Jure Sanguinis: Dual Citizenship Through Ancestry
Jure Sanguinis means, continuity of blood. In the 1970’s, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Dual Citizenship for American’ citizens is legal. In Italy and under Italian law, the taking of the American Oath of Citizenship constitutes a voluntary surrender of your Italian citizenship. So, for many of us, our naturalized ancestors surrendered their Italian citizenship. OK. But now, it get interesting! Because if their children were born in this country before they were naturalized, these children remained Italian citizens according to Italian law.
My grandfather, born in Italy in 1892 arrived at Ellis Island in 1912. He married an Italian American woman and had six kids. One of them, in 1934, my father. Granddad applied for naturalization in 1942 and it was granted in 1946. Since my father and his brothers were born BEFORE my grandfather became an American Citizen, according to Italian Law, these children were ITALIAN CITIZENS (along with being American citizens). BUT my fathers two younger sisters who were born AFTER my grandfather became an American citizens, are NOT Italian citizens.
What does this mean? It means that as long as I could prove lineage through my fraternal side via documentation, I could apply for Italian citizenship and be granted dual Italian/American citizenship via jure sanguinis, continuity of blood.
First, you must determine whether or not you actually qualify for jure sanguinis. Below is a list that should get you started then log onto www.italiandualcitizenship.com/ for more in depth information:
- Your father was an Italian citizen at the time of your birth and you never renounced your rights to Italian citizenship (trust me. you haven’t done this.)
- Your mother was an Italian citizen at the time of your birth, you were born AFTER January 1, 1948 and you never renounced your rights to Italian citizenship.
- Your father was born in the USA, his father was an Italian Citizen at the time of his birth and neither you or your dad renounced your rights to Italian Citizenship.
- Your mother was born in the USA, her father was an Italian Citizenship when she was born and you were born AFTER January 1, 1948 and neither of you renounced your rights to Italian citizenship,
- Your paternal or maternal grandfather was born in the USA, your maternal or paternal GREAT grandfather was an Italian citizen at the time of his/her birth, neither you nor your father/mother nor you grandfather/grandmother ever renounced rights to Italian Citizenship.
OK. So, now you have pretty much determined that you can apply for citizenship because you fall into one of the above categories. It’s time to get more information and start collecting documentation. Remember that this is a lengthy and complex process. Be as organized as you can.
Let’s assume that you know when and where your Italian ancestor was born and/or can get your hands on his/her Birth Certificate . This is critical. If you don’t already have this document you can write to the comune of his/her birth to request a copy. Or, better yet, go there if you can and get a certified copy in person. There’s nothing like walking in the footsteps of your ancestor!
Next, search the web for the Italian Consulate which covers the State in which you live and log onto their site (you can find your local consulate here) Somewhere in their web-site you will find the list of documents you will need for the category you fall into. Read the list of required documents carefully, follow the instructions given by your Consulate and you will be on your way to collecting everything you need in order to apply for your citizenship. You should also be able to find the Jure Sanguinis Application in your Consulates web site which you will need to complete once you have all the documents you need and are ready to present everything to your Consulate.
Call, e-mail, write or visit your Consulate office as soon as you can to arrange an appointment to bring your completed, apostilled and translated documentation to present to them. Since most Consulates are extremely busy, make this appointment right away but give yourself enough time to collect all the documents you need.
The following is a list to remember and personal suggestions as you begin to gather all your documentation. Remember, this process is long and time consuming. Samples of Letters of Request for Documents and helpful web-sites follow:
- All documents must be in “CERTIFIED COPY” or “LONG FORM”. This is critical. If you have original documents, keep these for your personal records and request by mail “Certified, Long Form Copies” of originals from the Vital Statistics Office of the State in which the Birth, Death, Marriage, or Divorce took place. (This does not apply if you have your Italian ancestors original birth certificate from Italy)
- There can be no discrepancies in the spelling of names, dates and places of birth relating to your Italian side on all documents.
- If there are discrepancies, these must be corrected with an official “affidavit to amend a record” requested from the Vital Statistics office that issued the document. This is a letter of request that you mail. They will send you an amended document.
- The Certificate of Naturalization CAN NOT be amended. If there is something incorrect on this document, you must write a letter of explanation to the Consulate. For example: My grandfathers date of birth was off by one year on his Naturalization Certificate. I called NARA and asked them to locate his Military Registration card to see if his birth date was accurate on that record. It was, they sent me a certified copy of this document and I included it with my letter of explanation and Certificate of Naturalization. This was acceptable proof by the Italian Consulate in my neck of the woods.
