Italian Citizenship By Marriage or Civil Union
APPLYING FOR ITALIAN CITIZENSHIP THROUGH MARRIAGE
Articles 5 – 8 of Law n. 91 of 1992 on Italian Citizenship governs citizenship whether it’s by civil union or marriage.
A non-Italian spouse of an Italian citizen is eligible for Italian citizenship after two years of being married or in a civil union so long as the couple resided in Italy. If the couple has children 18 or younger – be them biological or adopted – the wait time is one year.
Couples living outside the country must wait three years after their date of civil union or marriage before the non-Italian spouse can apply for Italian citizenship by marriage. This is reduced to 18 months when children are involved – be them biological or adopted.
In 2016, Italy recognized same-sex civil unions, and are afforded the same protections heterosexual married couples are given.
New Citizenship Requirement
Law Dec. 1 2018 n.32 was introduced, imposing a new requirement on Italian citizenship marriage applications submitted after Dec. 4, 2018. Any applicant seeking Italian citizenship must have sufficient knowledge of the Italian language (B1 level), which the Italian Ministry of Education (MIUR) or Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAECI) must certify is the result of an approved educational institution.
Other PrerequisitesIn addition to time requirements, to qualify, a non-Italian spouse looking for citizenship must register with AIRE (if not in country) or have a foreign marriage record, same-sex marriage or civil union registered with a local Italian consulate. The couple must have the marriage/civil union recorded with the commune.
Three things must be done before submitting an application:
- Verify Italian commune has marriage record on file
- Ensure Italian spouse is properly AIRE registered
- Consulate records reflect current resident address
Where Citizenship Applications Must Be Filed
Couples who live abroad must file their Italian citizenship by marriage application with the local Italian consulate. If living in the country, the application can be submitted to the local “Prefuttura”.
Citizenship of a Spouse Through Naturalization
If seeking Italian citizenship through naturalization, an Italian citizen’s spouse can apply to obtain citizenship if they’ve lived in Italy for a minimum of 10 years. Citizenship through naturalization will likely be granted if the applicant has suitable financial resources and no criminal record.
Through naturalization, the requirement for living in Italy has been lowered to 3 years if the foreigner’s grandparents were Italian citizens and if the foreigner’s place of birth was in Italy. Nationals associated with European Union member states must live in Italy for 4 years. Stateless people, such as refugees, must wait 5 years. If an Italian citizen adopts someone when they were a child, this person must live in Italy for 7 years.
Process of Italian Citizenship Through Marriage
Step 1: Submission of online application
For the first step, applicants must fill out an online application at the Italian Ministry of Interior’s website and upload copies of the necessary documents. Applicants must register on the “ALI” portal and create an account on the Ministero Dell'Interno website. The “ALI” portal is currently in Italian only.
Italian law requires that applications for Italian citizenship via marriage or civil union must have the following information submitted:
- Copy of marriage certificate transcript from Italian municipality where Italian spouse is AIRE-registered
- Criminal background checks from applicant’s residences since 14 years of age and FBI
- Certified copy of foreign birth certificate
Special Note 1: All criminal background checks and marriage certificate documents are good for six months. Therefore, citizenship applications must be submitted within six months after the first document has been issued. Be sure to contact the local Italian consulates for additional information or clarification.
Special Note 2: An Apostille, which is an international legalization of documents for foreign use, is necessary for all documents issued in the U.S. for them to be considered legal. Any documents originating from elsewhere – not Italy or U.S. – must be legal based on the local regulations regarding the use of certified documents overseas.
All foreign language documents must be translated into Italian, and local Italian consulate(s) must certify the translations.
Step 2: Consulate visit to finalize citizenship application (includes reviewing all documents and signatures)
After documents have been legalized and translated to Italian, applicants can move onto step 2 – online submission and finalization appointment with the consulate. Since documentation for Italian citizenship is done online, there’s no need to set up an appointment with the Italian Citizenship Jure Matrimonii in the consulate.
You can make an appointment with your local consulate/prefettura to review your application. An invitation will be extended to you with an appointment (date and time) to submit original documents.
What Documents Will You Need To Bring To The Interview?
