Italy ‘still committed’ to bill on citizenship rights for migrant children

Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said the government is still committed to a bill that would grant citizenship rights to children born to migrant parents.

Italy 'still committed' to bill on citizenship rights for migrant children
People take part in a demonstration seeking reform of Italy's citizenship law in 2016. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

A parliamentary vote on the bill, which has the support of the ruling Democratic party, was stalled in July amid vehement opposition from right-wing and centre-right conservative parties.

Gentiloni said at the time that the vote would be dropped until later in the year due to other “urgent deadlines”.

The announcement of the delay also came after a surge in migrant arrivals in June which brought the total arriving since the start of the year to almost 100,000. It also followed a poll which showed dwindling support for the legislation among Italians, even though such a path to citizenship exists in many other EU countries and despite supporters insisting the draft law has nothing to do with newly-arrived migrants.

Currently, children born to immigrant parents in Italy have to wait until they turn 18 before being eligible for citizenship.

The bill was also scrapped from the senate’s September calendar after failing to garner enough support in the upper house.

But Gentiloni insisted on Thursday it remained “a job to do”.

“It's still summer, the commitment we talked about remains,” he said.

Under the proposed legislation, one of the parents would have to have been legally present in Italy for five years for children born here to be granted citizenship, so it would not apply to those refused asylum and ordered to leave the country.

Along with the far-right Northern League, opponents include the Popular Party (AP), a small centrist party in the ruling coalition led by foreign minister Angelino Alfano.

The number of people arriving on Italy’s shores has fallen since the Italian government launched a crackdown on NGO search and rescue ships operating off the coast of Libya in the Mediterranean in July.


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Married an Italian? Here’s how to get your Italian citizenship abroad

You can apply for Italian citizenship if you get — and stay — married to an Italian citizen, but if you live outside of Italy there are some extra steps to know about.

Married an Italian? Here’s how to get your Italian citizenship abroad

So you’ve married an Italian — tantissimi auguri! A long life of good meals and sunny family reunions hopefully await you. And there are other perks, too.

Just this year, the Italian passport was ranked as the second most powerful in the world, meaning gaining your Italian citizenship is no small thing. An Italian passport will entitle you to live and work anywhere in Europe, and make residing in Italy much easier if you choose to do so in future.

Under Italian law, foreign spouses of Italian nationals are entitled to apply for Italian citizenship, with some qualifications — but the process can be anything but easy.

Here are the steps you need to follow to claim Italian citizenship by marriage from abroad.

Step 1: Register your marriage

First, if it was performed outside of Italy, you’re going to need to make sure your marriage has been properly registered with Italian local and national authorities.

Your Italian spouse must make sure to register with AIRE, the anagrafe italiani residenti all’estero or register of Italian citizens abroad. It’s possible they’ve already done this, as it is necessary for voting abroad and renewing any government documentation.

This is free and can be done at your local Italian consulate or via an online portal.

Then, as soon as possible after your wedding, you will want to register the marriage with your local Italian consulate.

This is done by filling out an application form and submitting it to your local consulate along with: 

  • a photocopy of the non-Italian partner’s passport or identity document
  • an original copy of your full-length marriage certificate, and
  • a translation of that marriage certificate, provided by a translator certified by your local consulate.

The certificate and translation must be additionally verified by legal authorities in your own country and those at the local consulate, a process known as apostille. This process varies from country to country and can involve paying for official translation or other additional costs.

Keep in mind that if you had a destination wedding abroad, your certificate, translation and apostille certification must come from that country, not where you reside.

READ ALSO: Eight of the most common mistakes when applying for Italian citizenship

Certain European countries are exempt from the apostille requirement. You should check with your local consulate to be sure of local requirements.

If you have a legally recognized civil partnership, these same processes will apply.

The consulate should take these documents and forward them to the correct municipality — the one your spouse included in their AIRE registration — to create a record there. But you may want to check, as having a local record in Italy is important later on.

