A Look Inside The Jure Sanguinis Italian Citizenship Application Process
Are you interested in having your Italian citizenship recognized? The jure sanguinis Italian citizenship application process can seem a bit overwhelming. It is not as difficult as you might think. All you need is patience and some professional assistance to help guide you through the process. I interviwed Lucia Barbato about her experience at the Houston consulate. She has some great insight and talks about some stumbling blocks along the way. Watch the video below and continue reading to find out more.
What made you decide to have your Italian citizenship recognized?
Hello Laura Lee, Thanks for inviting me. I’m very happy to talk with you about my experience of going through the jure sanguinis Italian citizenship application process.
It naturally seemed like the right thing to do after taking two trips to Italy and meeting and developing relationships with my cousins in Sicily and Campania. I started on the path to Italian Citizenship because I wanted to have a closer connection to my Italian family. In the end, the decision came down to wanting to satisfy a deeper emotional connection to my family in Italy and to connect with my Italian heritage.
How did you determine that you qualified?
The first step in the Italian citizenship application process was getting my last Italian born relatives naturalization paperwork. I am 100% Italian. Both my paternal and maternal grandparents were born in Campania and Sicily. This meant that I had four Italian bloodlines to explore. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any of their vital records. While I knew some facts such as their approximate birth, marriage and death dates, I didn’t have many of their vital records.
So I researched my grandparent’s naturalization records online with the Family Search and Ancestry websites along with the NARA and USCIS to determine when they became US citizens. I hoped that at least one grandparent naturalized as an American citizen after my parents birth. This is a key criterion in determining my eligibility for having my Italian citizenship recognized. If all of my grandparents had become US citizens before my parents were born, then my parents would not have inherited Italian Citizenship, and I would not be eligible to apply for Italian citizenship by descent (jure sanguinis).
I wasn’t able to locate naturalization records for three of my grandparents. But I found that my maternal grandfather petitioned for US citizenship after my mother was born. That meant he was still an Italian citizen when my mother was born, so she inherited Italian citizenship through him. And since I was born after 1948 that made me eligible to pursue Italian citizenship by descent.
How did you get started on your Italian citizenship application?
To get started, I wanted to enlist the consultative help of a professional. Since I worked with you, Digging up Roots in the Boot on two separate occasions. First, for Italian civil and church document research, and then for two ancestry heritage tours, I contacted you again to help me. I let you know I wanted to start the Italian citizenship application process. I retained your consultative services throughout the process. I also decided to use your document translation services.
I wanted to be very involved in the Italian citizenship application process. At first, I thought it was going to be easy, and all I had to do was get a few birth certificates to prove my lineage. When I looked at the list of required documents, there were a lot more documents than I had originally thought. So I started a spreadsheet to keep track of my progress.
Additionally, my son was a minor, and I wanted to include him in my application for Italian citizenship. I thought I had plenty of time to include him in the process. I soon learned that it was going to be a lot more time-consuming and challenging to obtain some of these records. I got to work and crossed my fingers that my application would be ready to submit before he turned 18 in 14 months.
Which consulate did you use, and how did you schedule your appointment?
Since I’m a resident of Texas, the Italian consulate in my jurisdiction is in Houston. Thankfully, you advised me to set up an appointment as soon as possible using prenota online. That was good advice. I soon learned that setting up an Italian citizenship appointment was not automatic. Before I could schedule the appointment I had to go to the Consulate website, register, and log in.
As I recall, the system displayed a calendar with no available appointments and they were booked four months in advance. So over several months, I had to log into the prenota website at different times of day looking for an available appointment. Generally speaking, Italian citizenship application appointments become available at midnight Italy time. By suggestion, I logged in 5 minutes before 5 pm Texas time, which was just before midnight in Italy when the system releases new appointments.
I began looking for an appointment in August, but it wasn’t until mid-December that I was able to get one. It took about 5 months of regularly checking the site before I was able to grab the first available Italian citizenship application appointment.
That appointment date was April 12th. I had to be very careful when recording the appointment since the Consulate website uses a European date format. The April 12 appointment date, was written 12/4 on the website. I had to read the date carefully to make sure that I booked my flight and travel reservations for April and not December.
