With Italy emerging as a premier second passport destination for Americans, more and more people look forward to joining the bandwagon every year. You have better chances if you can trace your roots in the country because it offers the citizenship by descent option. But things are not as straightforward as they appear as the route can get complicated in the case of a female descendent. You can claim your right by bloodline, but the procedure differs if you have a woman relative. You can go through a great article written by Bersani Law Firm to understand how things differ. Let us explain the case of a female ascendant for citizenship by descent aspirants in this category.
Exception of maternal lineage
According to Jure Sanguinis, a person with Italian parents or ancestors qualifies for citizenship by descent. You only have to prove that your ancestor was an Italian citizen after the formation and unification of the country in 1861, and they did not give up their citizenship by naturalization in another country. But there are some exceptions to the general eligibility criteria.
The most significant exception applies to people with a female ancestor. If your ancestral line in Italy goes through a female relative who gave birth before 1948, you do not qualify through Jure Sanguinis. Italian women could not pass on their citizenship rights to their children before this date. However, it does not mean you cannot claim your right at all. You can still apply, but the process will be a judicial one.
The 1948 Rule
According to the current Italian citizenship by descent law, women cannot transfer citizenship to their children born before January 1, 1948. The rule is unfair and discriminatory against women and people with maternal ascendants. Just imagine that your younger siblings can acquire citizenship because they were born after 1948, and you miss out before you were born a year earlier. Thankfully, the Italian government realized the mistake and took a tangible step to address it with the 1948 Rule.
The new rule applies to people with maternal lineage and entitles them to claim their rights even if born before 1948. If you claim through the 1948 Rule, you will have to go through the Italian court rather than a consulate. Although it sounds more complex and daunting, the process is straightforward. You may even complete it before the administrative process if you have everything in place. A 1948 Rule specialist lawyer can help you make the journey smooth and easy.
Steps of the 1948 Rule application
The 1948 Rule is a judicial process that involves a series of steps to get the final verdict through a court hearing. Awareness and preparation make it less daunting, and so does having a seasoned lawyer representing your case. Here are the steps that you have to follow for a 1948 case:
Document gathering: The first step remains pretty much the same as the regular process. You have to collect the documents tracing your Italian lineage and detailing the life events of your ancestors in the country. The list includes birth and death certificates, records of marriages and divorces, and proof of immigration, naturalization, and name change.
Translation and legalization of documents: The Italian court accepts documents only in Italian, the sole official language in the country. You have to ensure that every document is in Italian and get it translated and certified if in another language. Further, all non-Italian documents have to be legalized with an apostille stamp.
Hiring a local attorney: After gathering your documents, you need to hire a local attorney, though you can do it earlier too. Ideally, you must look for one with a track record in 1948 cases because they know how the rule works. A local attorney can represent you in the court, so you will not even have to fly down for your hearing. You only have to provide them with a Power of Attorney for representing you in your absence.
File the petition: At this stage, you are all set to file the petition online. Just make sure to send signed Power of Attorney and all the certified documents before filing. It will enable them to start the proceedings in the local court.
Get a hearing date: After filing the application and submitting the documents, you will get a case number and hearing date. The court will also assign a judge for the case. You will probably have to go through a waiting period to get the hearing date. It could be anywhere from a few months to a year. Expect the case to close in a single hearing, though the judge may ask for a second one with additional documents. The final judgment may come a few months after the hearing.
Once you get a favorable verdict, you only have to register at the Italian comune of your ancestor. After this final step, you become a legal Italian citizen regardless of the gender of your ancestor.