any dual Italian-American's want to help?
November 7, 2012 6:29 PM   Subscribe

Has anyone gotten dual Italian and American citizenship jure sanguinis?

Where do you start? My maternal grandmother was born in Italy, but gave up her citizenship. My paternal grandfather, grandmother, great-grandmother and great-grandfather were born in Italy and did not give up their citizenship. I believe I qualify for dual Italian and American citizenship jure sanguinisThey came from Naples and I am at a dead end on how to get information on them. How does one start on this adventure?
posted by wandering_not_lost to Law & Government (4 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Per wikipedia, it looks like you apply to the Italian consulate in whose jurisdiction you live. For example, the New York consulate tells you precisely what to send them. It looks like you need to ascertain your grandfather's US citizenship status (is/was he a citizen and his precise date of naturalization) before doing anything else. I'm understanding you saying that your grandmother renounced Italian citizenship to mean that your only option is through your grandfather. Then you've got to chase down the right documents, which entails figuring out your grandfather's birthplace and where your paternal grandparents were married.

Weirdly, you've made me realise that I might technically be an Italian citizen, though it'd be nearly impossible to demonstrate.
posted by hoyland at 6:56 PM on November 7, 2012

To clarify, if I read things properly, if you can demonstrate your grandfather was an Italian citizen at the time of your father's birth, you don't have to go back any further.
posted by hoyland at 7:00 PM on November 7, 2012

Done this! It's very exciting to get your Italian passport.

You're in good shape -- you'll need to show your birth certificate, your parents' marriage certificate, your father's birth certificate, your grandparents' marriage certificate, your grandfather's birth certificate, and then a letter from the INS (now ICE) stating that they have no record of your grandfather ever naturalizing.

There are services that will track down the birth certificate in Italy for you, but it's totally doable on your own. Once you know or think you know when and where he was born, write a letter (sample form letters in Italian are easy to google) to the records office and ask for a copy. Make sure you've got the right form -- I think it's stamped official paper, rather than a printed informational copy.

If you're having trouble tracking your grandfather down, feel free to send me a memail with his information and I'll see what I can find. I quite enjoy genealogical puzzles and I read Italian/have gone down this particular road myself.
posted by katemonster at 9:55 PM on November 7, 2012

My case was more complicated than yours, but I just finished after six looooong years.

First, in 2006, I joined and then used this forum for all six years. They are amazing. That's your first step.

The six years thing was partly because I was only plugging away at it very very part time, partly because I had weird name issues which we resolved only after repeated visits to the consulate (for which we needed to make special appointments months in advance - you CANNOT just walk in with all the documents and walk out with a passport), and partly because, well, bureaucracy takes a long time.

I got the distinct impression that a big part of the decision about whether you were to be a citizen took place at the consulate itself. This was never mentioned explicitly, and I'm sure the Italian national government had to be consulted in some way, but the people at the consulate in Los Angeles which I dealt with were willing to bend all sorts of rules for us because they knew we were justifiably entitled to it from the documentary proof. They were also, to a one, polite but often extremely efficient with their time - you may have waited months for an appointment but it can be over in as little as three or four minutes (or take as much as two hours, as we learned). Basically, your journey is not special or particularly important to them and they can make your life really quite difficult, but if you do what they say (EXACTLY) they're very willing to tell you what you need so you can come back and have the right thing next time. :)

I did make a spreadsheet that had rows for each needed document and columns for how much it cost, where to get it, addresses and phone numbers, dates things were requested/mailed/received, whether or not it needed to be translated/notarized/apostilled, and whether it was in the "ready to go" pile. Organizing the information made it very easy to see what was next on the list.

The documents we needed to obtain from Italy were easy enough to get (proof of - a lot of stuff is digital/faxed) once I knew what they were. My grandmother was an invaluable source of information - she knew birthdays of great-grandparents and the name of the small Sicilian town they were from.

However, my mothership was the Los Angeles Italian consulate website, because that's where we applied from as that's the consulate that covers our address. We didn't make an appointment with them until we had every single document ready to go. In the end, we needed to do some things that weren't on the website, but that we were told to do by the consulate officials.

Some stuff we learned dealing with Los Angeles:

• Be prepared to spend hundreds of dollars on translation and document fees. All in my family spent about $1000, plus the cost of travel to get to the Italian consulate in Los Angeles.

• Be prepared for massive bulls*it from the American side - our document journey involved five states and New York took ELEVEN MONTHS to tell us they hadn't processed a form because a check we had written for the fee was THREE. DOLLARS. TOO. MUCH.

• Be prepared for the rules to be TOTALLY DIFFERENT based on who you speak to at a consulate. There may be one person who is a normal front-desk type who only sort of manages this subject (as well as doing everything else they do, like help "actual" Italians with lost passports, process visas for Italian-bound non-US citizens in the US, etc) and one person who actually does citizenship stuff.

• Be prepared for no one to ever answer the phone, faxes, or e-mails at the Italian consulate. You need to have a PERFECT file - down to no spelling discrepancies in every single name - before they'll put you in the queue.

• Honestly, be prepared for a bit of absurdity of an unpredictable sort that somehow saves the day in the end, with a hilarious flair; these are still Italians, after all. :) Here's what I mean:

We had one remaining name issue in the last possible week I could have met at the consulate and returned to Europe with the Italian passport they were about to produce for me as they'd seen I was entitled to it from everything we'd done, and to resolve this, we all ended up working to draft a really official looking affidavit, with an actual embossed seal and red ribbon, saying something arcane we all knew was true but that there was no actual first-hand evidence for...except this letter...which was then faxed to Italy (how do you fax a raised seal?) for them to approve.

This totally not-officially-endorsed procedure was cooked up by the diplomats themselves, who I think began to like us after visit number four, and I think they actually sort of think they got away with something amusing, getting one over on the state. I'll never forget what the woman in charge said, when I asked her what the chances of it being approved were: "Of course they'll approve this - they're a tiny town in Sicily I've never even heard of and we are the Diplomatic Corps!" And three days later, on the very last possible day I could have got my passport, I got my passport. See? Hilarious. :)

After all that rigmarole, I finally visited my great-grandparents' ancestral town this summer to flesh out the remaining family tree and it was an amazing journey. I emailed the town's mayoral office in Italian with the help of a friend and got to see original ledger documents from the late 1700s - and my own "foreign" registry as someone living in America! It took hours and they spoke no English, but as they knew I was coming, they had everything ready to examine.

It's totally worth the expense and hassle. But the months/years of waiting is atrocious - many other people are learning they qualify but the Italian foreign service only has so many diplomats! Be prepared for a long - and educational! - journey. :D
posted by mdonley at 8:26 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

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