Tell us about the Italian citizenship application forms.
The application I used was titled “Application for Italian Citizenship – Jure Sanguinis”, which means blood right or by descent. On the Houston consulate website, there are four downloadable application forms plus an AIRE registration form.
Form One required information about my Italian bloodline starting with my last Italian-born ancestor down to me the applicant and my minor son. It includes information such as names, cities, and dates of birth, marriage, death, and naturalization.
Form Two is a list of all the places and dates where I have lived since I was 18.
Form Three is a declaration of my living ascendant.
Form Four is a declaration of my deceased Italian ascendant.
It is important NOT to sign these forms ahead of time since they must be signed in front of the consular officer during the appointment.
The last form was an AIRE Registration Form. That form is used to register you in your Italian comune as an Italian living abroad. The registration form is in Italian, and I needed assistance filling it out. I was grateful for your assistance in helping me correctly complete that form.
What documents did you need to present?
After presenting the application forms, my ID, and my appointment payment, I needed to present more than a dozen vital records proving my Italian lineage which is through my maternal grandfather, my mother, myself, and my minor son.
First, I handed in my grandfather’s naturalization certificate that was obtained from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) with the original letter I received from the USCIS and envelope.
Next, I presented my grandfather’s official birth record from Sicily or estratto dell’atto di nascita. Since he was married to my grandmother, I also showed her certified Italian birth record from Sicily. Then I was asked for my grandparent’s marriage certificate.
This was followed by presenting my parent’s birth certificates, and my parents’ marriage certificate.
Last but not least, I showed records of my birth, first marriage, divorce, second marriage, my husband’s birth, and my son’s birth.
I also had an additional document called a Certificato di nascita negativo or certificate of negative birth from my grandfather’s home town. You advised me to have this record on hand since there was a discrepancy between my grandfather’s birthdate on his Petition for Citizenship and his death record. This document would prove that no one with my grandfather’s name was born on the incorrect date.
Where did you make requests for the documents you presented with your Italian citizenship application?
I needed documents from two Sicilian municipalities, state vital records departments from over a dozen agencies in seven different states, and immigration records from the National Archives and the USCIS.
For the Sicilian documents, I needed a certified Estratto di Nascita for both my grandfather and my grandmother from the city hall of their birth towns. Obtaining these records from Sicily was a bit tricky. You guided me on how to obtain them. Fortunately, my new-found cousin in Sicily personally picked the records up and sent them to me by mail, which saved a lot of time.
For the US vital records, it is important to obtain the certified, long-form documents. The birth or marriage certificates you have may not the correct forms required for Italian citizenship. Also, you may not want to give your original documents to the Italian consulate.
The consulate keeps all the documents that you submit with your Italian citizenship application. They do not return any documents to you except original certificates of naturalization. When you order the documents, you must provide proof of your relationship with the record request application.
Most applications can be downloaded from the vital records department website. Then you can fill them out, and send the applications by mail. More often than not, I had to include a self-addressed stamped envelope and a payment.
The order of obtaining the documents was important. For example, I first needed my long-form birth certificate from the Secretary of the Commonwealth Office in Virginia. Once I had that record, then I could order my mother’s long-form birth record followed by my parents’ marriage record.
I needed to have both my certified birth certificate and my mother’s birth certificate to request my grandparent’s marriage record as well as my grandfather’s certified death record.
Having a spreadsheet to keep track of my progress and the requirements made the process much easier.
My mother was born in New York so I ordered her birth record from the NY Department of State. Once I received her birth record, I could order my maternal grandparents’ marriage certificate also from NY. My parents were married in New Jersey so that document was ordered from the NJ Division of Revenue in Trenton.
While I was waiting for those records, I ordered my maternal grandfather’s immigration record from the USCIS. That record took months to process, and I had some issues with that order, so I wish I had requested that document earlier.
I ordered my mother’s death certificate from the Florida Department of State, and I ordered my grandfather’s certified death certificate from the State of New Jersey.
Then I needed to obtain my certified abstract of marriage from the county in Las Vegas, Nevada. I didn’t realize it at the time, but instead of ordering the certified abstract, I got a certified license. They aren’t the same thing. Fortunately, you caught my error and I was able to order the correct document before my appointment.
