Confirming Eligibility

ItalianGal/ Eligibility/ 42 comments

Southern Italy - Italian citizenship for Americans
As I started researching further to confirm I was eligible for Italian citizenship,  I found there were some very specific criteria Italian Americans have to meet to claim your Italian Citizenship jure sanguinis.

One of the key things I learned is, if  you meet the criteria, the Italian Government has essentially considered you an Italian Citizen all along.  You just need to prove it now.


The primary criteria are:

  • Your Italian relative had to have been alive in March 17, 1861 when Italy became a united nation.  If your relative died before then or was otherwise not a citizen of the country on this date, you are not eligible to claim citizenship through this relative.
  • An Italian American woman could not transfer her citizenship before 1948.  In 1948 a law was passed allowing women to be able to pass their Italian citizenship to their kin.  This was a key one for me.  More below.
  • Your Italian born relative had to still be a citizen of Italy when their next of kin was born.  If they renounced their Italian citizenship by writing a letter to the consulate or embassy or they became a naturalized US citizen before their kin were born, those kin and any of their children are not eligible for Italian citizenship.  In other words, if they were still Italian citizens when their children were born, then their children and their children’s children and so on are already considered Italian citizens by right of blood unless they naturalized or formally renounced their citizenship.  (Note: getting your citizenship through birth is different from naturalization which requires you actually apply for your citizenship.)
  • The exception to the above is if your Italian born relative’s parents became naturalized citizens of another country before June 14, 1912 and your Italian born relative was still a minor, they effectively lost their Italian citizenship and you would not be eligible through this route.  If your Italian born relative came to the U.S. as a minor before 1912, you’ll need to prove their parents did not naturalize before this date.

Although all four of my maternal great grandparents were Italian citizens when my grandparents were born, I could only claim Italian citizenship through my great grandfather.  The reason for this is my mother was born before 1948.   1948 is a special year because this is when the Italian government passed a law that citizenship could be passed down through a woman.  Since I was born after 1948, my mother can pass down her citizenship that she got through her father and grandfather to me.

The 1920 census still showed my great grandfather as an alien (my grandfather was born before then) and I knew through my genealogy search that he was born after 1861 in Italy.  Things are looking good.  Onward!



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  5. ok..I’m still trying to figure all of this out..and the dates get me really confused.
    My grandfather was born in Italy in 1888..came to the US in dad was born in 1929..I don’t know if or when my grandfather was naturalized..If he was not naturalized at I eligible? OR if he was naturalzied AFTER my dad was I eligible?
    I would love to find out that I am an Italian citizen..and I know my daughter would be thrilled to.

  6. Hi Karen,

    Yes, you are good.. provided that your Grandfather did not become a naturalized USA citizen between 1904 and 1929. can usually help you figure that out. Or the national archives website. What state do you live in? Or better question.. what state did your grandfather and father live in? Some states are easy to access, some are a real pain. I’m dealing with North Dakota right now (nice people, but a real pain)…. whereas other side of the family was all Chicago, and easy as pie to get information and records, etc.

    Best of luck! Let me know how things go or if you need any other info. I’ve been working on this for about a year now.

    Best Regards!

    PS: Is your dad still alive (or his siblings)? They would likely know if he was ever naturalized or not. They would remember it if it was during their lifetime. My one great-grandfather came over in 1905, and didn’t naturalize until about 1928, and his wife (my great-grandmother) until 1943 or so. My grandpa was born in 1918, so I’m golden! Cheers.

  7. Ciao,

    Thank you for posting all of this helpful information. I am still a bit confused and was hoping you could let me know if I am eligible for Italian citizenship.

    I am a 23-year-old American. My parents were both born in America. My paternal grandparents were born in Italy. My paternal grandpa died in 1992, so I am trying to apply for citizenship through my nonna. My nonna was born prior to 1948 and moved to America in the 1960s. My father was born in America and does not have Italian citizenship.

    Based on this, can you tell whether I am eligible? If not, can I still apply through my paternal grandfather, even though he is deceased? Does my father need to have Italian citizenship before I can apply?

    Thank you for your help! Grazie mille!

  8. Hi Frank- The determining factor of whether you are eligible will be when your grandmother or grandfather naturalized. It sounds like you have the potential opportunity to go through either of them as long as they naturalized as U.S. citizens after your dad was born (or did not naturalize at all). It does not matter that your grandfather is deceased. Your father does not have to apply for Italian citizenship if he does not want to.

  9. Hello,

    My Father’s Mother’s Mother was born in Italy in 1907, She came to US and was married in 1926 when she had my grandmother that same year. My father was born in 1957. Would I still be eligible?



