Help - question on naturalization before 1912

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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Help - question on naturalization before 1912

Postby mikep123 » 21 Apr 2006, 04:29

My great great Grandfather emigrated to New York from Italy in 1888 and obtained US citizenship in 1906. My great Grandfather was born in the US in 1898, prior to my great great Grandfather becoming a US citizen. My great Grandfather was eight years old in 1906.

Is it true that since my great great Grandfather naturalized before 1912 that his minor children lost their right to Italian citizenship? Just to clarify, 1912 appears to be the year that the "right to return" law was enacted.

The SF Italian consulate has told me this, but I have not seen this mentioned anywhere else and have talked to another family member of mine that also spoke with the consulte and was never told this.

Thanks!!!
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Re: Help - question on naturalization before 1912

Postby mler » 21 Apr 2006, 05:38

Mike, as far as I know minor children were indeed naturalized along with their parents, and that is the situation that seems to have applied to your great grandfather.

I don't think the year of naturalization will make a difference to Italy if your great grandfather's naturalization is on record. You may want to check the 1920 and 1930 censuses to see how he is listed.
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Re: Help - question on naturalization before 1912

Postby wldspirit » 21 Apr 2006, 10:13

faq on citizenship......
http://www.italiamerica.org/id71.htm
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Re: Help - question on naturalization before 1912

Postby mikep123 » 25 Apr 2006, 00:59

For those interested, I received a document titled "jure sanguinis informazioni.doc" from the Italian Consulate in San Francisco which states the following:

"ANCESTORS NATURALIZED BEFORE JUNE 14, 1912 CANNOT TRANSMIT CITIZENSHIP (EVEN TO CHILDREN BORN BEFORE THEIR NATURALIZATION)"

My assumption is that the law on this matter prior to 1912 resulted in children born to an Italian parent before naturalization to lose their right to Italian citizenship along w/ the parent at time of naturalization.

Bummer!
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Re: Help - question on naturalization before 1912

Postby mler » 25 Apr 2006, 03:36

Wow, that is indeed a "bummer." The Italian citizenship laws are incredibly complex. The 1912 law you mention has probably messed up a lot of potential applicants as does the 1948 ruling that applies to women. Any chance you can apply through another relative?
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Re: Help - question on naturalization before 1912

Postby mikep123 » 26 Apr 2006, 05:08

I'm only of Italian descent on my Mother's side and she doesn't qualify for the reason mentioned above so it looks like I'm out of luck.
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Re: Help - question on naturalization before 1912

Postby lazer » 23 Aug 2011, 07:48

>> I don't think the year of naturalization will make a difference to Italy if your great grandfather's naturalization is on record. You may want to check the 1920 and 1930 censuses to see how he is listed.

This might answer the same question I posted elsewhere on this site. Basically, if my G-GF is listed as "papers" on a 1917 draft card and on the 1920 census, is it safe to assume that his father never naturalized prior to 1912? In 1912 my G-GF would have been seventeen years old, still a minor.
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Re: Help - question on naturalization before 1912

Postby johnnyonthespot » 23 Aug 2011, 12:32

Hi, lazer.

If I had Moderator powers here, I would break out this or your other post into its own new thread for the convenience of one and all. :)

Your analysis is reasonable. At least so far as your GGF was concerned, he did not gain citizenship through his father and thus he was applying on his own. However, there are any number of problems with this:

1) it is possible that his father did naturalize prior to June 14/June 30, 1912 (there is some disagreement over the true effective date of the law), and your GGF simply was not aware or was not aware that it would have affected him as well. He filed papers on his own not realizing that he already gained citizenship.

2) GGF may have fibbed when completing the draft card and responding to census-taker's questions in 1920. There was a lot of fibbing going on at a time when proof was not required to be presented.

3) regardless, the consulate will want to see a great deal more evidence regarding naturalization status. In particular, although supporting documents like the census are desirable, they are considered just that - supporting documents. You will still need the all important "No Records Found" letters from multiple sources. This is especially true because, from what we have seen, the Italian Ministry of the Interior has been really cracking down on the naturalization aspect of jure sanguinis applications in recent years.

Due to the timing of events related to your GGGF and GGF, you will need to separately prove the naturalization status of each of them.

* you will need to prove that GGGF did not naturalize prior to either June 14/June 30, 1912, or GGF's 18th birthday, or GGF's "date of emancipation", whichever came first. Date of emancipation refers to the date that GGF began acting in an adult capacity; the details may be argued, but things like taking a wife and moving out of the family home or joining the military might apply.

* you will also need to prove that GGF did not naturalize on his own prior to the birth of his own child, presumably your GF.

In each case, proof consists of locating an actual naturalization document - a naturalization certificate or a signed Oath of Allegiance (which actually appeared on the backside of the Petition for Naturalization document). If no such document can be found, then suitable letters stating that fact are required from, at a minimum, the USCIS, the National Archives, and the state and county courts covering every jurisdiction in which the person was known to have resided in the years of concern. Remember, these requirements will apply separately to both your GGGF and your GGF.
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Re: Help - question on naturalization before 1912

Postby johnnyonthespot » 23 Aug 2011, 12:57

For completeness, I want to address one other issue...

Most consulates seem to be fully aware of the complexities of US naturalizations. One scenario that I have seen raised before by a consulate goes like this:

Giuseppe emigrates to the US in 1900 with his 3 year-old son, Francesco, in tow.

Giuseppe naturalizes in 1907. Because Francesco was just 10 at the time, he automatically gained US citizenship and lost the right to Italian citizenship due to the 1912 law. Of course, Francesco, being just 10, knows nothing about this or simply forgets about it.

