Italian citizenship through maternal line?

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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Joined: 28 Oct 2019, 13:08

Italian citizenship through maternal line?

Post by aflyingbuttress »


I am assisting my husband with the process of obtaining Italian citizenship through his maternal line. The process of obtaining the right documents is rather in-depth and I want to make sure it's worth persuing before we begin going down that rabbithole. I am also planning to speak with a lawyer, but while I wait for that appointment, I figured I would start here.

Here's a timeline of events:
  • 1912 - Guiseppe (Joseph) Spada immigrated from Italy to the US
  • 1921 - Carmela Mongelli immigrated from Italy to the US (she was 20 years old and traveled without her parents, who stayed behind in Italy.
  • 1921 - Guiseppe Spada and Carmela Mongelli marry
  • 1925 - Guiseppe Spada naturalizes to the US
  • 1930 - US Census shows both Guiseppe and Carmela Spada as naturalized (note that the immigration years on this document are incorrect).
  • 1940 - Census shows Guiseppe as naturalized and Carmela with the Citizenship field blank.
  • 1941 - Carmela Teresa Spada (Guiseppe & Carmela Mongelli's daughter) is born in the US
  • 1976 - Pierre Perret (Carmela Teresa Spada's son) is born.
Now, the possible snag is that 1930 census record that shows Carmela as naturalized. I am unsure whether census records normally showed naturalized when the wife became a citizen through marriage to her husband. If I understand naturalization was a two step process that took 5 years. They didn't allow anyone to make a declaration of intent until they'd been in the US for 2 years. Carmela was already married at that point. And when Guiseppe naturalized in 1925 Carmela had been in the US for around 3 1/2 years. She would have become a US citizen when he naturalized, so I don't see any reason why she would seek naturalization since she automatically became a citizen when her husband did.

We have not been able to find any record of a declaration of intent or naturalization documentation for Carmela Mongelli. We've already requested information from the national archives.

I understand that in 1941 when my husband's mother was born, she would not have been able to pass down her citizenship even if she had still be an italian citizenship. But if my understanding is correct, the laws that would have made her lose her Italian citizenship upon marriage were deemed unconsitutional and restored her citizenship as a result (assuming we are indeed correct about not naturalizing), and that later laws also have made it possible to seek Italian citizenship through Italian courts.

Assuming all of this is correct (that I am interpreting the laws correctly and that Carmela did not ever renounce her Italian citizenship), would it be possible for my husband to seek citizenship? In otherwords, should we bother taking the steps?

Curious what other peoples opinions are. I am sure there are some way more knowledgable than I am in here.

Thanks for your help.
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