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My Story: Dual Citizenship
One of the most frequently asked questions we receive on the blog is: “How long will it take to obtain Italian citizenship?” So, with that question in mind, I started researching the various ways you can obtain dual citizenship and approximately how long it could take. I also wanted to include a little bit about my story.
The Beginning – My Story
The way I chose to obtain my Italian citizenship was through my bloodline, called Jus Sanguinis. This means I had to trace my bloodline back to my Italian roots. My father was born in the United States, so I had to go back to my grandfather who immigrated to the States in 1909. Although he lived in New York until he died, he never became an American Citizen. He stayed here as a Legal Resident Alien registering every ten years with the government. Since he chose not to become an American citizen, it made my acquiring Italian citizenship a bit easier. Still, I had to go through a legal process to prove my bloodline. I was never guaranteed citizenship and could have been turned down at any point in the process.
Bloodline (Jus Sanguinis)
To prove my bloodline I had to submit the following copies and all forms also translated into Italian.
- A copy of my grandparent’s birth and death certificates
- My grandparent’s marriage certificate. Since my grandmother was married before my grandfather, I had to obtain a copy of her ex-husband’s death certificate or a copy of their divorce papers. Italy wanted to make sure my grandparents were legally married, and I was a legal grandchild. As an interesting side note, my two uncles and my aunt were illegal children by the Italian government since my grandmother’s ex was still alive and living in Italy when they were born. My father was born four years after his death and four months after my grandparents were married. That made my father the only legal child under Italian law.
- My father’s birth and death certificate since he died in 1956
- A copy of my mother’s birth certificate
- Their marriage certificate
- My birth certificate.
- A copy of Ilene’s birth certificate since she was also applying for Italian Citizenship. She could apply at the same time because we were married before 1983. Current law, states you must wait one-three years for a female to apply through her husband.
- Our marriage certificate
- My divorce papers since I was married before my marriage to Ilene
- An official document from Homeland Security stating that my grandfather never naturalized and became an American Citizen
Different State Agencies
When I called to make our initial appointment with the Consulate in Los Angeles, I was given an appointment date one year from the day I called. This enabled us about a year to get all of our paperwork together or so I thought.
Since I was born in New York, I had to obtain my papers through this state. In New York, you need to get a certificate from the County Clerk’s Office with an official seal. From there, the City Clerk’s Office gives your papers another official seal, and lastly, you need an apostille from the State of New York including its official seal. This is for all birth, death, marriage, and divorce certificates.
My Story Continues… Our Process at the Italian Consulate
At our initial appointment, with our papers in hand, we met with the person in charge of intake who looked them over one by one. She had us sign a form stating we wanted citizenship. At this time we also paid $330.00 each (money order) for the processing of our requests. Keep in mind that we could have been turned down at any point in the process and our money will not be refunded.
From the point of accepting our paperwork and applications, the Italian Government had two years to accept or deny our request. About one year into the process, we were told some of my paperwork needed to be amended. The process with New York had to begin all over again. At least this time it was only three minor amendments that were taken care of quickly. What we didn’t know? Once you are asked to amend or change any paperwork your two-year time clock restarts when they receive your amended papers.
My story… It took us nine days short of three years before I was sent an email stating I was now an Italian citizen. Ilene had to wait for my citizenship to be approved before her application was sent to the Vital Records Department and in about two weeks, she was granted citizenship too.
I investigated five different consulates (New York, Chicago, Houston, Miami, and Los Angeles) and they all show the same language on their websites.
I also checked with a few companies who will help you obtain citizenship and they all were the same as the Italian Consulates. According to their sites, it should take 24 months from your appointment date to get your recognition of citizenship. I was also told that the law changed in 2019, and can now take up to 48 months in some cases. For mail-in appointments, the clock will start two weeks after your paperwork with payment is received by the Consulate.
Due to COVID-19, as of the day of this post, I found out that New York is not accepting any Jus Sanguinis applications at this time. What that will do to the backlog of applications – I have no idea.
Here is an approximate timeline of how long each step could take:
- First appointment (Intake) with the Consulate: Six months to two years. At one point the Los Angeles Consulate was scheduling appointments over four to six years.
- Gathering paperwork, seals, apostilles, and translations: Six months to one year.
- Recognition or rejection of citizenship: Two to four years.
- Recognition from the Comune in Italy where you will be registered: Two to six months.
Last, you will need an appointment for your passport. There is no official time frame given by the consulate, but it took Ilene and I about one month to get our passport appointment. Three days after that, we had that beautiful wine-colored booklet in our hands. It was truly a life-altering moment for us.
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In summary, the process of obtaining Italian citizenship is not a fast process. You are looking at approximately 38 months to 7.5 years before you become accepted or rejected by the Italian Government. Again, my story was nine days short of three years.
You are probably asking the question “Is it worth it”? My answer is simply YES!!!