Francesco marries in 1922; his wife gives birth to their son, John, in 1924.

Francesco, seeing WWII looming in the mists and with Italy aligning with the Axis powers, decides now would be a good time to show his loyalty by becoming a US citizen. He files the necessary papers. No one bothers to check to see if Francesco is already a citizen; the courts assume that if anyone would know that fact it would be Francesco himself. Francesco is granted citizenship in 1941.

You, John's descendant, think Aha! - Francesco naturalized in 1941, well after John's birth, so I am covered. This is wonderful news!

The consulate however looks at Francesco's naturalization petition and sees that he entered the US in 1900 at the age of 3 years and immediately begins asking questions. Obviously, he did not come on his own; was he with his father? Did his father naturalize before June, 1912? The consulate recognizes that Francesco's 1940 naturalization may in fact be a second iteration and wants to ensure that he did not actually lose his Italian citizenship much earlier, sometime between 1900 and 1912.

Thus the reason why you are required to produce proof of naturalization status for both Giuseppe and, separately, for Francesco.
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Re: Help - question on naturalization before 1912

Postby Xaymara » 23 Aug 2011, 20:22

johnnyonthespot wrote:For completeness, I want to address one other issue...

Most consulates seem to be fully aware of the complexities of US naturalizations. One scenario that I have seen raised before by a consulate goes like this...


The scenario you described has me awfully worried now, a month before my appointment in Los Angeles. My grandfather arrived in this country in 1901 at the age of 17. He traveled with his brother and came to join his widowed mother, who had arrived a year earlier. The thought that my great grandmother could have naturalized while my grandfather was still a minor never crossed my mind. She died in 1914 in NYC and my grandfather naturalized in 1920 in Puerto Rico.

What do you recommend I do at this point -- request from NARA a full search? What if I'm asked about my great grandfather, who died in Palermo before the family immigrated. I have an old birth and marriage (from Palermo) certificate and a death record (from NYC) of my great grandmother but no birth or death certificates of my great grandfather.
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Re: Help - question on naturalization before 1912

Postby johnnyonthespot » 23 Aug 2011, 20:32

So far as I know, there is nothing your great-grandmother could have done in regards to naturalization which would make a difference to your case.

Firstly because women at that time rarely naturalized on their own; they usually did so only by "tagging along" on their husband's naturalization and then only until 1922 when the "Cable Act" put an end to automatic naturalization of female spouses.

Secondly because prior to January 1, 1948, Italian women could not pass citizenship onto their children; Italian citizenship was passed only through the father. Since his mother could not pass citizenship to him, I would expect that she could not "take it away" from him, either. :)

I think you are okay. You may want to go ahead and obtain GGF's birth and death atti from Italy as backup materials, but I would not fret too much.
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Re: Help - question on naturalization before 1912

Postby Xaymara » 23 Aug 2011, 22:11

My great grandfather was born on 27 august 1836 so his birth was likely registered at his parish. The search for this record may be difficult or lengthy. I don't know when he died but it had to be somewhere between the birth of his last child (1889) and his wife's immigration (1900). Without an exact date I know I won't get anywhere in the municipal archives. I know where he lived in Palermo because I've visited the house many times but none of the relatives there know when he died or where he's buried.

I checked my great grandmother's record on the ship manifest to see what was written under marital status but there were only two choices, married or single and there's an M in the corresponding square. I think I'll have to take my chances and hope that this issue is not brought up at the appointment.

Just out of curiosity, do you remember which consulate was the one that raised this issue?
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Re: Help - question on naturalization before 1912

Postby lazer » 06 Sep 2011, 11:45

1) it is possible that his father did naturalize prior to June 14/June 30, 1912 (there is some disagreement over the true effective date of the law), and your GGF simply was not aware or was not aware that it would have affected him as well. He filed papers on his own not realizing that he already gained citizenship.


I am sure you are right that the consulate will want to double-check to rule out this possibility, but I would hope that the odds of it having happened very often were extremely slim. All four of the censuses instructed the enumerator to list "Na" for anyone who was naturalized either through petition or by their parents. This means the enumerators, in the spirit of reducing errors (and especially in later censuses), probably explicitly asked, "did you naturalize through your parents?" as this question would have been less likely to receive a false response than simply, "Are you naturalized?" Also, everyone in the community must have known the rules regarding naturalization like the backs of their hands, as it was probably an extremely common topic of discussion. It was also a serious one, as naturalizing prior to June 14/30 1912 would have lost Italian citizenship for any spouses and children who had stayed behind in Italy. So the idea that someone as an adult in the (usually tight-knit) Italian community would have gone through the entire process of becoming naturalized unnecessarily just seems a little out there to me. When it must also be assumed that, in order to naturalize twice, the fact that the parent had already naturalized would have had to have slipped past the INS when they did the background checks, the possibility of it happening very often becomes even more incredulous. If it even happened at all.
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Re: Help - question on naturalization before 1912

Postby lazer » 06 Sep 2011, 11:57

Also, I would assume that any applicants who didn't know that they had already been naturalized by their parents would have been screened out very early in the process. Especially if it was somehow common for adult children to not know that they had already been naturalized, it would have been something the already-swamped INS would have wanted to clarify immediately, before the process even got started.

Basically, I just don't see how it could have happened very often, if it even happened at all. There simply would have been too much error-checking built in, both by the government as well as by the applicant's family and community.
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Re: Help - question on naturalization before 1912

Postby lazer » 07 Sep 2011, 02:01

This is the kind of thinking I go through to assuage my fears. Does anyone know of it actually happening (being erroneously granted citizenship twice)? A general Google search for the phenomenon doesn't turn up any hits.
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