- ALL documents EXCEPT your Italian ancestors Birth Certificate AND Certificate of Naturalization MUST have Apostilles attached. An Apostille is a legalization provided by the Secretary of the State of the State where the document was issued. This is NOT a stamp on the document....it is an attachment stapled to it. Once you receive your document, you must send it along with a Letter of Request for Apostille to the Secretary of State to request the Apostille. Certified, Long form copies of documents are not automatically apostilled. This is a separate request.
- ALL documents EXCEPT those already in Italian, the Certificate of Naturalization and your Italian ancestors Birth Certificate MUST be translated from English into Italian. You must use a translator recognized by the Consulate in your jurisdiction. You should be able to download a list of translators from your Consulates web-site. The translations should be clipped to its appropriate document once you get them back from your translator. *Be advised that some Consulates will translate your documents for you. Check with your Consulate before you go to this expense*
- If you have children under the age of 18 years, you must submit each child’s Certified, Long Form Birth Certificate(s) legalized with Apostille and translated into Italian. These children will automatically become dual citizens along with you. You do not have to apply separately for them.
- If you are divorced, you must submit a Certified, Long form copy of your entire Divorce Decree. This Decree must also be Apostilled AND translated. You must translate the WHOLE document...every page. You must also request the Superior Court of the county where your divorce was finalized to provide you with a “CERTIFICATE of NO APPEAL”. Since the Superior Court will probably not have one of these forms, you will have to provide them with one that you type up yourself. This document must be Apostilled and translated as well. See below for a sample of the “Certificate of No Appeal”.
- If you have children from this marriage, a copy of the Birth Certificate of your ex-wife/husband must be included in your document package. This need only be a regular copy. Have it translated.
- If you are a male under the age of 45 years you will have military obligations to Italy. Contact your appropriate Consulate for further information.
- Make sure you provide the Consulate with the name, address and phone/fax number of the comune where you would like your documents sent. This should be the comune of your ancestors birth and NOT Rome. You can usually find this information if you GOOGLE the name of your ancestors town on the internet.
- Apostilles for jure sanguinis have no expiration.
- The person in charge of the Dual Citizenship Department of the Consulate which services your area is the one who determines whether or not you get citizenship. NOT the comune in Italy. The comune in Italy only registers your documents and keeps them in their records.
- Keep detailed COPIES of EVERYTHING you mail.
- Mail everything via FEDERAL EXPRESS. This speeds up the process and you will be able to track what you send if necessary.
- In all your requests for documents, always include a stamped, return addressed envelope, a copy of your Driver’s License or Passport and make payments in Money Orders. Don’t send personal checks.
- Schedule your appointment with your Consulate ASAP but make sure to give yourself enough time to collect all the documentation you need. It took me a year to collect all my documents, get them amended when necessary, then Apostilled and translated. I do NOT recommend that you mail your documents with your written request for Dual Citizenship to the Consulate . Present them in person.
- Try to make an initial trip to your consulate to meet the person in charge of the Dual Citizenship Department and bring along your list of questions. Try to think of as many questions you might have and get answers while you are there. Ask for any and all forms they think you may need. It’s better to have them than to find out after the fact that you need to complete “one more form”.
- It is common for the busier, larger Consulates to, a) Not answer the phone when you call, b) Not return your calls, c) Not respond to e-mails or letters. If you do happen to get someone on the line be prepared for them to be very rushed and sometimes not understand your question. This is why it is crucial to try and make a personal trip to the Consulate which services your area.
- Be prepared to wait A LONG TIME for a response from your Consulate after presenting them with all your documents. The San Francisco Consulate, for example, is approximately a year to a year and a half back-logged. They are not even taking appointments until sometime in May 2005. I have been informed that there has been an big increase in the amount of people applying for Dual Citizenship in the last few years.
- Be vigilant. Don’t get discouraged. It’s complicated, frustrating, time consuming but worth it!
For your Italian certificates, the translations of your English language documents into Italian and a free counselling service to guide you through the entire process of acquiring dual citizenship visit: http://www.italiandualcitizenship.com/
Samples letters to request the above mentioned documents are included in the following downloadable file.
Sample Letters .pdf file
Letter of No Appeal for Divorce .pdf file
This page was written by Donna Capozzi
who is currently in the process of obtaining her Italian citizenship.