My passports for Dual citizenship with Italy and the US

How to become an Italian-American citizen!

Have you ever considered applying for dual citizenship with Italy? Cause you could be eligible through your family line without sacrificing your American nationality. In 1992, Italy made it possible to apply for dual citizenship, then loosened the requirements about 15 years ago, so the maternal line is now eligible!  If you have any ties back to our favorite boot shaped country, you could be in luck. If you are of Italian descent and the Italian in question had not naturalized as a citizen in another country before the familial connection was born, you are generally able to apply to become an Italian citizen.  Sound complicated?  Don’t worry, it is.

How is this all possible?

Surprisingly, amorous Italy has one of the lowest birth rates in the world, due to all the young people moving into the big cities or out of the country for work. Women can now pursue education and aren’t so reliant on having a man bless her with many babies in order to be a conventional part of society. So, Italy decided to open up its doors to outsiders, in a move less of bureaucratic open-heartedness and more of desperation. Now, Italian culture is granting many people back into its beautiful land with dual citizenship, presumably with the hopes of repatriation and repopulation of the Italian way of life.  While this is good news for you, Italian passport hopeful, this in no way means the process has become easier or more streamlined. It took my mother Elizabeth over 3 years and me over 5 to complete this whole song and dance.  If you’re looking for an easy way in, citizenship through ancestry may not be for you.

Where do I start with dual citizenship?

Elizabeth comes from Italian descent, her grandparents being from from Campania and Calabria. We started tracing her family’s roots to re-establish our connection with Italy in the early 2000s, and that’s how this whole Escape Artists thing started. So, that’s where you should begin, by locating for your link back to Italy.  Start asking grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins twice removed that still live back east. Find the person that you can legally prove is your ancestor and begin amassing documents. You’re going to need EVERYTHING: birth, death, and marriage certificates, divorce ones as well if applicable. Gather your precious papers together for each link between you and your Italian family member and make copies, just in case.

Don’t worry if this already seems stressful, we are here to help you navigate the murky waters of red tape in applying for dual citizenship of Italy and the US.  In true Italian style, the government is in zero rush to aid any prospective citizens, and functions at a molasses pace.  The average contact at your city’s consulate is an hourly employee with no incentives, generally coming from a very Mediterranean work ethic with a lot of cigarette and coffee breaks. Remember, I adore this culture and the people, but stereotypically, they are not known for their high rate of productivity.

What kind of challenges am I facing?

The hardest part of getting citizenship in Italy is compiling all of the exact documents needed, then sludging through the long waiting periods to actually get things done. You need to be prepared for anything. Some certificates won’t be obtainable unless you physically go to the city hall or main church of the town of your heritage.  There is no separation of church and state here, so sometimes what you’re looking for can only be found in an oversized leather bound book, located by a grumpy old priest who’s only in the office from 10-12 on Tuesdays and Fridays. Even after you have everything, actual appointments can come with at least a 5 month waiting period, especially in these pandemic times.

Once your appointment time has mercifully arrived, have copies and originals of everything. Show up with a stamped envelope, just in case. Have exact change of all amounts.  If your total is $83.24, you better have exactly $83.24, because they are not making you change nor are they holding your appointment so you can run out to 7-11 and try to convince a clerk to break a $1 bill for you. No, they don’t accept checks or credit cards. Every little thing must be translated and apostilled (certified by a notary public), and it will be highly scrutinized.  You must follow the all the rules exactly and should learn a few phrases of Italian along the way, if only just to make a good impression.  And remember, bringing along a box of donuts for the office never hurt anyone.

What if I get overwhelmed??

Don’t fear, that’s what we’re here for! Contact us to discuss your eligibility and how we can assist you in your dream of becoming an Italian citizen, whether you’re just starting or only have one form left to go. Let Escape Artists be your guide!

Elizabeth and I with my new Italian passport for dual citizenship!