Under the Italian Law, a woman of Italian descent can only transmit Italian citizenship to her children born after January 1, 1948. (the date on which Italy became a Republic). This applies to the Italian born female in your direct lineage, or the first female born in the direct line even if she was born in the US. In 2009, a trial case challenged the law as discriminatory of Italian women by denying them the right to pass citizenship to their children. The High Court of Rome decided that this discrimination should cease, and granted the Italian citizenship to the woman’s descendants. Since then, these cases have been highly successful at the courts in Rome. Until recently it was necessary to take these “via materna” cases to court in Rome as the defendant in the case is the Ministry of Affairs whose office is in Rome (read more about the 1948 law in our blog post March 4, 2021).
On December 9, 2021 the Italian government approved a reform with the goal of improving the processing time of these requests. The reform introduced a provision for those who have “via materna” citizenship cases to now file them in local courts instead of the Court of Rome. This law goes into effect on Dec 24, 2021 and will then be implemented for all cases filed on or after June 24, 2022. The court location would be the city court that has jurisdiction over the Comune of birth of the Italian ancestor. The intention of the law is to prevent overburdening the court system in Rome. All cases that are filed before June 24, 2022 will still be held in Rome. By using the regional courts, the time factor for completing the trial will be significantly shorter with the same high likelihood of success!
How to Know Which Italian Court to use for Your Via Materna Citizenship Case?
Where can you look to find the location of these courts? You cannot use any court in Italy, there are specific courts and judges who are authorized to act on the citizenship law. Typically, each region of Italy has 1-2 courts that are approved to hear citizenship cases. Since this is a legal matter, it is best for you to retain an attorney who is familiar with all of the court locations in Italy that can hear citizenship cases. Due to the continued COVID situation, the courts are currently hearing the cases through written briefs prepared by the attorney rather than live hearings being held.
The path to this category of Italian Citizenship “via materna” can be made only in the Italian court system, and it is necessary to obtain the assistance of an Italian lawyer registered in an Italian bar association. With representation of an attorney, the case is presented in the court that has jurisdiction over the Italian ancestor’s Town of birth. Of course, in such cases you must show that you cannot apply for Italian citizenship by descent through any other Italian ancestor i.e. through the normal venue at the Italian Consulate or at an Italian Municipality.
ICAP is in partnership with the law firm that won the landmark case in 2009. If you would like more information on Italian citizenship affected by the Jan 1, 1948 ruling, please contact us or call us at (312) 796-9970 for a free eligibility screening.