citizenship possible after generations in the US

Over 25 million Italians have emigrated between 1861 and 1960 with a migration boom between 1871 and 1915 when over 13,5 million emigrants left the country for European and overseas destinations.
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italianfrombuffalo
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citizenship possible after generations in the US

Postby italianfrombuffalo » 14 Jan 2011, 09:51

hi everyone,
this is my first post here and it concerns my husbands ancestors. his grandfather's grandparents all came from sicily and came to the US around 1900-1905. i have been reading on here that some of you are trying to get an italian citizenship through direct ancestors. is this really possible even though the family has been out of italy for so long and even though they already got the US citizenship (and most likely didn't care much about their own anymore)? for example, his great-greatgrandparents came to US and became americans, had children that were americans and not italians (i doubt they did the whole process back then). and then the children had children as well that were of course only americans. could they really claim italian citizenship now? this seems so unreal?

i ask because my husbands grandmother was french and naturalized in 1956. i wrote to the french embassy here in berlin (we live in germany now) and they told me that all children born prior to the naturalization can claim french citizenship. but those children can only give the french citizenship to their own children if they were french at the time of the birth of their child. as an example:
grandmother born 1923, naturalized 1956, had a son in 1955. he could claim french citizenship. his son cannot because his father did not have the french citizenship at the time of the son's birth.
i would assume italy does it the same way since it is part of the european union and we pretty much share our laws. but if someone can prove me wrong, go ahead! would be funny if he had the right to an italian passport.

thanks for helping out!
best regards from europe!
mel

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Re: citizenship possible after generations in the US

Postby mler » 14 Jan 2011, 13:55

Each country in the EU has its own citizenship law. Your husband's eligibility is based on Italy's law, which is different from that of France. If he can trace his Italian citizenship back to his greatgreatgrandfather, he can apply for Italian citizenship jure sanguinis. Unlike in France, Italian citizenship is conferred when the child is born to an Italian parent even if that parent is unaware that he possessed Italian citizenship.

There are two basic qualifiers.

First, his Italian greatgreat grandfather (the one who was born in Italy) must not have naturalized before his greatgrandfather's birth. If that is the case, your husband MAY be able to trace his citizenship line.

You'll note that I said "greatgrandFATHER" and "greatgreat grandFATHER." This is because the citizenship line only passed through males before 1948.

So two dates are important: the date of naturalization and 1948.

If these dates work out for you, your husband will need to establish a continuous line from his greatgreatgrandfather with birth, marriage, naturalization and death certificates.

It is not an easy process because some records are difficult to locate and often spelling errors in names create unresolvable discrepancies. But the process is both interesting from a genealogical perspective and rewarding.

Best of luck.

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Re: citizenship possible after generations in the US

Postby ForzaItaliaPgh » 14 Jan 2011, 13:57

Actually, the case is different in Italy than in France. In your example, Italian citizenship law would NOT exclude any of the succeeding generations to Italian citizenship b/c there is NO generational limit.

Italian law recognizes citizenship on a "jure sanguinis" basis - meaning that Italian citizenship is automatically passed on at the time of birth of a child of an Italian citizen. This child then passes the citizenship on, EVEN if his father/mother never had their citizenship "officially" recognized. This continues without limit.

The only caveat is, no one in the line of descent through which your husband is claiming can have renounced their Italian citizenship (unlikely b/c they most likely didn't know they were "secretly" passing it on).

Back to your example, if the grandmother was born in 23, naturalized in 56 and had a son in 57 - citizenship WOULD NOT pass on to future generations. The son being born in 55 (ie prior to naturalization) the citizenship passes on to the son and through the son to ALL his children, grandchildren, etc. EVEN without the son realizing it.

Hope that helps!
Researching BARONTINI family from Tuscany

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Re: citizenship possible after generations in the US

Postby ForzaItaliaPgh » 14 Jan 2011, 13:58

mler beat me to it while I was writing and with a better answer to boot ;)
Researching BARONTINI family from Tuscany

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Re: citizenship possible after generations in the US

Postby johnnyonthespot » 14 Jan 2011, 14:04

Hi, Mel.

There is no generational limit for Italian citizenship jus sanguinis ("by blood right"). There are rules, however.

1) the original Italian citizen ancestor must have been alive at the time of or after the unification of Italy - roughly, 1861. In other words, if you are relying on a great-great-great who left Italy in the 1840's, it is critical that he was still living in 1861 and that he had not already taken on a different citizenship through naturalization.

2) the original Italian citizen who left Italy must have still held his Italian citizenship at the time of the birth of the next person in the lineage. If he became a naturalized US citizen, for example, in 1910 then any children born after that date would not be able to inherit Italian citizenship from him because he himself no longer had it.

3) an Italian citizen female, no matter when she was born, could not pass citizenship directly to her children born prior to January 1, 1948. Before that date, Italian citizenship was passed only by the father.

4) a non-Italian woman who married an Italian citizen male prior to April 27, 1983, automatically gained Italian citizenship at the moment of marriage.

So, using myself as an example, my grandfather emigrated to the US in 1910. My father was born in 1921, and my grandfather naturalized many years later in the 1930's. Hence, my father - without knowing it - inherited the right o Italian citizenship at the time of his birth. As an aside, the situation on my mother's side was roughly similar.

I myself was born in the 1950's so I inherited Italian citizenship from my father and - as it turns out - from my mother as well. I married in 1982, thus my wife (Irish/English/Swedish) gained Italian citizenship at that time. Our son was born in 1986, and gained Italian citizenship as well.

