How I got my Italian Dual Citizenship and Why!

Whenever I end up in a conversation about citizenship and the fact that I have Dual citizenship in the USA and Italy I generally get two responses.  One group of people give me that wrinkly brow skeptical look and ask why?  The other group look excited and ask how?  Here is the answer to both those questions.

  • Why not? I live my life wanting as many options as I can have.  There are no negatives to having a dual citizenship, except for maybe high-level security clearances in the government.  And in worst case scenarios of draft or political turmoil, I can always renounce that citizenship.
  • You know those worst case scenarios I just spoke of?  I could drop my original home country too.  I will always have another home country that will take me in.  Clearly, the US is not Syria, but I like the idea of always having that escape plan.
  • I love to travel and really experience new cultures.  It allows me to live, work, or go to school in Europe for as long as I want with all the benefits and rules of a national.
  • Having a second passport adds to the list of countries I can enter without a visa.
  • It was a labor of love.  It makes me feel more connected to my familial roots and undertaking this task has brought me closer to my heritage.
Now, this is more complicated! The way I got my dual citizenship was through jure sanguinis, citizenship by descent.  This means I had to have an unbroken chain of citizenship all the way to Italy. 
There are a few hitches to this:
  • Your Italian relative had to have been in Italy or been born in Italy post-March 17, 1861, which was when Italy became a united nation.
  • If your lineage depends on a female link, you could have a problem, women could not pass on their citizenship unless the child was born after January 1st, 1948.
  • If your ancestors naturalized and renounced their citizenship before your link to them was born the chain is broken.
Then comes all the research, paperwork, and waiting.  Each embassy is a little different but you have to provide a full history with birth, death, and marriage certificates.  Which all have to be authenticated and translated into Italian. You have to show proof that no one renounced their citizenship, and if they did proof your ancestor was born before they did.
My great grandfathers Italian birth certificate
It was a lot of work! I know there are some companies out there which will do some of the work for you, but I did everything myself, and I’m glad I did it was very rewarding.  It also took a lot of time, Italians do not feel the hustle, it took me over a year to get my great grandparents birth and marriage certificate from Italy, and once I had submitted my paperwork to the embassy it took them a year and a half to declare me an Italian Citizen.  Now while my children were automatically made citizens with me my husband now has to apply through marriage.  Which is a different thing entirely, I’ll let you go know how that goes when it is done!

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