Want to know what naturalization is?
It’s the procedure through which immigrants voluntarily become citizens of a country, whether that be in the United States or other nations.
If you want Italian citizenship by descent, you’ll need to find your ancestor’s naturalization records. Those records contain all the legally recorded info as to how the immigrating ancestor naturalized in the US.
There are certain crucial guidelines to follow when searching for naturalization records. The first of those is where those records are stored.
The location of the records is determined by where and when the naturalization paperwork was issued, as well as numerous other important considerations.
Naturalization documents help you locate the ship, date, arrival port, and birth location of your ancestor. You can use them if you are undertaking genealogical research or preparing your Italian citizenship application.
The amount of information those records hold depends on the following points…
Before 1906, naturalization processes were held in US state, municipal, and local courts. That system continued in certain circumstances for a brief time afterwards.
Following 1906, the federal court system became in charge of examining and granting US citizenship. This system lasted until 1991, with control shifting over to the INS (Immigration and Naturalization Services).
The two-step process started when a foreigner (called an “alien”) submitted a declaration of intent to become a citizen. After a certain amount of time (generally three years), immigrants or foreign nationals were allowed to file for citizenship via a petition.
The petition was analyzed in court. If it was approved, the applicant would receive a formal citizenship certificate. If the certificate was given by the federal court system, then you’d likely find the declaration stored in the US National Archives (along with the citizenship certificate and the petition documents).
There are many National Archives facilities, each servicing a different state. But because a central index isn’t available, searching for vital records requires you to ask the appropriate facility (or) you to query each facility in order to be comprehensive. The citizenship certificate was often mailed to newly naturalized citizens as well as the INS.
Currently, the USCIS is in charge of all INS archives dating back to September 27, 1906. Following April 1, 1956, the petition system shifted from the Certificate Files (called C-Files) towards Alien Files (called A-Files).
Applicants searching for their naturalization paperwork can submit a request to the USCIS (via the Freedom of Information Act).
Finding the citizenship certificate of an Italian-born family member might be difficult, given all of the various places you can search.
When submitting dual citizenship applications, Italian consulates in the USA may ask for an apostilled copy of the documents from the US National Archives. Because the National Archives can only offer certified copies, an apostille must be sought from the US Department of State.
In many circumstances, even if there aren’t naturalization records available, it’s still acceptable to petition for Italian citizenship by descent using a “Certificate of Non-Existence of a Record of Naturalization.”
If so, the US National Archive will give you a "negative search letter" indicating that your ancestor’s naturalization records aren’t in their possession. In that case, the USCIS is the only authority allowed to issue the “certificate of non-existence.”
Finding your Italian ancestor's naturalization record is a necessity.
Why? Because to qualify for and receive Italian citizenship, your ancestor’s naturalization should not have been completed before their next descendant’s birth.
As an example, if a grandfather was Italian-born and they received dual citizenship of the USA before your father’s birth, the applicant may be eligible for Italian dual citizenship (assuming other conditions are met).
At Global RCG, we can help you collect your naturalization records. We will do an extensive investigation to find and provide you with certified copies of each document, as specified by Italian embassies. And if we cannot find you the required documents, we will compile the requisite "No Record" requests and related census records.
Get started today. Contact us for a consultation and find out if you qualify for Italian citizenship!