was cloaked in their husbands’ nationality. In other words, women followed the status civitatis of the man they married and automatically acquired US citizenship via marriage, without even taking the Oath of Allegiance. On September 22, 1922, the US Cable Act was passed and women no longer automatically became US Citizens by marriage.  

Based on the Italian Constitutional Court judgment n. 87 of 1975 and of the Italian Supreme Court judgment n. 4466 of 2009, women who acquired a foreign nationality “involuntarily and automatically” because of marriage, retain their Italian citizenship, and they are therefore able to transmit it to their children. Therefore, an Italian woman who automatically acquired citizenship through her husband (Prior to the 1922 Cable Act), according to the 2009 Court decision, would not have lost her original Italian citizenship (since she did not willingly renounce it) and could validly transfer it to subsequent generations.

In both cases, your only option is to file a lawsuit against the Italian Government in the Civil Courts in Rome on the basis that this 1948 law is “discriminatory against women” AND on the basis that your Italian born Female Ancestor acquired US citizenship “involuntarily and automatically” because of marriage, retained her Italian citizenship and was also able to pass it on to her children, no matter what year the child was born.

My Italian Family® TOGETHER with our affiliate Law Firm in Italy, Mazzeschi, can do all of this for you. During our years of collaboration, we have successfully assisted many applicants like you fulfill their dream of becoming an Italian Dual Citizen. Discover who we are by learning about our international Team of Experts who have the right qualifications and experience to take you through this very complex journey. Call us at 1-888-472-0171 or visit www.myitalianfamily.com for more information.