ITALIAN NATIONALITY LAW – ITALIAN CITIZENSHIP BY DESCENT
Italian nationality law is the law of Italy governing the acquisition, transmission and loss of Italian citizenship. Like many continental European countries it is largely based on jus sanguinis. It also incorporates many elements that are seen as favourable to the Italian diaspora.
ACQUISITION OF CITIZENSHIP
Italian citizenship can be automatically acquired
• By birth to an Italian parent in line with the principle of jus sanguinis.
• By birth in Italy to stateless parents, to unknown parents, or to parents who cannot transmit their nationality to their children; this is partially consistent with the principle of jus soli.
• With the acknowledgement or legitimation of an Italian mother or father.
THROUGH SPECIAL APPLICATION
• For an individual whose parents were Italian citizens born outside Italy but at least one of their grandparents was an Italian citizen born in Italy.
• For individuals who were born in Italy to foreign parents but who have resided in Italy continuously from birth to adulthood.
Foreign women who married an Italian citizen before 27 April 1983 were automatically granted Italian citizenship.
After 2 years legal residence in Italy, or 3 years living abroad. This time will be reduced by half if the couple have children (natural or adopted). The spouse of an Italian citizen can apply for Italian citizenship through naturalisation.
A person who has been legally resident in Italy for at least ten years may apply for and be granted naturalisation as an Italian citizen if he or she does not have a criminal record and has sufficient financial resources. The residence requirement is reduced to three years for descendants of Italian citizen grandparents and for foreigners born in Italy, four years for nationals of EU member states, five years for refugees or stateless persons, and seven years for someone who was adopted as a child by an Italian citizen.
SPECIAL ACQUISITION OF CITIZENSHIP THROUGH “IUS SANGUINIS”
Citizens of other countries descended from an ancestor (parent, grandparent, great-grandparent, etc.) born in Italy may have a claim to Italian citizenship by descent.
One must apply through the Italian consulate that has jurisdiction over their place of residence. Each consulate has slightly different procedures, requirements, and waiting times. However, the legal criteria for jus sanguinis citizenship are the same.