Italian citizenship by descent – can you claim through a female ancestor

mm Paul Verbiton October 11, 2021
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As the dual citizenship trend gains popularity in the US, Americans want to explore options in the EU. Italy emerges as one of the most preferred destinations as it offers a mix of everything. You can get a slice of European culture, along with favorable weather and an easy lifestyle. Immigrants have access to the best education and healthcare systems too. Further, you can explore business and career opportunities in the country, making it an ideal place to live and work. Not to mention, the Italian passport empowers you to travel visa-free across the EU.

Another great thing about Italy as a second passport destination is that it offers citizenship by descent. You can claim through the right of blood by proving ancestral lineage in the country. However, eligibility gets complicated if you scratch the surface. Aspirants claiming citizenship through a female relative have to follow a different route instead of the conventional Jure Sanguinis. For those who want to learn more about the 1948 Rule, a great explanation was provided by Bersani Law Firm here. While it covers the entire process in detail, we will share some key facts for those looking to apply via the 1948 Rule.

Eligibility when claiming through a female relative

The option of Jure Sanguinis or citizenship by descent is available to people born to Italian descendants. But you may not qualify if your bloodline has an Italian-born woman who gave birth before 1948. You cannot apply through the consulate like someone with Italian male ancestors will because you are not eligible. However, you have the option to apply even with a female ancestor. The process differs a bit because it involves a court case. But you need not worry because it can be simpler than the conventional process. You have to apply through the 1948 Rule in the Italian Court. Since it is a judicial process, hiring a lawyer to guide and represent you in the court is the best approach.

The 1948 Rule explained

According to the current law that governs Italian citizenship by descent, women cannot transfer their citizenship rights to offspring born before January 1, 1948. The law is discriminatory as it can deprive people of their right to claim Italian citizenship only because they have a female ancestor. You may even come across a strange situation when a sibling gets through only because they were born after 1948. However, the government decided to redress the situation and bring fairness to the law by devising a way for people with female ancestors to claim their rights. It came up with the 1948 Rule that lets people born before 1948 or having a woman ascendant who gave birth before the date apply for Italian citizenship by descent.

Steps of the 1948 court process

The 1948 Rule requires you to apply through the Italian court. So it makes sense to get an in-depth understanding of the process. Even better, you must have a lawyer taking care of the case sooner rather than later. It is easy to feel apprehensive about a judicial process, but having a professional by your side gives you more confidence. They know their job well and have the right kind of contacts to close the process at the earliest. Here are the steps they will follow as a part of the 1948 case.

Step #1: Gather documents for evidence

Before applying in court, you must have all the documents and records validating your Italian lineage. The documents must provide details about the life events of your ancestors. These include births, deaths, marriages, and divorces. You will also have to find the ones related to their immigration and naturalization, if relevant.

Step #2: Translation and legalization of documents

Gathering the documents is often not enough, specifically if some of them are non-Italian in origin. You will have to get them legalized with a certified translation in Italian. An apostille is needed for the papers issued in the US. The Italian court will accept these documents as valid evidence only after you complete these formalities.

Step #3: Hire a local attorney

Once you have your documents ready, you are all set to go ahead. At this stage, you will have to hire a local attorney to represent you. Look for someone with relevant expertise and experience. Hiring them gives you the advantage as they can take the case ahead even when you cannot fly to Italy for the hearing. You only need to give them Power of Attorney to enable them to convene the proceedings.

Step #4: Mail documents and POA

You can take the case ahead by mailing the legalized documents along with the original signed Power of Attorney to your local attorney. Additionally, they will help you file the petition online to begin the process.

Step #5: Get a hearing date

The court assigns a case number, hearing date, and judge to your application after you apply and submit the documents. The waiting time may range from a few months to a year. The good thing is that you can expect the case to close in a single hearing, though the judge may recommend a follow-up too. You get the final judgment within a few months following the final hearing.

Step #6: Submit the records

After the final judgment, the court releases an order to confirm your citizenship. As a final step, you will have to register in the municipality of your ancestor’s birth and submit your records there. Once done, you are an Italian citizen.

Although a judicial process sounds daunting, the 1948 Rule is simpler than you think. If you have valid documents, you need not worry about proving your eligibility. A skilled and experienced lawyer can do the rest. Hiring an expert early gives you a head start as they know the process better than anyone else. They can help you with validating your eligibility and even gathering local documents. It is vital to find a seasoned professional and have them on board right from the start.

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Paul Verbiton

I enjoy spotting opportunities and doing my best to grab them if I can. I am eager to see the world, I love taking photos and writing, coming up with topics that are pleasant to read, funny, and interesting at the same time.

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