Italian Citizenship: A Giant Leap

Tutti i Giusvallini, Sept. 23, 1923. The group of Italian immigrants (including my paternal grandparents) who came to the U.S. in the early 1900s from Giusvalla in Italy and settled in northern Delaware. Photo courtesy: Frank Rosaio

Well, I have managed to book an appointment with the Italian Consulate in Houston to present my claim to Italian citizenship. If you follow the way the Italian government handles these things, getting this appointment is itself no small feat. In fact, “word on the street,” so to speak, was that Houston was not even booking citizenship appointments. So I am pretty thrilled about this. I was thinking this was going to be the most difficult step. And now it’s done and confirmed.

The appointment is in late August. At that time, I will bring to the consulate all of the paperwork that documents my Italian lineage. Fortunately, I only have to go back two generations, and everything is pretty straightforward. Some people have a lot of problems with this — three or four generations, unreliable documentation, name changes, lost documents, errors, etc. Mine seems much more uncomplicated.

After I chat with the consular official and give them the paperwork, then I wait. They check the lineage, and they also verify that neither my grandfather nor my father formally renounced their Italian citizenship before their respective sons were born. And when all that checks out — anywhere from a few weeks to a few months — they send me a letter and tell me I am officially recognized as an Italian citizen.

Then there is a bit more paperwork, the most important of which is obtaining an Italian/European Union passport. And then… a whole new world of opportunity opens up.

I am a member of a Facebook group for people who either have, or are pursuing, their dual U.S.-Italian citizenship. Someone in that group recently mentioned that to obtain in some way other than via bloodline the same rights and privileges that this Italian/EU citizenship gives us would cost $1.5 million or more in various European countries. Plus various types of residency requirements and gobs of other red tape. She said that those of us who can claim this by bloodline in Italy “have hit the genetic lottery.”

I believe she is right. This is going to cost me maybe $1,000 when all is said and done. Yet I will gain the ability to travel, live, and work WITHOUT RESTRICTION in any of 28+ countries in the European Union, in addition to the United States.

That’s what I call “having options.”