You'll need to gather a number of documents in order to apply for Italian citizenship by ancestry.

You’ll need to gather a number of documents in order to apply for Italian citizenship. Photo by Romain Dancre on Unsplash

Step 2: Wait – and learn Italian

You’ll need to wait a while before you will be eligible to apply for citizenship. In the case of couples not resident in Italy, you need to be married a minimum of three years before starting your application.

This time is reduced to 1.5 years if you have children (either biological or adopted).

In the meantime, you might want to take the opportunity to brush up on your Italian, which you will need to secure your citizenship. Since 2018, it has been a requirement that those applying for Italian citizenship by marriage can meet the B1 standard of Italian or higher.

TEST: Is your Italian good enough for citizenship?

When you think you’ve reached this level, you will need to take a test to certify it.

For the purposes of citizenship applications, only certificates from private or public institutions recognized by the local consulate will be accepted. Contact your consulate for a list of eligible testing centers before booking a test.

Step 3: Prepare your documents

Once you have an account, you can begin uploading the documents necessary for your application. It’s a long list, but some you will already have from registering your marriage. Here’s what you need:

  • An original, full-length birth certificate that was issued no more than six months previously
  • An original criminal record report from every country you have lived in, going back to age 14 — you may also need to have these signed by a local police official.
  • A copy of your passport or identity document
  • Proof of address and/or residency (if you are not a national of the country where you reside)
  • A copy of your full marriage certificate, issued from the Italian municipality where it has been registered, and no more than six months old
  • Your proof of Italian proficiency to B1 level from a recognized language school
  • Proof of payment of a €250 fee to the Italian interior ministry (paid online via the ministry’s online portal — see below)

Any legal documents not in Italian — meaning, at least, your birth certificate and criminal record — must be translated into Italian by a certified translator and additionally certified apostille, as you did with your marriage certificate.

Once you have all those documents ready and your minimum time has elapsed, you can finally proceed to the application.

Step 4: Register and upload your documents

You need to apply for citizenship via the consulate in the country where your Italian spouse is registered with AIRE, and where you are a long-term resident. You’ll also need to be cohabiting with your spouse at the time, or able to provide documentation explaining why you aren’t.

To start the process, you will need to register with the interior ministry’s online portal. If you have a SPID you can use that to log in — otherwise, you can register for an account with your email.

Keep in mind this is the email they will use for all correspondence during your application.

Next, you’ll upload digital copies of all your documents and certifications, and pay your €250 fee. Make sure all the data you enter in the online form matches your documents exactly.

READ ALSO: Will Italian citizenship mean I have to pay tax in Italy?

You will also need to specify any children from previous relationships, and all addresses going back to when you were 14 years old. There can be no gaps.

After you submit, you will need to wait for the consulate to check that everything is in order. If your application is accepted, you will be invited to submit originals of all your documents to the consulate, including your passport, which will eventually be returned to you.

The details of the process for the document check, and other aspects of the citizenship application process, can vary by consulate.

Step 6: Wait again

The application process can take up to three years to be completed, though the authorities are supposed to try and complete their assessment within 24 months. 

If your application is successful, the interior ministry will send your local consulate a ‘citizenship decree’ that will authorize you to take the oath of citizenship. But hold on — you aren’t done yet.

Before you take the oath, you will need to be able to confirm, with a newly issued marriage certificate obtained from an Italian municipality after the date of the decree, that you are still married to your Italian spouse.

You will also need an updated criminal record check, translated and apostilled, to show you haven’t committed any major crimes while your application made its way through the system.

Lastly, you’ll pay any outstanding fees.

Step 7: Take the oath

Finally, after those final checks, you’ll be invited to take the oath of citizenship, which reads: Giuro di essere fedele alla Repubblica e di osservare la Costituzione e le leggi dello stato — “I swear to be faithful to the Republic and observe the Constitution and the laws of the state.”

From the moment you’ve taken the oath you are officially an Italian citizen, and you can apply for your Italian passport the next day.