The easiest record to obtain was my son’s long-form birth certificate. All I had to do was drive to the local city office in Texas and make the request. All the rest required more effort.
After speaking with you, I learned I also needed to get the divorce record from my first marriage even though it had nothing to do with my son’s bloodline. Since the document was over 30 years old, I had no idea where to order it. So I had to make several inquiries.
After many calls and waiting on hold for long periods, I finally found my divorce record in the archive for the Superior County Court of Los Angeles. I ordered it two months before my consulate appointment. On top of that, I needed to order my first marriage certificate from NJ Vital Records. Fortunately, I was able to order that record online.
Did you have to amend any of your documents before your appointment?
Oh yes, when I first started this process, I didn’t even know that the documents would need to be amended. I thought they would all be correct, to begin with. I was very wrong.
Each correction required its own a separate correction application form. And then the corrected documents had to be apostilled and translated.
The first correction I needed was my first marriage certificate. My birthday was incorrect. So I had to locate and fill out an amendment form, and send it with the original incorrect document, plus return envelope and of course, fees.
The second correction was to amend my Mother’s death certificate. The long-form certificate included her father’s American name Russell and not his Italian name Orazio found on his immigration and birth records. To correct my mother’s death certificate I had to submit an amendment application to the Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics to the attention of the Corrections Unit so it would show her father’s Italian birth name to match his birth record.
For a third correction, you found a misspelling of my grandfather’s first name on my parent’s marriage record. It should have been spelled Orazio (with a ‘z’) but it was incorrectly entered as Oracio with a ‘c’. You suggested that I email the Houston consulate. They replied that it wouldn’t be a problem. But I got it corrected just in case.
I also found inconsistencies with the spelling of my grandfather’s last name in the immigration document. It was changed during his naturalization process when two letters in his last name were reversed. But, naturalization records cannot be amended. Fortunately, the original declaration of intent showed his name spelled the original way, and his petition for citizenship showed where his name was changed.
Of greater concern, were huge discrepancies between my grandfather’s date of birth on his certified birth record, his immigration records, and his death certificate. His birth record showed 10 Feb 1907, but his immigration records had a birth date of 6 Feb 1902. But again, NARA can’t correct the naturalization records. On top of that, his death certificate had a completely different month, day, and year of 23 May 1905. I was told that these types of issues aren’t uncommon. But it was a big concern to me.
Additionally, you pointed out that my grandfather’s death certificate listed his American first name, Russell instead of his given Italian name, Orazio. So, I contacted the NJ Department of Vital Statistics to request corrections to both his birth date and first name. Even after submitting exhaustive documentation, many phone calls, and an appeal, my request was denied. Instead, they advised me to obtain a ‘One and the Same’ person court order.
I didn’t have enough time to pursue a court order and deal with lawyers and trips to NJ. I was very concerned that my application for Italian citizenship might be denied due to these discrepancies. I was considering giving up my appointment at the Italian consulate in Houston.
Fortunately, I received some good advice from you to keep the appointment. You said that the consulate might allow me to submit some documents at a later time since most of my paperwork was in order, and you were right.
At that point, I was finished as much as possible with my documents and corrections, and I continued to prepare for my consulate appointment.
Which documents did you have to translate to present with your Italian citizenship application appointment?
Let me start with what doesn’t need to be translated. I didn’t need to translate records that were already in Italian. These included my grandfather’s and grandmother’s birth records from Italy. I also didn’t need to translate my grandfather’s naturalization records. And since I was applying for Italian citizenship through my mother, I did not need to translate my father’s birth record. I also didn’t need to translate my husband’s birth certificate.
I was required to translate all other vital records in my direct bloodline from English to Italian. Initially, I needed eight documents translated, which included my grandparents’ marriage certificate, my mother’s birth certificate, my parents’ marriage certificate, my birth, previous marriage, and divorce decree, current marriage certificate, and my son’s birth record.
When I had the majority of the documents ready, I sent them to you for translation about two months before my appointment. The Consulate website has a link to a list of translators, but you aren’t required to use them.
Also, the corrected documents had to be translated. Thank goodness you caught several errors which allowed me to get those corrections before my appointment.
