Are there generational limits when applying for Italian citizenship by descent

There is a lot of outdated and misinformation online when it comes to generational limits on applying for Italian citizenship by descent. It seems that some people believe there is a generational limit, however, that’s completely untrue. You are not limited to only applying for Italian citizenship through one of your parents or grandparents. We assist people everyday in apply for Italian citizenship through parents, grandparents, great grandparents, great-great grandparents, and beyond.

While there are several very clear yet easily confused restrictions on the process, you can still use ancestry as a means to acquire your Italian citizenship without a generational limit as long as you properly navigate the laws. If you previously held Italian citizenship and renounced your Italian citizenship you will need to reacquire your Italian citizenship likely through a residency program.

Research Your Italian Ancestry

The first thing you must do is to determine the correct ancestor that you can use to claim your Italian citizenship through. Gender is very important here and can drastically affect the process, but for either male or female ancestors, they must have been alive and a legal citizen of Italy once the formation and ultimate unification of Italy took place in 1861. There are a few small exceptions in regards to pre-unitary states though that joined Italy later on.

Should you trace your lineage back to a female ancestor that had a child before January 1, 1948, then you could be ineligible to obtain Italian citizenship under the law. Back then, Italian-born women and even women that were descendants of Italians didn’t have the same rights as men. That meant that according to Italian law, women were not able to pass on Italian citizenship to their children.

That’s why the laws get a little murky when it comes to being considered Italian by birth. Fortunately for you, that shouldn’t stop you as there are ways to keep pursuing your dreams of Italian citizenship through the courts thanks to a 2009 ruling from the Italian Supreme Court. In this ruling, it declared that citizenship could be transferred from a female ancestor to children born prior to 1948. It will involve a judicial process since the discriminatory law is still in effect and has yet to be repealed by the parliament.

For those of you that have a female Italian ancestor that gave birth either on January 1, 1948 or after that date, you will have a similar process to those with a male ancestor of any year of birth. The main difference is that one path requires applying through your local Italian consulate while the other requires applying through the Italian court system.

Qualifying for an Italian Citizenship Generationally

Wondering how you can pursue your Italian citizenship? Read on to see the many ways it’s possible to be an official Italian by law!

Applying through a parent

If you have an Italian parent, it can be a direct path to claiming your Italian citizenship. You could have one or even both of your parents that were born in Italy while you were born elsewhere, like the US, and claim a birthright citizenship. This is possible if one or both of your parents were not yet a US citizen at the time of your birth. However, if you were born on or after August 15, 1992, then you would still be eligible to apply for Italian citizenship even if your parent obtained the citizenship of another country as long as your parent did not voluntarily renounce their Italian citizenship before your birthdate.

For those of you born prior to January 1, 1948 attempting to make a claim through your mother’s Italian ancestry would not work as you would be ineligible. You would not qualify for citizenship through descent according to Italian law and would need to qualify through your father. If your mother was an Italian citizen (but your father was not) when you were born and you were born prior to January 1, 1948, you would need to pursue Italian citizenship through the Italian judicial system in order to be successful. This is called a 1948 case and we handle these daily.

Applying through your grandparents

If you have grandparents that were born in Italy, you may be able to qualify for Italian citizenship through one of your grandparents as long as one or both grandparents born in Italy had not voluntarily naturalized as a US citizen before the birth of your parent (born in the US) who is next in line of descent.

For those with mothers or fathers that were born prior to January 1, 1948, you aren’t eligible to apply in this way if you need to go through your female ancestor (grandmother). In this example, if she was the only Italian citizen at the time of either parent’s birth (and that birth took place before 1948), you would need to apply via the Italian court system under the “1948 rule” and make your case. To read more information about applying through 1948 cases visit this page.

Applying through your great-grandparents

Now, go back a bit further. If you have one or both great-grandparents born in Italy followed by you, your parent, and one grandparent born in the US where you have acquired citizenship as a birthright, you can claim your Italian citizenship as long as one of your great-grandparents voluntarily naturalize as a US citizen before the birth of your grandparent next in line of descent.

Again, this gets complicated with the female side of your lineage. You’d need to trot out the “1948 rule” with the court system in this scenario to claim your Italian citizenship.

Need Help Determining Your Eligibility?

It can be quite complex when trying to determine if you’re eligible for an Italian citizenship through descent. IDC offers a free eligibility assessment with no obligation to identify if you qualify and the path necessary to take for your bloodline. Documents and records will need to be collected to show that you are eligible for Italian citizenship. Documents including census records, marriage certificates, birth certificates, and death certificates can all provide valuable proof in these cases.

Should you meet the requirements with official documentation, you will have the necessary proof you need to compile all of the documents required to apply to the Italian government to gain recognition as an Italian citizen. Contact us today to let us help you get started on the process!

This page was last updated by Jason LoPresti