The process of recognizing Italian citizenship, known for being long and bureaucratic, gained new possibilities last week, and it can become much faster for those who want to fulfill the dream of getting closer to their roots.
The Italian Parliament approved a reform of the Civil Procedure Code related to citizenship processes through the judicial route. As of June 22, applications do not necessarily need to be judged by the Court of Rome and can now be evaluated in the region of birth of the Italian relative.
The change can make the process run faster, as it lessens the burden on the Court of Rome by allowing other courts to participate.
Rafael Gianesini, CEO and co-founder of Cidadania4u, a company specializing in Italian and Portuguese citizenship, believes that the process will be faster since this is the objective of the change, but explains that other challenges may arise: “Before the reform, we already knew the understanding of the judges, which was pretty uniform. Now, we are ‘in the dark’ because of the new possibilities of interpretation of the cases”.
The expert also points out that if the request is denied, the family can appeal the decision, but the case cannot be analyzed by another Italian court.
For citizenship to be recognized, one must be a direct relative of an Italian. One of the great advantages is that the judicial process allows all family members to be recognized in the same application. Furthermore, there is no ‘limit’ of kinship and the ancestors do not need to be alive.
The documentation part is the most important of the whole process, because documents are essential to prove kinship. In the vast majority of cases, it is necessary to have the birth, marriage and death certificates of the direct family from Italian.
The conventional process is to gather all the documents and apply for citizenship at the Italian consulate in the region where you live. Until then, the process could last about 12 years due to the large number of cases, but now the period should decrease, with the possibility of other courts analyzing the requests.
However, Gianesini explains that there is an Italian law to ensure that the process does not last more than two years. “We took the indications that the consulate of the region will not analyze the request in the necessary time and we filed a lawsuit against this illegality.”
Marcello Scozzafave is the great-great-grandson of an Italian and started the process to obtain citizenship in 2007. “I hired a company to check all the documentation and do the sworn translations, the services cost around R$ 3,500 for each person in my family, already with consulate costs.
After the documentation was delivered, the family waited 12 years to be seen by the consulate, but citizenship was only granted in May this year because the Covid-19 pandemic further delayed the process. Now, Marcello has applied for the citizenship of his 3-year-old son Diego.
It is also possible to speed up the process by opting for the recognition of citizenship directly in Italy. The applicant needs to obtain the Códice Fiscale, the Italian CPF, and have a declaration of residence in the region. After that, the documents will be analyzed by an Italian officer, who can visit the residence within 45 days.
A very common obstacle during the citizenship process is the closest relationship coming from an Italian woman married to a foreigner and with children born before 1948, due to a law in the country that provided that women assumed their husband’s citizenship when they married.
The measure was considered unconstitutional in 1975 and it is possible to file a lawsuit in Italy so that citizenship can be recognized through the mother’s path.
Difficulties and tips
The main difficulty of the process is the search for the documents of the relatives, so many people need to hire professionals specialized in genealogy. All certificates must be in full content and in a sworn translation into Italian.
Many documents also have modified names and different information about the same person, which can create many obstacles. In addition, if the relative became a naturalized Brazilian, the Italian citizenship of their family members is no longer recognized.
Because of these difficulties, in addition to some procedures requiring judicial resources, the process can become expensive. The search for certificates can cost up to around R$5,000 and the costs for lawsuits reach almost R$35,000. However, as many people from the same family can be part of the same process, the price drops a lot when it is shared with other relatives interested in citizenship.
“A very important tip is to talk to relatives about family history, much of this information can be essential to locate documents. It is also much easier to start the search from your data to the data of the Italian relative, not the other way around”, explains Rafael Gianesini.