There are a few ways in which you can apply for Italian citizenship from the USA. While proving descent to the Italian consulate is an option, many people choose to go through the Court in Rome by filing a lawsuit. The process is rather complex and involves a lot of documents necessary to prove and win your case. However, if you have the grounds to do it, it is one of the best ways to claim your Italian citizenship retroactively.
In this article, we will present you with all you need to know about applying for Italian citizenship through the Court in Rome. We will outline the particular steps you need to take and provide you with insights into what exactly happens once such a case is won.
You can only apply for Italian citizenship through the court system in one particular case. Your family tree needs to include an Italian woman who gave birth to a child before January 1st, 1948. Before that date, Italian women were not allowed to pass citizenship on to their children. However, the passing of the Italian constitution on the aforementioned date eliminated this discrimination against women. It establishes equal rights for both men and women, which allows the latter to pass citizenship to their children.
In such a case, you can retroactively apply for Italian citizenship. After all, you are an Italian descendant and thus able to challenge the situation by proving that your family tree includes Italian women who were not allowed to pass citizenship onto their kids. As you might imagine, proving that requires quite a bit of research and acquisition of the appropriate documents. Let’s take a look at what you need to collect in order to file the lawsuit and what the exact process includes.
Even though applying for citizenship through a consulate and filing a lawsuit are considerably different, there are quite a few things they have in common. Perhaps the biggest similarity is in the documents and paperwork you need to prepare in order to initiate the process. When applying via lawsuit, you will be required to submit certified copies of your vital records. Those include documents such as birth, marriage, divorce, and death certificates, among others.
Along with that, you will also need to provide the naturalization records of the Italian-born woman that you base the lawsuit on. However, keep in mind that if the woman was not naturalized, you will need to get a Certificate of Non-Existence of Records from the USA Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Also, you will have to provide a letter of negative search from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) or the county you are residing in. The latter document states that the Italian-born woman in your family tree was never naturalized.
In order for your documents to be accepted, they need to be translated into Italian and certified by an Apostille. After everything is translated and certified, you will be able to submit it to the Court of Rome. The physical address of the court in Rome is Viale Giulio Cesare 54B 00192.
The cost of retrieving and certifying the vital records and other documents varies greatly, depending on the state you are residing in. Of course, you will also have to pay for the translation itself. Perhaps the simplest and most effective way of translating the documents is to send them to the court’s clerk. The amount of money they will charge you depends on the number of documents that need to be translated and the number of revenue stamps needed for certification. Usually, the sum will vary between €200 and €500.
Filing the lawsuit itself also comes with a fee of around €300. Once you submit the documents and pay the fee, a judge will be assigned to your case. They will proceed by assigning a date for the first hearing. Keep in mind that you might have to wait from 12 to 18 months for your court date, depending on the judge’s availability. We advise you to inform any relatives who descend from the ancestor in question, so they can join in on the lawsuit as well.
The process usually includes only one hearing. The judge will examine the documents you have provided and rule whether to grant your claim to Italian citizenship. However, in certain cases, more documents need to be procured and submitted. You can monitor the progress of your trial with an app called Giustizia Civile. All you need to do is to enter your case number (ruolo generale) and the app will show you the different stages of the trial. The case number is in the following format — RG 0000/2021.
If the judge rules that you can claim Italian citizenship, the ruling will be filed with the court clerk. The attorney on record will also be notified. However, the ruling is subject to appeal within the next 60 days. After that period has expired, the decision becomes final. You will then be able to get a copy of the ruling with an official seal indicating that it is final and no longer subject to appeal. The attorney on record needs to personally appear before the court clerk to get the copy of the ruling.
Once you have this document, you only need to take a few more steps. First, you have to register the ruling with the Italian consulate in the jurisdiction you live in. Next, you have to provide the consulate with all your vital records — translated and certified. You can easily give them the same documents which you submitted to the court. Of course, you should have retrieved them after the trial ended.
The consulate will then send the copy of the ruling to the Italian municipality where your ancestor came from. They will also send a certified copy of your birth certificate. In some cases, you might have to contact the municipality yourself in order to initiate the process. Once your birth certificate is registered with the municipality, you are officially considered an Italian citizen.
If you live abroad, you will also be able to register with the Registry of Italian Citizens Residing Abroad (AIRE). At this point, you will be able to apply for a passport. You can also request a passport at your local Italian consulate — no need to travel to Italy yourself. On a final note, if you have minor children, you will also need to register their birth certificates in Italy.