  10. My paternal grandfather was born in Italy @ 1891 and naturalized in US 1930. Pateranl grandmotoher also Italian born and may have naturalized at same time as grandfather or may have derived US citizenship through him. My Dad was born in Italy 1926 and naturalized in the US around WW II before I was born. I was born 1949. It appears that both grandfather and Dad lost Italian citizenship when they naturalized. Does that mean if I want to claim Italian citizenship I would have to find a great-grandparent? Or does the grandfather suffice? It looks from what you say about a living ancestor in 1861 that I’d need a great-grandparent. Am I analyzing this correctly? Thanks for any guidance.

  11. With the Brasilians, as far as I know, most the separation is by chcoie. Many companies went to great lengths offering them language courses etc. Somehow, I agree, it didn’t really work. Why I don’t know. The handful of Taiwanese I know in Tokyo, no issues. They adapt. TWIL, when she was at university, she spent a year overseas. No issues, she adapted. Wherever she goes, she adapts. I go to the UK, I adapt. I go anywhere else, I adapt. When in Rome Heck, what am I saying, it’s the same issue here in the EU. Chinese, Vietnamese, Indians, they all adapt, integrate themselves into our society, learn our languages and are successful (I have a Chinese and an Indian family in my house, their kids are straight A students, the parents parent and work, and those two families are the friendliest and politest in the whole house, better than the natives.) Others, who I shall refer to only as the usual suspects , don’t do that, they end up building their own ghettos. Not because we’re so mean to them, but because they chose to do so. Of course, the media then blames us. There was a case several years ago, where a hospital in my hometown made a mistake and did surgery on the wrong immigrant woman, who, even after being here for roughly 20 years, didn’t speak one word German, so she couldn’t say anything to the staff, who, well, fell into the trap of all those foreign names sounding the same to our ears. Let me just say, she was not Chinese or Indian. Those adapt.Culture does play an important role. Ideology, too. A group that’s told that they are, let’s say, the master race, well, those won’t adapt. They will form ghettos. The Chinese, Indians, the Philipino nurses that were imported to Austria (cause we were lacking them, still do), they all came here to start new lives. They adapted. Most important is the will to adapt. I mean, what’s the point going to a foreign country and not being willing to adapt? I’ve heard some disgruntled oreigners leaving Japan after a while because uh things were so bad and they didn’t like this and that and every single such story I’ve heard came down to the point that they weren’t really willing to adapt.What did Mariko in Shogun say? In Japan there are only Japanese ways. As for the Philipinos, I think they’ll experience somewhat of a boost in Japan. After all, it was the Philipino nurses who stayed with their patients after 3-11 and didn’t abandon them, at least from what I’ve heard. They didn’t run, like so many foreigners (and sadly at least one S&R team as well.)But assimilation, according to Turkey’s idiot in charge, is a crime against humanity! Oh you! How dare you! You criminal!Biodiversity is a human concept and stands opposite to the natural order of things. The stronger, better prepared, better adapted species destroys the lesser one. That is the law of nature. Thus the penguin will destroy the purple-winged macaw. And Debito doesn’t really show great feats of adaption. Seriously, in the beginning I liked him, but somewhere he went off the deep end. I think the guy’s paranoid. He sees racism everywhere. Even in the elementary school of his kids.Or take bears to show that biodiversity is nonsense. The brown bear (hell yeah!) is almost everywhere. Europe, Asia, America. It’s not very specialized, it can adapt to many things. Now take the panda. It’s highly specialized and really only in some small areas in China. Brown bears eat almost anything. Pandas don’t, even though they could. Debito is the panda. I’m the brown bear. I adapt, he’s too specialized to adapt. I will survive and pass on my genes, he will be removed from the equation by evolution on the long run.Bear metaphors. Delicious. Need to use more of them.

  12. Hello,
    Thank you for all the great info but I’m SOOOO confused. Here’s the scenario, my mother was born in Italy in 1936 and came to the US in 1952. She married a US citizen. Can I go through her to obtain my Italian citizenship? Better yet, my husbands parents were both born in Italy, one moved here in 1958 and the other in 1969. Which route is easiest and can our kids also become citizens?

    Thanks for all your help!!

  13. If I can receive Italian dual citizenship through my great grandparents who were all born in Italy, can I pass Italian citizenship on to my four adult children now?

  14. Hello,
    My Grandparents on both sides were born in Italy never left. My parents came to US in the mid to late 1940 and became American Citizens 1950/1951. I was born in 1952. They later both became dual citizens. My mother moved back to Italy and lived and died there as an Italian citizen. My Sister is a dual citizen because she was born before they became American citizens. Can I not get citizenship through my grandparents. I am so Italian. I didn’t even speak English until I was in 1st grade. Can anyone help me.
    Thank you

  15. Digital citizenship is when you miss use tecolhnogy like using it to do bad stuff on the Internet and like cyber bully and stuff like that. To become a good digital citizen you could use like one of those sites where it doesn’t let you go on certain sites. I can’t really think of any electronics we could use. You could use the calculator app and you could write notes in your phone instead of on paper. No Youtube or bad Internet stuff only stuff we really need help with or stuff that we are told to look up.

