Do you qualify for Italian dual citizenship?

Italy’s citizenship laws are very generous regarding people of Italian descent and is based on “Jure Sanguinis” (right of the blood). You will generally qualify if you have an Italian ancestor who passed the right of citizenship to their American-born child in your direct line.

Do you have at least one Italian-born ancestor who passed the right to Italian citizenship to his/her child born in the United States? If so, Italian citizenship passes to each subsequent generation without limit.

Here’s an example:

  • Francesco was born in Italy in 1915.
  • In 1935, he emigrated to the United States
  • Francesco’s son Anthony is born in Brooklyn, New York in 1940.
  • Francesco naturalizes an American citizen in 1945.

Francesco was still only an Italian citizen at the time of Anthony’s birth, therefore Francesco successfully passed the right to Italian dual citizenship to Anthony. Now all of Anthony’s descendants can seek recognition of Italian dual citizenship.

Key Things to Know for Qualification

Your Italian ancestor must have been alive after March 17, 1861 when Italy officially became a unified country.

If you have women in your direct line of qualification, her child must have been born after December 31, 1947. Prior to this date, women could only receive citizenship from their father, they could not pass it to their child. This rule can be contested in Italian courts but disqualifies someone from applying at a consulate or directly in an Italian town.

Italy didn’t recognize dual citizenship until 1992, so Italians automatically lost their citizenship when they became a citizen of another country. If your Italian-born ancestor naturalized as an American before August 15, 1992, this is when they lost their Italian citizenship. If the date of his naturalization occurred after the birth of the child (or if he never naturalized), you may qualify.

There are other rules regarding dates, especially if your ancestor came from certain regions of Italy, so it’s best to set up a consultation for confirmation.