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JLeslie's avatar

Can someone help me with Italian citizenship?

Asked by JLeslie (47500 points ) August 21st, 2010

It actually is not for me, but for a relative. He was born in the US, his father is Italian. If I remember correctly my relative did, and probably still does have an Italian passport. The thing is he is 18 now, and I want to check for him if he needs to apply to maintain his citizenship, or does he just get to keep it without doing anything? I hate for him to lose it, especially now with the EU passport, which could give him incredible opportunity in the future.

I know Italy is pretty lax about giving citizenship to Italians (meaning granting citizenship to people who were not previously citizens but have a parent or grandparent who was Italian) so maybe I am worried for nothing, and they simply don’t take away his right to be an Italian citizen as he becomes an adult.

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19 Answers

lillycoyote's avatar

I don’t know where you live but I would suggest contacting someone at the nearest Italian consulate or embassy. If someone there can’t answer your questions, then they can probably at least steer you to someone who can. Or contact the U.S. State Department, though I’m not sure what “department” of the State Department you would need to talk to. Or contact an attorney who specializes in immigration and citizenship issues.

Nullo's avatar

Definitely go for the consulate. My memories are a bit fuzzy, but I think that he’s probably still a citizen.

JLeslie's avatar

@lillycoyote Good idea to call the embassy or consulate. Why would the US state department know?

Thanks @Nullo

Hopefully someone will answer who has direct experience on the matter.

lillycoyote's avatar

@JLeslie Why would the U.S. State Department know? Because your friend was born in the U.S. Maybe, I’m wrong, but the U.S. State Department tends to know things related to the status of people born in the U.S. and how that might relate to their status in other countries. It’s kind of what they do. And direct experience is fine, but personally, I would tend to trust the experts regarding matters related to my citizenship, but that’s just me.

JLeslie's avatar

@lillycoyote I just didn’t think the US State Department has to concern itself with citizenship rules of other countries. They might concern itself with dual citizenship, maybe not allowing citizens to have dual with specific countries. Is that what you were getting at?

Of course I agree that I am not just going to leave it up to a fluther response, but someone might be able to direct me to the right page on a website or have a family member who has gone through it and knows some basic stuff. If someone Italian can read the Italian government website on the matter, that would be great. I have an Italian friend who can probably help me do that, but I was hoping not to ask him for the favor. Still, I think the embassy is a great idea.

lillycoyote's avatar

@JLeslie Yes, there might be issues of dual citizenship involved, not necessarily about allowing or denying, but your friend is a U.S. citizen and if you start with the U.S. State Department they might be able to steer you in the right direction without needing a translator.

JLeslie's avatar

I know people who are dual Italian American, so that is not an issue. But, thank you for raising the issue, it might have been for a different country.

lillycoyote's avatar

And here’s a little info maybe to get you started. I don’t know how reliable it is.

JLeslie's avatar

@lillycoyote Thanks for the link. It does not say anything about turning 18, so I think my original assumption might be right that since he already has an Italian passport, he gets to keep it, without having to do anything. I will mention it to his mother after I collect a little more info. I did not want to bring it up without having done some research. That part of the family tends to have a knee jerk negative reaction to people suggesting they might have overlooked something, instead of being thankful someone brought it up. If you know what I mean.

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BarnacleBill's avatar

This may provide some of the information you are looking for.

JLeslie's avatar

@BarnacleBill That link is confusing to me. It says The Italian citizens who became U.S. citizens prior to August 15, 1992 lost the Italian citizenship. He was born in early ‘92, but I think technically he did not become a US citizen, he was born one. I get the feeling he is Italian as long as he does not renounce his citizenship to Italy.

I think I will leave it to his parents to figure it out. Either way, even if he loses it, he will almost for sure be able to get it back, since his father is Italian. They would just have to deal with the paperwork.

BarnacleBill's avatar

For most other countries, if you are born in the US to a foreign born parent who has not become a US citizen at the time of your birth, you have citizenship both as a US citizen and a citizen of that country, unless you renounce it. In enjoying the benefits of citizenship of those countries, you are also subject to its laws and conscription.

