Are there any drawbacks to dual U.S.-Italian citizenship?
January 11, 2012 2:09 PM   Subscribe

Are there any drawbacks to dual U.S.-Italian citizenship?

I have the opportunity to obtain Italian citizenship jure sanguinis. I would be eligible to keep my American citizenship and have both.

I already know all about the benefits of doing this. I'm concerned however that there are drawbacks I'm overlooking or don't know about.

Drawbacks I'm already aware of are possible tax issues (which don't seem to be difficult to sort out) and issues of Italian compulsory military service (which I've checked into, and won't currently be a problem for me.) I also know that if I ever sought a U.S. government job, there could be issues with security clearance, though I'm less familiar with the details on that.

Is there anything I'm *not* thinking about that you're aware of? No matter how mundane the drawback could be, I'm interested. I'm also interested in less mundane, less likely, but still possible problems -- for example, as I've watched the US slowly chip away civil rights since 9/11, I don't want to put myself in a position where I would have fewer rights if arrested, or be eligible for harsher treatment, torture, etc. To be clear, I don't expect this to happen, I just want to be aware of the possibilities. Thanks.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (9 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
The important thing would be to always use your American passport when entering the USA. If you entered the US using your Italian passport, they'd grant you a 90-day visa and then a flag would be raised when they realized you had overstayed the limit, which could get you into trouble.
posted by deanc at 2:21 PM on January 11, 2012

If there's anything else that's a problem, I really don't know about it. I have dual US-Italian citizenship and moved from Italy to the US six years ago. I always use my US passport when entering the US and I'm registered as an Italian citizen living abroad with the appropriate branch of the Italian government (AIRE) and the Italian consulate in Boston.

It affects my taxes, as I pay taxes in both Italy and the US, but they have tax treaties between them, so it's nothing a competent accountant can't figure out. I vote in both countries, by mail for Italian elections and in person for US elections.

My understanding is that you would, as I have, the same rights as any Italian or US citizen in Italy and the US. Last compulsory military service was for men born before 1985, to be served when they turned 18 or ran out of education deferments. You're good there.

Data point: My fiance will take Italian citizenship as soon as he is eligible. I will give my children dual citizenship. I do not anticipate another WWII Japanese internment camp situation targeting, say, European citizens, but with this world you never know. In that case, I will at least have more than one option with regards to which country will be safer for my family.

PROS: Italian citizenship gives you a leg up for the entire EU, were you to decide to emigrate.

FURTHER PROS: You feel like Jason Bourne with all your sexy spy passports and ID cards.
posted by lydhre at 2:46 PM on January 11, 2012 [7 favorites]

Con: (unlikely to apply here)
If you are in Italy, the US State Department is unlikely to ever be of assistance, because you are 'at home'. While you are in the US, the Italian government will similarly not intervene on your behalf.
posted by jacalata at 2:57 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seconding everything lydhre said above, my situation is similar and I haven't found any drawbacks yet. I claimed Italian citizenship about 15 years ago.
posted by shrieking violet at 3:09 PM on January 11, 2012

You will have to give up the Italian citizenship if you want a US security clearance.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 4:02 PM on January 11, 2012

Dual citizenship may or may not prohibit you from gaining a security clearance, and you may or may not be required to give up Italian citizenship for a US security clearance.

I'll point you to a FAQ about dual citizenship: the short answer is "it's complicated."

I had a coworker with a clearance and dual Turkish citizenship.
posted by bookdragoness at 5:10 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

There's some small-ish monetary cost involved in maintaining two sets of documents, one overseas (renewing passports overseas always seems to cost extra, for example).

If you're in the US, you have to patiently explain to Americans repeatedly that, yes, dual citizenship is legal, no you didn't have to pick a single citizenship at 18, which is slightly tiresome.

You probably render yourself unelectable in the US. (I assume there are rules banning dual citizens from holding certain offices (like, say, president), but I've never actually looked. But, in any case, you'd be a dangerous foreigner, so no one would vote for you anyway.) Of course, I imagine most American mefites would be unelectable anyway.

I believe Supreme Court precedent is in favour of dual citizenship. (As a kid, I worried about how solid the legality of dual citizenship was, but I haven't looked in a while.) At one point (1980s), the State Department chased after people it claimed had renounced citizenship (say via another country's citizenship oath), but you now have to do one of those things it says not to do in your passport with the intent of renouncing US citizenship.
posted by hoyland at 6:06 PM on January 11, 2012

I don't know much about the laws governing your particular situation. However I would like to point out that if you are genuinely concerned about the erosion of civil rights in this country, it's probably better for you to have an 'out' in the form of Italian/EU citizenship if things hit the fan.

I wish I had one, frankly.
posted by tivalasvegas at 9:58 AM on January 12, 2012

as a fyi, there hasnt been compulsory military service in italy for 10 yrs.
posted by 3mendo at 10:36 AM on January 13, 2012

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