Now, keep in mind that I didn't know anything about this until the 2005'ish and did not seriously pursue the subject until late 2007. My Italian citizenship was officially recognized in 2008 and both my wife and our son were granted citizenship at the same time. If my son ever settles down and has children of his own, they will be Italian citizens as well.

Does this answer your questions? If you take a few moments to list the complete lineage on your husband's side, we can give you an answer to your specific situation.
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Re: citizenship possible after generations in the US

Postby johnnyonthespot » 14 Jan 2011, 14:09

Well, I hope we answered Mel's question! :)
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Re: citizenship possible after generations in the US

Postby italianfrombuffalo » 14 Jan 2011, 18:53

wow, johnnyonthespot answered everything and even more :wink:

that is really interesting how the citizenship laws are different. i checked his family and since the italian immigrant has to be male and his son must have been born prior to the father's naturalization, i have found one that matches. here is the line:

- (great-greatgrandfather) francesco, born about 1870 in italy, immigrated to the US in 1889, naturalized in 1906
- (greatgrandfather) joseph, born 1894 in the US
- grandfather born 1930 in the US
- mother born 1960 in the US
- son (my husband) born 1982 in the US

so you tell me if it works. the other side (maternal grandparents of his grandfather) doesn't work.

if my husband decides to get the citizenship recognized, what are the next steps? gathering all birth and death certificates and the naturalization papers?

all this is so interesting. thanks a lot!!!

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Re: citizenship possible after generations in the US

Postby italianfrombuffalo » 14 Jan 2011, 19:01

and one thing i am curious about: what are you doing once you have the italian citizenship? do you plan on moving to italy?

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Re: citizenship possible after generations in the US

Postby johnnyonthespot » 14 Jan 2011, 19:02

italianfrombuffalo wrote:wow, johnnyonthespot answered everything and even more :wink:

that is really interesting how the citizenship laws are different. i checked his family and since the italian immigrant has to be male ...


The immigrant does not have to be male; the only difficulty is that an Italian female could not pass citizenship directly to her children born prior to January 1, 1948. However, in your case...

... and his son must have been born prior to the father's naturalization, i have found one that matches. here is the line:

- (great-greatgrandfather) francesco, born about 1870 in italy, immigrated to the US in 1889, naturalized in 1906
- (greatgrandfather) joseph, born 1894 in the US


Wow, I hate to hate to bring this up, but where do you live? Some consulates (New York City and San Francisco, for sure) enforce what we call the "1912 rule" which essentially says that for an Italian who gave up his citizenship prior to July 1, 1912, all of his minor children also lost their citizenship rights no matter where they were born. So, there is a risk here that your consulate may refuse your application on that basis.
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Re: citizenship possible after generations in the US

Postby italianfrombuffalo » 14 Jan 2011, 19:29

we live in berlin (germany), so i would say the italian embassy is where he has to go.

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Re: citizenship possible after generations in the US

Postby mler » 14 Jan 2011, 19:38

The Berlin consulate's take on what we call the "1912 rule" will determine your husband's eligibility, and as far as I know, no one has reported information about this on this forum.

I would suggest you try to obtain a preliminary appointment at the consulate to determine your husband's eligibility. Make a complete list of dates--birth, marriage, naturalization, death--beginning with your husband's greatgreatgrandfather and working your way down to him. Ask them what specific documents they would require, but make no mention of the "1912 rule." If he is disqualified based on a pre-1912 naturalization, the consulate will tell you at that time; there is no need to encourage them to think about it.

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Re: citizenship possible after generations in the US

Postby italianfrombuffalo » 14 Jan 2011, 19:43

good to know. since i wanted to research his ancestors anyway it is at least not wasted time. it will be hard though to find out more about the great-greatgrandfather. especially about his death.

are you all in the US? is there a good "recipe" on how i can find out more? in germany i can go to the city hall and receive the birth, death and marriage certificate. does it work the same way in the US?

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Re: citizenship possible after generations in the US

Postby mler » 14 Jan 2011, 20:17

Death certificates are requested, but they are the least important in terms of citizenship. Most of the posters in this part of the forum are from the US, but certainly not all.

Many of the documents can be obtained by mail, but the laws and procedures are different from state to state. Do a google search on obtaining documents, and you will find much of the information you need. I should also mention that all of the documents (with the exception of those originating in Italy and naturalization documents) require apostilles (an official international certification) and will have to be translated.

But one step at a time. Get the dates, check with the consulate, and once you have the information, you can proceed.

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Re: citizenship possible after generations in the US

Postby johnnyonthespot » 14 Jan 2011, 20:30

I am fairly certain that documents which originate in the US and will be used elsewhere (in Italy or Germany) will also need an extra step after apostilles: they need to go to the Italian consulate serving the state which issued the apostille for "legalization".

Perhaps someone can confirm. I know this is true for documents which will be used when applying directly in Italy; I presume it to be true for applications filed anywhere outside the US.
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Re: citizenship possible after generations in the US

Postby italianfrombuffalo » 15 Jan 2011, 08:34

about the apostille i'm sure it works like with our marriage certificate (we got married in the US). we needed the county clerk to notarize and the secretary of state then gave us the apostille. here in germany we officially need a translation too but so far nobody ever asked for that and the original certificate+apostille was fine.

to make it clear for me, my husband does not need all the certificates when he first contacts the consulate? would an e-mail with all dates be enough?


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