Courts Impose Changes To Law, Making It Easier To Become An Italian Dual Citizen

According to the Italian Citizenship law of 1912, men were the only ones allowed to pass down Italian citizenship to their children (whether they were born in or out of the country). Children born to Italian men were automatically granted Italian citizenship.

This law did not apply to women, which meant children born to Italian women were not considered Italian citizens. Changes were made to the Italian constitution, and now Italian citizenship is granted of an Italian man or woman’s descendant born after January 1, 1948. These court cases are often referred to as a 1948 case or 1948 rule and have become very popular in recent years as they now have allowed an entire category of people the ability to apply for Italian citizenship by descent and receive all the benefits they previously could not.

At that time, citizenship applications where the ancestor is an Italian-born female and a child was born before 1948 were denied. Italian women who marry non-Italian men before 1948 were discriminated against as well, losing their rights to citizenship due to their marriage.

Special circumstances for Italian dual citizenship regarding 1948 court cases from the Supreme Court of Italy

2009 Law Change Alters How To Become An Italian Citizen

2009 ushered in a new law change that has affected how Italian citizenship is granted. Each of the prior situations were recently tried in court as being unfair and discriminatory towards women. Any applicant seeking Italian dual citizenship that fell under one of these situations can now apply for Italian citizenship and potentially be approved. Since the 2009 precedent was set, many applicants have now been approved for Italian dual citizenship. These changes have made the process of becoming an Italian citizen much more clear for people who fall under a 1948 case through a maternal ancestor.

The legal precedents stipulated that the 1948 Italian constitution’s principles such as gender equality must be applied retroactively. This includes events that took place before the Italian constitution was issued. Courts stated female ancestors passed their Italian citizenship onto their birth children so long as they didn’t freely naturalize before the birth. The courts also stated women were still Italian citizens despite marrying a man who wasn’t Italian and could therefore pass on their citizenship benefits as well..

The Office of the Ministry of Interior was a counterpart in the lawsuit, and lawsuits of this type must be filed before the Civil Court of Rome. There are several reasons in which attaining Italian citizenship by descent or Italian citizenship by marriage is likely to be approved by Italy’s courts:

  • Courts tend to grant citizenship in any lawsuit filed during and after 2009
  • The Italian government no longer represents itself in court – counterclaims are no longer filed, and state attorneys no longer represent the Italian Ministry of Interior office
  • In most new trials, the judge presiding over the case is the same one that granted Italian dual citizenship in other cases

Although there have been a significant number of positive court outcomes, it’s not guaranteed that bringing a lawsuit will give you the result you want. Each court has the power to rule as it chooses at any time and you still must meet the requirements for dual citizenship. However, in most cases, Italian courts will follow the widely accepted ruling in previous 1948 cases.

Understanding 1948 Cases and How They Apply to Your Ability to Get Italian Dual Citizenship

The year 1948 is incredibly significant in Italian history. Prior to this time, Italian citizenship was a biased against women and only men could pass down citizenship. With the passage of a new law, it granted all women civil rights which included the right to vote as well as to pass Italian citizenship along to their children.

Should your case allow you the right to apply for citizenship through administrative means, or the traditional way, then you must have Italian lineage that is made up of men. If your lineage is connected via a woman, her child needs to have been born after the date of January 1, 1948. If her child is born before 1948, you will likely fall under what is called a 1948 case and will need to proceed through the Italian judicial system with the assistance of our Italian attorney to obtain Italian citizenship.

According to Italian law, no man or woman born to an Italian woman before 1948 can inherit the right to citizenship in Italy. All children that were born after this date are entitled to Italian citizenship from their mother’s side. Anyone before 1948 must pursue their law of blood case with the assistance of an Italian attorney.

Let’s examine example cases that illustrate what can happen in both of those scenarios:

Example #1: Apply to Italian Consulate or Municipality

  • If you have a great-grandfather that was born in 1890 in Italy and then traveled to the US 25 years later. He never naturalized as a US citizen. Your grandmother was born in 1929, then your father in 1949. In this scenario, you can qualify through the administrative processes because your grandmother was able to pass along her Italian citizenship to your father as he was born in 1949, after the law that passed in 1948.