I was born in Canada and became a US citizen while my children were in elementary school. They have both US and Canadian passports. I have only US citizenship; in order to become a US citizen, I had to take an oath and renounce my Canadian citizenship. Being born in the US, my children did not have to go through that process; their proof of US citizenship is their birth certificate. In order to get a Canadian passport, they only had to prove that 1) I was born in Canada and 2) that I was still a Canadian citizen at the time of their birth. They worked with the Canadian consulate, and were not asked to choose one or the other. Any children they have would not have dual citizenship if they were born in the US and their father was an American citizen.

JLeslie's avatar

@BarnacleBill I thought if a person is born and raised outside of the US, but has an American parent, they are entitled to dual citizenship, assuming the other country gives citizenship to the baby, but that America requires the person, once they reach the age of majority to do some sort of paperwork to maintain US citizenship. I guess maybe I was wrong about that. Believing this is what started my thought process on this.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Acquisition of U.S. Citizenship By a Child Born Abroad

Birth Abroad to Two U.S. Citizen Parents in Wedlock: A child born abroad to two U.S. citizen parents acquires U.S. citizenship at birth under section 301© of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provided that one of the parents had a residence in the U.S. prior to the child’s birth.

Birth Abroad to One Citizen and One Alien Parent in Wedlock: A child born abroad to one U.S. citizen parent and one alien parent acquires U.S. citizenship at birth under Section 301(g) INA provided the citizen parent was physically present in the U.S. for the time period required by the law applicable at the time of the child’s birth. (For birth on or after November 14, 1986, a period of five years physical presence, two after the age of fourteen is required. For birth between December 24, 1952 and November 13, 1986, a period of ten years, five after the age of fourteen are required for physical presence in the U.S. to transmit U.S. citizenship to the child.

Birth Abroad Out-of-Wedlock to a U.S. Citizen Father: A child born abroad out-of-wedlock to a U.S. citizen father may acquire U.S. citizenship under Section 301(g) INA, as made applicable by Section 309(a) INA provided:

1) a blood relationship between the applicant and the father is established by clear and convincing evidence;
2) the father had the nationality of the United States at the time of the applicant’s birth;
3) the father (unless deceased) has agreed in writing to provide financial support for the person until the applicant reaches the age of 18 years, and
4) while the person is under the age of 18 years—
A) applicant is legitimated under the law of their residence or domicile,
B) father acknowledges paternity of the person in writing under oath, or
C) the paternity of the applicant is established by adjudication court.

Birth Abroad Out-of-Wedlock to a U.S. Citizen Mother: A child born abroad out-of-wedlock to a U.S. citizen mother may acquire U.S. citizenship under Section 301(g) INA, as made applicable by Section 309© INA if the mother was a U.S. citizen at the time of the child’s birth, and if the mother had previously been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for a continuous period of one year.

From this, it sounds like, if a child is born abroad after 1986, to one American citizen, that American parent must have returned to the US to live for 5 years between the birth of the child and age of citizenship, with two of those 5 years being after the age of 14. For children born between 1952 and 1986, the parent is required to live in the US for 10 years, with 5 years being after the age of 14. Its not clear as to whether the parental residency requirement is between age 14 and 18 or 14 and 21.

JLeslie's avatar

Interestingly this child was born during wedlock, neither parent was a US citizen, and at 9 months they moved out of the country. The mother and child moved back to the US when he was around the age of 5, eventually there was a legal divorce. The father has never lived again in Italy or America. But of course my original question was about Italian citizenship for him, not US.

The child’s sister, was born outside of the US, I don’t know if she ver bothered to get an Italian passport, I am not sure what passport she travelled on before she became a US citizen when her mom finally became a citizen here (one big reason her mom became a citizen was to insure her daughter had the same rights and opportunties as her son. She had wanted to come back for the birth, but her husband was against it at the time). The girl/sister may still travel on a non-US passport she is 15. Although I doubt it, because renewing at a consulate would be more of a pain then just going ahead and applying for a US passport once the old one expired.

Thammuz's avatar

If i’m not mistaken you don’t lose your citizenship after turning 18. My cousin has been living in france since she was 4 and she didn’t have to do anything, both her parents are italian though so i don’t know if it’s the same thing. As far as i know there should be no difference, if he had it he still has it.

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