We both applied for Italian citizenship through jure sanguinis. We're close, but not quite there. Last month, we sent in a few missing pieces of information. At this time, our applications are being processed. That’s all we know.
Our initial appointments to review our applications and associated paperwork for Italian citizenship took place two months ago. We had each requested our consulate appointments via email. Submitted within minutes of another, the earliest dates they had available were over a year and a half later and exactly a week apart. Does the consulate process only one application per week? Not all consulates have the same lead time or appointment scheduling. Here’s a list of Italian consulates in the U.S. You must work with the one that serves the area you live in. We opted for “mail-in review” since we don’t live near the consulate office in San Francisco which serves the Northwest.
The idea of dual Italian citizenship came to us in 2007 as we were planning our sabbatical to Italy. Part of the sabbatical then became a quest to gather the necessary paperwork – and there is no shortage of that. For our 2007 trip we decided that Visas were the best strategy and so we got them for that trip.
If your family members live in the same consular jurisdiction as you, and are interested in citizenship, then seriously consider combining efforts and doing the citizenship interview together. For example, if your sister or brother wants to apply for citizenship, the only difference between your paperwork and theirs may be an additional birth certificate. Again, check with the consulate that serves your area.
We engaged the Italian Consulate in San Francisco under whose jurisdiction Seattle comes. If you look at the forms section of the site, you’ll see a form called Application for Italian citizenship “Jure Sanguinis” (link as of today). What’s jure sanguinis? I’ll quote from a story of someone who did gain dual-citizenship:
Jure sanguinis - the Latin phrase meaning “continuity of blood” or “by the right of blood” - is the right of citizenship under Italian Nationality Law by virtue of one’s ancestry. As with many aspects of Italian and Italian-American life and culture, the rules surrounding Italian citizenship jure sanguinis are complex and, in some cases, counterintuitive. [source: article by Michael Votto]
Now back to the Jure Sanguinis form. To find it, go to the San Francisco Consulate web site; go to the part of the web site dealing with citizenship. There is a form called Jure Sanguinis. There are a number of ways to claim Jure Sanguinis. To illustrate by way of example, we’ll focus on what was relevant for us. For Travelmarx (both of us) option #5 applies which is:
Your paternal or maternal grandfather was born in the United States, your paternal or maternal great grandfather was born in Italy and was an Italian citizen at the time of your paternal or maternal grandfather’s birth, neither you nor your father/mother nor your grandfather/grandmother ever renounced your right to Italian citizenship.In each of our cases, our Italian bloodlines are most easily proven via our paternal great grandfathers (pictured above). So one reads down to the section applying to option 5 and finds this list of required documents:
- Your paternal/maternal GREAT GRANDFATHER’S BIRTH CERTIFICATE
- Your paternal/maternal GREAT GRANDMOTHER’S BIRTH CERTIFICATE
- Your paternal/maternal GREAT GRANDPARENTS’ MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE
- Your paternal/maternal GREAT GRANDFATHER’S CERTIFICATE OF NATURALIZATION
- Your paternal/maternal GRANDFATHER’S BIRTH CERTIFICATE
- Your paternal/maternal GRANDMOTHER’S BIRTH CERTIFICATE
- Your paternal/maternal GRANDPARENTS’ MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE
- Your father’s BIRTH CERTIFICATE
- Your mother’s BIRTH CERTIFICATE
- Your parents’ MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE
- Your BIRTH CERTIFICATE
- Your APPLICATION AND YOUR DECLARATION THAT YOU AND YOUR ASCENDANTS NEVER RENOUNCED ITALIAN CITIZENSHIP BEFORE ANY ITALIAN AUTHORITY (Attachments: 2A - 2B)
- DEATH CERTIFICATE/S RELATING TO THE ITALIAN BORN ASCENDANTS ONLY.
- ORIGINAL AND COPY OF YOUR DRIVER’S LICENSE
Document #4 in the required documents list, the certificate of naturalization, proved to be a bit tricky. In our original applications, we sent copies of our great-grandfather's naturalization certificates. (One of our great grandfather’s certificate copy came from family records the other came from Homeland Security records, a C-File.) However, these copies turned out to not be sufficient even though we thought we were following the instructions closely. Here’s the email response we received back from the consulate indicating specifically what they required:
Either the original of your ancestor’s naturalization certificate or a certified copy of what the National Archives has on file concerning his acquiring US citizenship. They will not certify the certificate, but they will certify all the rest, including the oath, which is what we need. It will have a red ribbon on it. If you send the original, you will need to enclose a pre-paid self-addressed USPS envelope for the return of the document to you. We do not accept any other form of pre-paid mail.
So we both went to the National Archives site and ordered up red ribbon copies. One of our great grandfathers was naturalized in a federal court (in New York) so the National Archives had all the supporting documentation including his oath of allegience. The other great grandfather was eventually naturalized in Riverside County Superior court (California) and so the National Archives red ribbon copies provided some supporting documentation (his first applications via federal courts which were denied). And Riverside County Superior court archives delivered the essential documents attesting to his naturalization there. Confusing? Kind of. You just have to go with the process and find out what works.
The short ½ of Travelmarx had to provide, in addition to the items above, a copy of a US passport and a statement (in email) that he was never married. It’s odd because the taller ½ of Travelmarx did not have to provide that information. The other items that the shorter ½ of Travelmarx had to provide were copies of the marriage certificate and divorce decree for a first marriage of his mother. Point of the story: be prepared.
The article by Michael Votto [link] ennumerates a few pros and cons of dual (Italian) citizenship. The pros: a passport from a country that is a member of the European Union (E.U.) means you live, travel, and work more freely in any E.U. country. Other possible benefits include healthcare, the ability to purchase property, and the right to pass on citizenship to heirs. The cons: tax liabilities (generally equitable, but filing will be more complex if you have foreign income), possible military responsibilities, and more trouble getting a U.S. security clearance. To tell you the truth, we don’t know which of these pros or cons will be a joy or pain because it’s still early in the process.
The United States government’s position on dual citizenship: they recognize it but don’t encourage it stating that:
The U.S. Government recognizes that dual nationality exists but does not encourage it as a matter of policy because of the problems it may cause. Claims of other countries on dual national U.S. citizens may conflict with U.S. law, and dual nationality may limit U.S. Government efforts to assist citizens abroad. The country where a dual national is located generally has a stronger claim to that person's allegiance. [U.S. Department of State Web site]Finally, a great resource for Italian info and citizenship is Expat Talk, and this guy has a nice and recent story about his successful dual citizenship quest.
A Word About Services That Claim to Assist You
Be careful! If you search for “Italian citizenship” on the Internet you’ll find lots of services offering to gather the documents for you and perhaps shepherd them through the process. We initially tried one and it was a waste of time and money. We recommend that you don’t use them. It’s better to manage the paperwork yourself. It may be challenging at times but can be made easier by getting support from the forums or folks that have already done it.
*Update January 2011
We now both have our citzenships confirmed with a letter from the consulate. One notice came months ago and the other came recently. We are attaching the redacted notice (2 pages) below to show what it looks like. Here's post on getting passports.