  16. My paternal Great Grandfather was born in Italy in the late 1890’s, and came to America to start a business approximately in 1929. My Great Grandfather’s son was born in Italy around 1921. Eventually, my Grandfather came over to the USA in 1935 and did not have to go to Ellis Island and became a citizen upon entering the USA. My Dad than was born in 1944 in the USA, and his son (me was born in the USA in 1974). Since both my paternal Great and Grandfather were both born in Italy, does this qualify me for Citizenship jure sanguinis? Please help.. thanks

  17. I’ve heard the same thing, Victor. I’ve got an ATI card on my laptop, which was my first device I chose to beef up with OpenCL. I’ve got an Nvidia card on my desktop and I plan to get OpenCL on there as well, so I’ll post about how that goes too!

  18. I think that we should text you the inmaifotron or the answers and you could text us our spelling sheets. We almost use them all day every day. If we got a WIFI system in our class we would only be able to use it once we are done our work. For Friday we should only be allowed to bring a ds or our phones ipads and ipods.

  19. Thank you so much for this amazingly helpful website. I have a question about my wife’s eligibility, based specifically on the naturalization / time of birth question.

    Her paternal grandfather and all males before him were born in Italy and were Italian citizens, so I assume someone was alive on March 17, 1861. When her paternal grandfather came to the US, he became a dual citizen of Italy and US so never renounced citizenship. However, her father was actually born in France in transit from Italy to US (late 30’s or early 40’s). Her father was then naturalized a US citizen when he was around 7 years old, and renounced his French citizenship at age 18 to avoid the French draft. Her father is unclear if he ever was actually an Italian citizen, but if so he might have renounced it when he was naturalized.

    So, her paternal grandfather was indeed an Italian citizen at the time of her father’s birth, but her father was not an Italian citizen at the time of her birth (1980). Does one negate the other or is she still eligible?

    We live in New York, and he paternal grandfather arrived in NY and lived the rest of his life here.

  20. Hi

    My father and grandfather were born in Italy. They came to the US when my father was 4. Both were naturalized then. Can I get Italian citizenship through my father or grandfather?

    thanks – lauri

  21. Hello everybody,

    The provided information has been very helpful. I however still need some help.
    I believe my only available options are claiming right of blood through my paternal grandmother’s parents, and my father’s paternal grandfather.

    Here is my situation:
    -I can only begin my search for eligibility through my fathers line
    -Both paternal grandparents were born in Italy but were already naturalized US citizens(thus renouncing Italian citizenship) by the time of fathers birth in Massachusetts in 1971.
    -I believe my paternal grandmother did something along the lines of, applying for Italian Citizenship again after her US naturalization but never renewing the application.
    -My paternal grandmother was born before 1948 and was a naturalized US citizen in 1968.
    -Both of may paternal grandmother’s parents were born in Italy and were Italian Citizens at the time of my grandmothers birth, which was in Italy.
    -Can I claim eligibility through my paternal grandmother’s parents at all? If so what do I need to know?
    -My paternal grandfather’s mother was born in the United States and moved back to Italy, where she gave birth to my paternal grandfather.
    -This is where I don’t have a lot of information, but I do know my paternal grandfather’s father was an Italian Citizen at the time of my grandfathers birth in Italy.
    -If this is the case, am I eligible by my paternal grandfather’s father? Even if my paternal grandfather is no longer an Italian citizen and wasn’t at the time of my father’s birth?

  22. Can’t seem to find the answer, this is my situation.. I was born in Italy in 1945. At that time my mother was an Italian citizen and my dad was an American soldier stationed there. They married, and moved to the United States in 1947. I have family in Italy and we correspond on a regular basis. What do I need to do to claim Italian citizenship?

    1. Unlike the US, being born in Italy does not automatically grant you citizenship. This is further complicated in that you were born before 1948 and you are seeking citizenship through the maternal line. Women could not pass down their citizenship to their children until 1948. At least that it how this law has been interpreted by US consulates. I don’t think you will be able to go through any of the US consulates and be approved for your citizenship because of this. Assuming your mother was not naturalized as a US citizen before you were born, which according to your description it does not sound like it, you may be able to hire a lawyer in Italy to fight the 1948 law and claim your citizenship. I have had several readers email me and let me know they were successful in going this route. I’m not aware of any other options around this.

  23. I have a question. I was born after 48, both of my Maternal Grandparents are Italian citizens, my mom was born in Italy, but became an American. Is there a way for it to transfer over or do I need to look at my dad’s side of the family?