- Receipt for the wire transfer of €250
- Application form
- Residency list
- Original and copy of Italian passport
- Non-Italian’s spouse original and copy of State ID and foreign passport
- Original and copy of proof of residency in consular authority
- Signed declaration (parties agree they are still married)
- Apostille-certified and Italian-translated non-Italian’s spouse’s original long-form copy of birth certificate - The applicant must produce their complete birth certificate and a certified Italian translated version. The certificate must include all important information, such as the applicant’s place of birth, date of birth, name at birth and the surname at birth. This same information of the applicant’s parents must also be listed. If any of the required information is not included on the birth certificate or is inaccurate, the applicant must to request an affidavit from their country’s diplomatic-consular authority which contains all this information on it. The Italian consulate or embassy of the issuing country must legalize it. If the birth certificate was translated into Italian by an Italian translator and issued by an apostille, the Italian embassy or consulate of the issuing country must certify the translated birth certificate.
- Original marriage record from Italian city
- Original criminal background checks for countries where applicant has lived since age 14 including the U.S. – must be Apostille-certified and translated into Italian
- Money order for consular fee for legalization of translated documents
Special Notes: You may hear or read two terms that you should know
- Estratto per riassunto – this is a certification that lists a record’s basic information
- Copia integrale – this is a copy of original entry and lists any original record’s information
How Long Is The Processing Time?Based on Law Degree Oct. 4, 2018 n. 113, the Ministry of Interior Office has 48 months to process applications for citizenship. (Originally, this was 730 days). Descent-related applications have a two-year timeframe, but may be processed quicker.
What’s the difference in processing times for these applications? Consulates handle the citizenship applications by descent. However, they work as an intermediary between applicants and Ministry of Interior Office for marriage/civil union applications at the start. During the remaining part of the process, the Office of Ministry in Rome handles everything else.
Due to the number of requests for the Ministry to review, the processing time is quite lengthy. While it can take up to four years, the Ministry of Interior office often processes these applications much earlier than the law has deemed appropriate.
Should the four-year limit come and go, the Ministry of Interior office must give their answer to the applicant. The applicant can submit a formal letter of notice (Diffida) to demand an immediate answer. These letters often pick up the pace in which applications are reviewed, as the Ministry does not want to participate in lawsuits since they must cover the incurred legal fees.
A “Diffida” usually sent by an attorney on behalf of an applicant, but the applicant can send it. Be aware that an attorney-drafted Diffida does more than an applicant-sent one. If your application is nearing or has passed the law-allowed deadline, reach out to us for legal help.
If you get divorced, have the marriage annulled or dissolved or your Italian spouse dies during the application processing time, the process becomes interrupted. Should the consulate/prefettura be unable to contact the applicant for any reason, the process also become interrupted. Be sure the consulate is made aware of any address changes.
Application Approval and OathIf a consulate grants an applicant’s request for Italian citizenship through marriage, civil union or ancestor, the message is sent via a message on the Web Portal. The message informs applicants of a citizenship ceremony, which makes occur six months from the date the applicant was granted citizenship. You are not required to have been married in an Italian church or Vatican City to apply for citizenship.
The couple (the Italian spouse and now-recognized Italian citizen) must be present at the ceremony, and sign an affidavit that confirming they are still legally married and there have been no requests for an annulment, separation or divorce.
The Consul General of Italy (or acting representative) will read the verbale di giuramento statement at the ceremony. After which, the applicant will need to take an Oath of Allegiance by saying the following words, “GIURO DI ESSERE FEDELE ALLA REPUBBLICA ITALIANA ED AL SUO CAPO E DI OSSERVARE LEALMENTE LA COSTITUZIONE E LE LEGGI DELLO STATO”.
Pre-1983 Marriage Of Women Married To Italian Men
The following documents will be needed:
- Original and copy of U.S. passport
- Consular fees €300 – be sure to check your local consulate’s website for the USD amount (exchange rate changes every three months)
- Proof of residency of the consular authority
- Marriage certificate, which has been translated into Italian and Apostille-legalized
- Applicant’s birth certificate that was Apostille legalized and Italian translated