I did it! I finally did it! I applied for Italian Dual Citizenship!
I know you’re probably thinking one of two things: How? Why?
By Descent. My great grandfather was born in Italy and didn’t naturalize to become an American citizen until after my grandmother was born, which meant that his Italian citizenship (although unrecognized at the time) actually passed on to her. Because she never actively gave it up, it also passed on to my mother and then to me.
In order to prove all of this happened I had to gather a long list of official documents – birth, marriage and death certificates, my great-grandfather’s naturalization certificate and several others (in my case it got a little complicated, but we’ll get more into the documents later) – get an apostille (a kind of internationally recognized notary) for each one, and then have the ones that were in English translated into Italian.
Then I had to make an appointment at the Italian Consulate of Los Angeles for someone to review my documents and any discrepancies. After that, I’ll have to wait for them to process everything before I can get an Italian passport and officially be considered an Italian citizen.
The Why: this is more complicated.
People get Italian dual citizenship for a variety of reasons, but as I’ve met more and more people with the status I’ve realized that for a lot of them it is purely sentimental. They feel like they are connecting to a family history and culture that may have been lost, somewhat, over the generations after their ancestors emigrated out of il bel paease. When someone officially recognizes their “forgotten” Italian citizenship, that citizenship is then “officially” passed on to their children, and their children’s children. When a child is born – whether in Italy or abroad – each Italian citizen has the obligation to report it so that no further generations are “lost”.
Others have said they have filed for Italian citizenship because they would like to live or buy vacation property in Italy at some point, something that is much easier if one is an Italian citizen (a lot less red tape). If you do plan on living in Italy, you will probably be appreciative of the fact that as an Italian citizen you have the right to vote, to benefit from the Italian health and social systems (including unemployment, maternity and sick leave benefits), and access to Italy’s largely free education system.
Perhaps you’re a big investor and want to be able to invest in offshore mutual funds, securities and real estate without restriction, including Eurobonds, unit trusts and investment funds.
And of course, Italy is part of the European Union, allowing an Italian citizen to travel, live and work in any of the EU countries, not just in Italy.
That’s what did it for me: being an Italian citizen will open up limitless overseas work opportunities, giving me the option of applying and securing a position in Europe, should I ever feel the time was right. I have a deep love of history and culture and whenever I’ve been in Europe, I could feel the immense power of those who came before me in every building, piazza and field. Being able to travel a short distance and experience a completely different culture with its own deep-rooted traditions is something that never stops thrilling me.
The process of dual-citzenship can be a long one, but starting the process now means that if I decide that taking a job in Europe is the right thing for me to do, the biggest hurdle will already be conquered. I won’t have to worry about finding a company willing to sponsor a work visa and – for multi-national corporations – my ability to work and travel without restriction might even give me the leg up over other candidates when applying for a position.
Of course, there are always drawbacks to take into consideration; nothing is 100% perfect. If I make large amounts of money there could be tax issues; there are tax agreements in place to prevent double taxation by either country, but it only holds up to a point. If I were to ever seek a job in the US government, it may (or may not) be an issue or affect my security clearance. If I don’t enter the US with my US passport or Italy with my Italian passport, I’ll be flagged after 90 days (good thing I’m organized). If I get into legal trouble in Italy, the US government will not intervene because technically I’m in my home country; the same goes for the Italian government if I ever get in legal trouble in the US. There’s obviously a small monetary cost to maintaining two sets of documents – passport renewals, hiring the correct accountants to sort out taxes, etc.
No one knows what the future holds, of course, but I don’t foresee any of those things really becoming much of an issue for me, personally. I can only make decisions with the information I have at hand, and that information tells me that the positives greatly outweigh the negatives.
So how did I do it? Where did I get the documents? How much did it cost? How long did it take?
That’s another post