After my appointment at the consulate, I needed four more documents translated. Due to my son’s fast-approaching 18th birthday, we agreed it would be faster to use one of the local translators on the consulate list for the last few translations. But I had a disappointing experience with the local translator.
After my consulate appointment experience, I knew the administrator was very meticulous when reviewing my application. So when I received the last few translations from the local translator, I decided to check them before sending them to the consulate. I was disappointed to find a misspelling and several omissions on my birth certificate.
Then, on my first marriage certificate, there were three translation errors and three places that were marked [illegible] that should have been translated. Plus there was one entire section that was not translated.
Additionally, I found four more translation errors on the remaining two documents. Then after I received the corrected translation, I double checked everything and found that the translator failed to fix one of my previously requested corrections. I didn’t have any of those issues with your far superior translations. I was grateful for all of the advice that came with the translations such as making sure I got the correct documents and what to expect.
Which documents needed apostilles?
First of all, it is important to understand that an apostille is like an international notary that authenticates your original record. Apostilles are recognized internationally and they prove to the Italian consulate that your documents are valid.
The only records that did not require an apostille were my grandfather’s and grandmother’s official birth records from Italy, the naturalization records. Also, my non-bloodline records, my father’s, and husband’s birth records did not require apostilles. I needed apostilles for all other documents that were used to prove my Italian lineage.
I would like to mention, that before you can apply for an apostille for records from NYC, a ‘letter of exemplification’ is required. That is another step required where you need to send your NYC vital record to yet another city department for certification. Once your original document and letter of exemplification are returned to you, then you can send for the apostille to the Secretary of State.
The final document you receive has an apostille attached to your original document, and that is what I presented the consulate in Houston during my Italian citizenship appointment. You must NOT separate the certified document from the apostille. If you do, it will be invalid.
Were there any additional forms that you were required to complete?
Yes, there were! After months of research and preparation, I thought I had everything I needed for the appointment, but I was mistaken.
During my consulate appointment, the administrative officer informed me that I needed a certified birth certificate for my husband. I was also given a Declaration of Divorce Form in Italian that I was told to fill out, sign, and return by mail.
Additionally, I needed to get a special Record of No Appeal for my divorce which also required a translation and an apostille. Fortunately, I was able to order that record after my appointment and mail it in.
When I received the Certificate of No Appeal, one of the names was misspelled, and I had to send for yet another correction before I could have it translated and request the apostille.
Walk us through your appointment day.
It was quite an experience! You need to bring a sense of humor to the appointment.
I checked in at the Consulate and didn’t have to wait too long before I was called to another window. The administrative officer got right down to business. She asked if I was applying for Italian citizenship. I said yes, and right away I was asked for the payment in the form of a money order.
The application fee is posted in Euros on the website, so you need to make sure to convert it into US dollars at the current exchange rate. A week before my appointment I re-checked the website for the application fee and found it had increased by $16. I already had a money order made out, so I emailed the consulate for their advice. Fortunately, I could bring the balance in cash or with a second money order.
Then, I had to show my current passport and driver’s license. Next, I was asked for the application forms. I was applying for Italian citizenship through my maternal grandfather. So the administrator asked for my grandfather’s Italian birth record, followed by my grandmother’s birth record. Then she asked for my grandparent’s marriage certificate.
The administrator looked through the records in detail and made note of every word, name, and date. Then she asked for my grandfather’s immigration documents. I had hoped that all of my documents would be perfect. But she wasn’t happy that the typing on the document was almost illegible.
Then she asked for the USCIS copy of my grandfather’s Certificate of Citizenship. She pointed out the discrepancy between the marriage dates on the Petition for Citizenship and their marriage certificate (that I didn’t catch). But fortunately, she accepted it. I was glad I didn’t have to make yet another correction.
Then she asked for my grandfather’s death certificate. I nervously took out the forms that I knew had name and date discrepancies. Right away she noticed the name ‘Russell’ instead of “Orazio” and she asked, “what is this Russell?” Then she saw 23 May 1905 for his birthday and said: “what is this birthday?” I tried to give her some other documents to show where the dates came from, but she didn’t take them. All she said was the ‘death certificate completes the life of my grandfather, but it isn’t required for the application’. So, I did all that worrying for nothing.
