Italian Citizenship by Descent: How Long Does the Process Take?

Are you inquiring on how to get Italian dual citizenship? Maybe you're looking at ancestry (jure sanguinis), or citizenship by marriage?

If so, keep reading. Below, we'll specifically look at Italian citizenship by descent. We'll look at the amount of time required to get citizenship.

As for eligibility requirements, this isn't something we'll discuss in this article. Instead, we'll look at the time required to complete an application and then receive legal recognition as a citizen of Italy!

Italian Citizenship by Descent: Basics

Before exploring the timeline and process for acquiring Italian ancestry citizenship, it is important to note that applicants need legalized copies of their family vital records. This is required, regardless of the representative they apply to (whether that be a US-based consulate or elsewhere).

Examples of the records required include:

  • Death and Birth Certificates. Those are produced (in the United States) by the Department of Health, although in some situations they can be acquired at a county level agency.
  • Marriage Records. Usually, they are found in the county that issued the specific marriage license. Keep in mind that it's critical to get legally acceptable copies of the marriage applications or licenses. The reason being, those papers often give the applicant's parental names, which are then utilized by employees examining your application as a way to authenticate your Italian ancestry.
  • Divorce Decrees. Found in the court where a specific divorce case was filed. Keep in mind that for divorced applicants, you also require a "Certificate of No Appeal." This ensures that no appeals are filed after case summaries or a final judgment.
  • Naturalization Evidence (or lack of evidence). This is provided for the linked ancestor born on Italian territory before immigrating to the United States. These records are given by the USCIS, NARA, or at the county where the naturalization took place.

The records listed above are those most likely required by applicants wanting an Italian dual citizenship. However, note that some embassies in the United States or abroad (and in Italian municipalities) only ask for vital records for your direct descent line. Thus, it's best to revise the documents required with the authority that's processing your application before handing them in.

Collecting the Documents Needed for the Citizenship Application

It usually takes three to nine months for all records to be collected, although this varies depending on the applicant's unique situation and how long vital record offices require for processing. Certain health departments may need six to eight weeks to transmit certified legal copies of those records.

Some entities do exist (like VitalCheck) that provide services meant to ease and speed up the acquisition of needed records. Alternatively, it is possible to obtain those records on your own, but this varies from one records office to another, where many do not offer walk-in services.

After all of the data is gathered, you must revise each document and check for discrepancies that may cause a rejection. If that occurs, you'll need to file for an amendment.

Getting an amendment is like searching for vital records. It might take a few weeks based on the exact vital records office where you applied. If no discrepancies exist in the documents (with regards to birth dates or names of people in your line of descent), then the records must be apostilled for validation, and then translated into the Italian language.

Apostilles and Translations

An apostille is granted by two legal entities, those being:

  • The Secretary of State (and)
  • The United States Department of State (which grants federal documents)

Both grant apostilles in a few weeks. Certain Department of State offices accept walk-in services and can grant an apostille on the request day. With that, if you submit records that were granted outside of the United States, you must ensure that they meet the legal requirements for translation and legalization.

Documents translated from nations other than the United States must be validated before being presented to an Italian embassy in the United States. However, consulate offices (including ones under the Washington DC Embassy and Boston's Italian consulate), demand legalized translations of US documents before submitting them.

Translations need to be validated if you're applying through the Italian judicial system. At Global RCG, one of the services we offer includes translating the documents required for you. We'll also help you certify them at an Italian court. This'll take up to two weeks.

The timeline required to prepare an application may increase or decrease based on the individual's special circumstances. Those include a multitude of factors, including:

  • The quantity of vital documents required to apply
  • The US states and countries where the documents can be acquired
  • Documents that require an amendment and certain translations that may require certification

Citizenship Application Processing Times via Italian Consulates

You are prepared to file an application after acquiring, legalizing, and translating all the required vital documents. If your residence is in the United States, you must choose the consulate you'll apply to. This’ll be set based on your legal address.

After that, visit the Italian consulate's website. Apply for their online booking, called Prenotami. After you've registered and verified an account, you may log in to schedule an interview for Italian ancestry citizenship.

Waiting periods vary from one consulate to another in the United States. But, since the COVID-19 outbreaks, several consulates have opted to handle received applications through the mail. And this has improved processing times, making it faster and easier for new applicants to come in.

Alternatively, other Italian consulates have shifted from in-person consultations to brief phone calls. They'll also demand that applicants submit their applications electronically first, before sending them citizenship kits (by mail) after revising their online application.

Italian consulates are given a maximum of 24 months by law to process citizenship applications. But normally, most applications require less time to process.

If an Italian consulate doesn't process an application by the 24 month timeframe, (or) if a consulate's web booking system doesn't showcase enough interview options for an applicant living in the consulate area, (or) if waiting times for an interview exceed the allowed timeframe by law, legal options do exist to remedy those problems.

However, if you petition for Italian ancestry citizenship through a consulate outside of the United States, then expect a slightly faster processing period to receive legal recognition of Italian citizenship. For example, an Italian consulate in Asia or Europe will have less applications to handle than in the US. Therefore, applicants won’t have to endure a two-year waiting period to receive citizenship.

Processing Times Through an Italian Municipality

If you desire to skip the waiting times for appointments (or consulate processing times), there's another alternative to follow. You can try applying through an Italian municipality. This is often quicker than applying through a consulate in your home state.

In order to submit an application in Italy, you must first establish a legal residence there. After that, you can submit the application to your own municipality.

There's one important point to consider. When applying for citizenship in Italian territory, you're required to prove to your municipality that you are legally using the real estate where you plan to reside (example, a property deed or lease agreement). You're also required to get proof from local law enforcement to verify your residence on said property (this should be acquired 45 days before submitting your residence application).

After your resident status is confirmed, you may apply to the town hall’s citizenship office. You'll need to hand in the entirety of your collected vital records.

That aside, the rest of the process should be easier, since establishing residency or petitioning for Italian citizenship by descent shouldn’t require you to schedule an interview with any locality. And in the rare scenarios where interviews are needed, the waiting periods tend to be short.

A municipality typically requires a few months to finish processing an application. However, actual waiting times may fluctuate based on which municipality you apply to. If the procedure takes more than three months, you'll be required to get a residence permit.

Citizenship Processing Time Via Italian Courts

What happens if your application falls under the 1948 case? If so, you can go to an Italian court and apply to be recognized as an Italian citizen. When doing so, don't forget that since 22nd June 2022, each 1948 case must be submitted to an Italian court (with the ancestor's birth municipality jurisdiction).

After the paperwork is completed and you've authorized an attorney for your representation, the lawsuit may be filed. The matter will then be given to a judge, and they will set a date for the initial hearing. Waiting periods vary widely based on when the judge is available, although it might reach up to eighteen months.

At the initial hearing, the applicant's vital records will be reviewed by the judge. If no other papers are necessary, the judgment to approve or refuse the applicant's citizenship claim should be issued on the hearing's day. Alternatively, it may be issued within weeks of that date.

The ruling is then handed to the court's clerk after you win the lawsuit and with the court's formal acknowledgement of your Italian citizenship. Your attorney may be required to wait another sixty days for a final decision from the judge. This will make the subject no longer susceptible to appeal.

After that length of time has passed, you can seek a legalized version of the court's final decision. You'll need to register it with the Italian embassy in the jurisdiction of your residence. The Italian consulate should then present a legalized court verdict copy (along with certified copies of your vital documents) to the Italian town that is your ancestor's birthplace. Finally, your records will be registered at the AIRE.