  24. This is a great website and I appreciate the clarity with which you describe the procedure to claim Italian citizenship. There are many other organizations on the web that purport to provide services like finding documents, translations, apostilles, etc. for a fee. Do you have a recommendation for a reputable one that I could deal with? Thanks.

  25. My grandfather was born in Sicily in 1899. He came to US in 1906. He was naturalized in 1935. My father was born in 1926. I was born in 1958. My son was born in 1993. Is my son eligible to obtain Italian Citizenship? He was to play American Football in Italy and they want him to have dual citizenship.

    1. Hi Jay, Based on your description, it sounds like your son would be eligible to claim his Italian Citizenship. He would just need to provide all of the necessary documents to prove that he is an Italian citizen.

  26. Hi,
    My father is Italian. He renounced his Italian citizenship in 1980, and got his US citizenship. I was a minor at the time. I got my US citizenship in 1981. My father moved to Europe in 2005, and got back his Italian citizenship after establishing 2 year residency in Italy. I was unable to get my citizenship back at the time without establishing residency in Italy. My question is, now that my father got back his citizenship, can I automatically get it back? I have an appointment at the Italian Consulate, but the soonest available appointment is not until March, 2017. I made this appointment back in August.

  27. Hello! I am still very confused as to whether or not I am eligible. My great great grandfather was born in Italy in 1875. He naturalized in December 1904. My great grandfather was born (in USA) in June 1904 (6 months before his father naturalized). Does this make me eligible for citizenship?Thanks for your helpful blog.

    1. Hi Rebecca, You’ll run into the 1912 law. If an Italian citizen naturalized as a US citizen while they still had minor children, their minor children lost their Italian citizenship, even if they were born in the US. After 1912, minor children born in the US did not lose their Italian citizenship.

  28. My grandfather was born in Sicily in 1879. He became a naturalized US citizen in 1904. To the best of my knowledge, he did not renounce his Italian citizenship. My father was born in 1927. Do I qualify for Italian citizenship?


  29. Hi Chas, From the Italian government’s perspective, when he naturalized as a US citizen and took the US citizenship oath, he effectively renounced his Italian citizenship. Unfortunately, since this took place before your father was born, your grandfather no longer had Italian citizenship to pass down to him thus breaking the jure sanguinis chain.

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  34. Ok my great grandparents on my mother’s side came over from Sicily and did not renounce their citizenship. Neither did their children(my mom’s dad). My mom however was born in1941 before the 1948 rule. I was born in 1971. Does this mean I am not eligible for duel citizenship through jus sanguinis?? Thanks for any help. I’m just so confused.

    1. Hi Joe, as long as you can prove mom’s male side of the Italian lineage maintained their Italian citizenship, you should be eligible. In your situation, it would need to be your great grandfather, your grandfather, your mom, you. Since you were born after 1948, your mom would have passed down her Italian citizenship to you. Since your mom was born before 1948, she could only get her citizenship from a man. You’ll want to make sure your great grandfather did not naturalize before your grandfather was born.

  35. Hi Italiangal!
    My grandfather(my Mom’s dad) went through naturalization and became a citizen of the US in 1929, however my mom was born in the US 1938, if his father( my great grandfather) remained in Italy would I then be eligible for citizenship? Thanks!

  36. So my husband’s grandfather was born in Italy to Italian parents about 1890. He married and had 4 children. He traveled back and forth between the USA without his wife and children. He naturalized in 1926. He returned to Italy and had a son, John in 1927. Did that make john an American AND Italian citizen at birth? John moved to the USA in the 1940’s, married, and had 3 children. He applied for and earned his american citizenship in 1962. His daughter Joann was born in 1960. His son nick was born in 1967. Nick can’t claim dual citizenship but can Joann?

    Johns wife was born in 1929, 3 weeks after mother arrived to USA from Italy. Her father naturalized in 1922 (also going back and forth for many years). I assume because of the 1948 law they can NOT go through the mother’s side.

    Now, my 2nd great grandparents (pietro and Angelina) came to the USA about 1888. My gr grandfather was born in NY about 1890. If my 2nd gr grandfather pietro didn’t naturalize or join the military can I claim dual citizenship through his line (and subsequently my children)? Angelina wouldn’t be an option because she was born before 1948. (?)


  37. Add on to previous comment. Pietro born in Italy (probably never naturalized) had a son Pasquale born in NY 1890, he had a daughter maria born 1914 in NY, she had a son 1943, then he had me 1966. So I am thinking I cannot claim through this line because maria was born in 1914 therefore cannot pass on citizenship (the line broke with her).

  38. This is all very confusing….My mother was born in Sicily in 1917 and came to the US with her parents when she was 6 years of age. I have proof of entry through Ellis Island from their website. My mother was eventually naturalized. Do I qualify for Italian citizenship?

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