She put all the documents I gave her so far in a pile. Then she asked for my father’s birth certificate. Fortunately, I had it with me and passed it to her, but I didn’t have it translated nor apostilled. Then, she realized I was applying through my mother, so asked me for my mother’s birth certificate with the translation and apostille. I passed my mother’s documents to her.
Then she asked for an application form 4 for my mother. But I didn’t have one filled out! I only filled out one for my grandfather. She explained the citizenship passed from my grandfather, then through my mother, and if I wanted to obtain citizenship that I needed a form 4 for her as well. Fortunately, she said that wouldn’t be difficult to take care of.
Then she asked for my parents’ marriage documents. Everything was fine with those. Then she asked for my birth certificate. That is where I got surprised.
The administrative officer identified the translation of my birth certificate didn’t match the birth certificate I submitted with the apostille. We had a little conversation about it, and agreed that the document must be correct. I had to order the correct document and have it translated.
It was my mistake. The State of Virginia has two different applications. The first allows you to request the long-form birth certificate and apostille together in one step. The other form is for the birth certificate without an apostille. So I ordered one of each. When I got the birth certificate without the apostille, I sent it to you for translating.
Even though it was a long-form birth certificate, it wasn’t the certified extract long form that I needed. This error was due to my inexperience. So after the appointment, I had to reorder my birth certificate with apostille again and get it translated.
Then she asked for my marriage documents. I gave her my current marriage license with the apostille and the translation. Then she asked me for the marriage certificate. I was flustered and told her I didn’t think I needed it. She explained that the license was only a document that granted permission by the state of Nevada for us to be married, but it didn’t show the actual marriage date which was on the certificate. I had previously obtained the marriage certificate and had it apostilled, but I left it at home because I didn’t think it was needed. Again it was another error due to my inexperience.
Then, she asked for my husband’s birth certificate in long-form. I guess she wanted to make sure he was the father of my son. At that point, I just sighed because I didn’t bring that record with me either.
I said something along the lines of ‘I feel so stupid because I was preparing for this meeting for over a year and now I didn’t have all of the correct information’. She made a kind remark like ‘it’s ok, you are now on Italian soil and it is a different world’ and she also mentioned the Italian bureaucracy.
I said I would be glad to come back if needed. She replied that I might not have to return and that she might be able to work out something. As you told me, “Lucia, you know by now that it is the Italian way to say no first, and point out the negative, and then ‘work something out!’ “
I highly recommend bringing all the documents that you have to your Italian citizenship application appointment. It is better to have more documents than you need than to be missing some on your appointment day.
Then she asked me for two additional documents which I did not know I needed. She wasn’t surprised that I didn’t have them. These documents were some bureaucratic details the Italian consulate needed regarding the divorce.
The first document was a ‘Form to request the registration of the Divorce Decree’ with the city of Leonforte. Fortunately, this form was in both Italian and English and the administrator gave me a few tips on how to fill it out. The second form was in Italian and is titled ‘Dichiarazione Sostitutiva dell’atto di notorieta’. She gave me some help filling out this one out as well.
Next, she said I also needed to obtain a “Certificate of No Appeal” for the divorce. The Italian Government wants absolute, positive proof that you are not married to two people at the same time. The administrative officer half-apologetically told me I needed this document even though most states do not provide it. She said any written statement from the court or the Los Angeles Archives would work. Then she made some remarks about the Italian bureaucracy.
Finally, she noticed that I included my son’s name on my application. She asked for his birth certificate which I gave her with apostille and translation. Thank goodness those documents were fine. I held my breath waiting to hear what she had to say about my application.
Her final remarks were “the most important papers were about my grandfather and my mother through whom I was applying for citizenship”. Then she said my application required additional documents to complete my file.
At first, my heart sunk, but she said, I had enough documentation to open a case. She would put my application on hold until I could mail her the other required documents. I was so relieved that she accepted the most important documents, and I only needed to order a few more. That would save me another trip to Houston.
Then she typed up a letter with a file number and list of documents that I needed to mail to her all at once. We both signed the letter and she gave me a copy. She would keep the other documents for about four months until my son turned 18.
