Many people from all parts of the globe are seeking dual nationality or citizenship status in countries across Europe in order to gain a foothold in the Continent for a variety of reasons. Italy is one of the most desirable countries that individuals and families wish to access. A country with membership in the European Union delivers automatic European citizenship to its citizens and to all member countries as introduced by the Maastricht Treaty 1992. European citizenship is supplementary to national citizenship and provides a number of rights, freedoms and legal protections, including freedom of movement, settlement and employment across the European Union.
Italian citizenship is currently regulated by Law No. 91/1992 which assesses the importance of an individual's intention and recognises the right to hold dual citizenship. There is more than one way to acquire Italian citizenship, outlined below:
Descent from parents who are Italian citizens
Italian citizenship is principally acquired through jure sanguinis (blood right) i.e. being born to Italian parents. A male parent and the male line can transfer citizenship without limit to the number of generations, although Italian citizenship derives from 1861 when the country unified, prior to that there were no Italian citizens. However a female parent and female line could only transfer citizenship from 1948 onward until a recent decision by the Supreme Court stated that the provision was contrary to the principles of equality.
Marriage to an Italian citizen
Marriage to an Italian citizen automatically confers the right of Italian citizenship on the foreign spouse, except in the following cases: if an individual has carried out any serious criminal activity anywhere in the world; if the individual is deemed to be a security threat or a threat to public order.
There are further conditions to fulfil prior to the application, two years of legal residency in Italy or three years if the parties live abroad. The marriage must be viable throughout the application process. There are no requirements to learn Italian or have knowledge of Italy and the Italian culture.
A non-EU citizen having legally resided in Italy for ten years may apply for Italian citizenship and an EU citizen after four years. A foreigner with native-born Italian parents or grandparents who have lost their citizenship and therefore unable to pass citizenship on, is entitled to apply after three years of legal residency in Italy.
It is not unusual for an individual to only be able to fulfil part the above criteria, in such cases the lawyers at Giambrone have previously been able to overcome significant complications, as in the case of our client who hoped to use her great-grandfather's lineage, only to find that her great-grandfather had lost his Italian citizenship when he became a naturalised citizen of America. The matter was additionally compounded by the fact that her great-grandparents were married prior to 1 January l948, before the Italian constitution was created. The two factors seemed to be a body blow for our client and posed a significant problem as, (as previously stated), the transmission of the right to citizenship can only normally descend through the male line (pater familias).
Our lawyers conducted considerable research and concluded that filing at the Ordinary Court of Rome would offer the best possibility for success. Our lawyers drafted a comprehensive submission, including a detailed analysis of the entire lineage, and drew the Court's attention to several salient points to support the submission. The meticulous and comprehensive petition presented by Giambrone ensured the success of the application against the odds.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.