Example #2: Apply for Italian Citizenship in Italian Court

  • Now, let’s assume that the great-grandfather from the previous example, was born in 1890, then moved to the USA in the 1920’s. He never naturalized as a US citizen and then your mother was born in the late 1920’s, but your father was born prior to 1948, in the year 1947. You would not qualify in this situation to gain administrative access to Italian citizenship without the assistance of an Italian attorney who specializes in Italian citizenship.

Additionally, the original 1912 citizenship law could only be transferred from a father to his children. There was no ability to use ‘jure sanguinis’ which is right of blood because women during these times did not have the same rights as men.

In this situation, you would want to claim Italian citizenship judicially. Judges in most cases tend to rule in favor for those wishing to become Italian citizens by way of a female ancestor that had a child before 1948. This as became very common and we will assess your case free of charge to identify your chance of success getting Italian citizenship.

For the latter of the previous two scenarios, it’s helpful to analyze what could come about in those trial cases to get Italian citizenship through a female ancestor with success.

Your Italian-Born Male Ancestor Got US Citizenship Prior to Birth of Child in US

  • This happens to be one of the most common cases that occurs. For example, if you have an Italian-born ancestor male that came to America and gained citizenship, doing so before he had a child. Should the child have been born prior to 1948, you can file a petition in court in Italy claiming the right to be granted Italian citizenship by way of his Italian-born female ancestor, usually the spouse of the Italian-born ancestor that was naturalized.

    This is also true if you have an Italian woman as an ancestor who came to the US from Italy alone. If she is where your lineage begins and she married a man who was born in America, you can claim rights. It’s a little more rare though since Italian families once set marriages overseas to keep Italian heritage strong in the family and for the dominance of Catholicism. Additionally, women during these days seldom were taught to speak foreign languages.

Your Lineage Begins through Italian-Born Male Ancestor Yet You Have At Least One Female Ancestor Born in America

  • If you have an ancestor that was born in Italy and then moved to the US and didn’t become naturalized or gained US citizenship after having a child, this can apply to you. Should you have other ancestors between that point that were born in the US, were women, and had children born prior to 1948, you’ll fall under a 1948 case and we can assist you in the court process on your behalf to get Italian citizenship.


You Have a Female Italian-Born Ancestor that Naturalized with the Man She Married

  • In this final situation, the woman in question in the USA was able to make citizenship decisions thanks to the Cable Act which started on September 22, 1922. Prior to this time, women that were in the United States could not gain nor lose citizenship unless it was through their husbands. Women were to follow the status of their husbands and automatically gained USA citizenship through marriage when they married a USA citizen.

    When this scenario arises, the Italian Constitutional Court judgement and the Italian Supreme Court judgement (n. 87 of 1975 and n. 4466 of 2009, respectively) stated that women who gained foreign nationality in this automatic fashion through marriage can still hold onto their Italian citizenship. That citizenship can also be granted to their children. Since she didn’t renounce her citizenship, it is valid in transfer to future generations.


A Look At Recent Court Cases

As qualifying under a 1948 rule and filing a 1948 case is a court case in Rome, it is necessary to hire a lawyer to represent you in Italy’s Courts even if your case involves a citizenship request where the descendant is a male. If you have not heard from the Italian Consulate about your application within 730 days, you can request a hearing in the Civil Court of Rome to attain immediate Italian citizenship and receive Italian citizenship benefits.

You can also start the legal process in Italy, going before the Civil Court of Rome and use the gathered evidence of citizenship to make your request. This is especially true if the consulate has your appointment scheduled for a date after 730 days. The judge will schedule a hearing for your case and will make a ruling instead of the consulate.

In cases such as these, the Civil Court of Rome will be the one to handle the request, and there have been many judgments ruled in Petitioners’ favors. People who fall under this 1948 rule can now potentially qualify and obtain Italian citizenship with the proper assistance.

The only time you should go before the Administrative Courts of Italy is when you feel your application for becoming an Italian citizen has been unfairly denied.

UPDATE: As of June 2022 there have been Italian law updates regarding 1948 cases. Please click here to see the updated laws.

If you are unsure if you meet the requirements for Italian Dual Citizenshipcontact one of our IDC professionals at (213) 277-8705. We are happy to review the 1948 case Italian citizenship cost and fees with a free preliminary assessment of your case to confirm your eligibility.

This page was last updated with help by Marco Permunian

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