I told her I understood, and that if I didn’t have everything to send her before my son turns 18 that I would leave out his birth certificate documents and he wouldn’t be eligible for Italian citizenship with my application. The clock was ticking again!
That concluded the hour and a half appointment. I left the consulate, got an Uber and went to the nearest gelato place.
When I got home I spent the day putting together the remaining documents, making calls, and priority mailing out requests for documents and corrections with priority mail return envelopes. Fortunately, it didn’t take that much work.
Regarding one of the documents I received, a name was incorrectly spelled. So I had to quickly fill out yet another correction application, with priority return envelopes and fees to have that corrected, then apostilled, and translated.
I hope this info about my experience at the Italian consulate in Houston will help the next person who wants to go through the process! I chalked my Italian citizenship application appointment up to an outstanding experience with Italian bureaucracy!! I was so happy to have made it that far and couldn’t have done it without your help, Laura Lee!
How long did it take to receive a response from the Houston consulate about the acceptance after you submitted you additional documentation?
After the incredible appointment experience, I mailed the final corrected and translated documents to the consulate just shy of a year from when I started. That gave me only two months to spare before my son’s 18th birthday.
It took the Houston consulate 4 months to notify me of my Italian citizenship. I received an anticlimactic email that simply stated:
“This is to inform you that your application for Italian Citizenship has been recognized and processed. You and your son are now registered as Italian citizens with this Consulate General.”
How much time and money did you invest in the Italian citizenship application process?
I decided to pursue Italian Citizenship one week after returning from my trip to Sicily and Campania where you and I met to do family heritage research in 2017. I began the process on June 30, 2017, when I ordered my first document. And I submitted the final documents on June 7, 2018. I received notification of both my and my son’s Italian citizenship on October 18, 2018.
So, from start to finish, the entire process took about one year plus a 4-month processing period.
The total cost for 24 different documents including corrections, 12 apostilles, postage, translations, and the $368.70 application fee (which is 300 Euros) was about $2,300 plus travel costs to Houston that required hotel, airfare, Uber, and meals. That didn’t include the time I spent on the project.
Keep in mind, the cost can vary depending on the number of documents, and if you require expedited service. I also wound up with several duplicate documents which added to the costs. Again that was due to my inexperience, but also my desire to have records available so I could quickly order other ones.
What would you have done differently knowing what you know now?
If I could go back in time when my parents were still alive, I would have done everything possible to obtain copies of documents such as their birth certificates, and marriage certificates, and possibly my grandparent’s records. Sometimes situations occur after the death of your parents that preclude access to those documents whether they are lost, destroyed or otherwise not available.
While they might not be the official long-form documents required for the citizenship application, the names, dates, and locations on those record would have helped significantly in the record search and document corrections. For anyone interested in family heritage and Italian citizenship, I strongly recommend trying to get your hands on those documents.
Also, over a year it was easily a part-time job working on my Italian citizenship. While I enjoy doing family heritage research, if I didn’t have the free time, I definitely would have had a professional handle the process of ordering the records.
It took a lot of time, research, cost, and effort to track down document locations and dates. Also, it was incredibly time-consuming to identify the proper agencies and fill out the paperwork to obtain those documents. If I had a professional involved earlier to help me with document procurement, it might have cost a bit more, but would have saved a lot of time and stress.
Additionally, a professional might have found that I was eligible to pursue Italian citizenship through a different grandparent, whose records might not have been as complicated and time-consuming as the grandparent I used. For example, I chose my maternal grandparent through whom to claim Italian citizenship only because I was able to locate his immigration information. His records had different names and several different birth dates which greatly complicated the process and took a lot more time.
What did you learn going through the process?
I learned there are a lot of moving parts, and not to expect perfection.
One thing I wouldn’t change is working with you, Digging up Roots in the Boot. I can’t thank you enough for the excellent translations, astute observations of document corrections I needed, and all of the insightful advice, dozens of emails, and support along the way.
Ending on a happy Italian note, I received a postcard in the mail from the commune di Leonforte recently for the European parliament elections. Unfortunately, the card arrived on the day of the election. My son got his election postcard a week after I received mine. So Italian!