Italian citizenship is granted by birth through the paternal line, with no limit on the number of generations, or through the maternal line for individuals born after 1 January 1948. This is referred to as citizenship by descent, jus sanguinis.
If you were born in the United States (or in any other country where citizenship is acquired by birth), and any one of the situations listed below pertains to you, you could be eligible to apply for recognition of Italian citizenship by descent.
Your father was an Italian citizen at the time of your birth (i.e. was not a citizen of the US or another country when you were born);
Your mother was an Italian citizen at the time of your birth (was not yet citizen of the US and you were born after January 1, 1948);
Your paternal grandfather was an Italian citizen, your father was born in the US or a country other than Italy, and your paternal grandfather was still an Italian citizen at the time of his birth;
Your maternal grandfather was an Italian citizen, your mother was born in the US or a country other than Italy, and your maternal grandfather was still an Italian citizen at the time of her birth, and you were born after January 1, 1948;
Your paternal or maternal great-grandfather was an Italian citizen, your paternal or maternal grandparent was born in the US or a country other than Italy, and your paternal or maternal great grandfather was an Italian citizen at the time of your grandparent’s birth.
If your Italian ancestor was a woman born before 1/1/1948 she can only transfer Italian citizenship to her children born after 1/1/48 and to their descendants. This law has been appealed in several trials at the High Court of Rome. Please visit Italian Citizenship for Descendants of Women for detailed information.
If your Italian ancestor was born in the following localities, Veneto, Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, or Trentino Alto-Adige, in order to apply for the Italian citizenship you must prove that he or she left Italy after July 16th, 1920.
Italian ancestor born in Italy who naturalized as US citizens prior to June 14, 1912 lost their citizenship and so did their minor children born in Italy and living in the US as well as those born in the US.
Individuals must apply at the Italian Consulate that has jurisdiction over their place of legal residence. Each consulate has slightly different procedures regarding required documents and translations, appointment scheduling, and waiting times. However, the legal criterion for granting Italian Citizenship by descent is the same.
The National Italian American Foundation provides a free questionnaire that serves as a pre-qualifying tool to determine your potential eligibility for Italian citizenship by descent. https://citizenship.niaf.org/citizenship/citizenapp.asp
We provide a phone consultation service to review your case, to determine your eligibility to apply for Italian Citizenship by Descent, and to provide you with the specific document and translation requirements of the Italian Consulate Jurisdiction in which you reside. The fee for the 30 minute phone consultation is $80.00. If you would like more information on this service please go to our phone consultation page, otherwise click here to Schedule Your Appointment today!