SHARE
COPY LINK

ITALIAN CITIZENSHIP

Investigation launched into suspected ‘fixed’ Italian language exam for Suarez

After his "fast-tracked" Italian citizenship process sparked outrage this week, footballer Luis Suarez is now suspected of cheating on the Italian language exam.

Investigation launched into suspected 'fixed' Italian language exam for Suarez
Luis Suarez has applied for Italian citizenship but is accused of receiving preferential treatment and being helped to cheat on the language test. File photo: AFP

Barcelona forward Luis Suarez is suspected of cheating to pass his Italian language test with the help of his teachers, the Perugia prosecutor's department said on Tuesday.

Perugia's University for Foreigners was raided by police on Tuesday but denies any wrongdoing, according to Italian media reports

The Italian exam was a first step required in order to receive italian citizenship ahead of a possible transfer to Juventus, a move which has seen been abandoned.
 
Suarez flew to the city of Perugia by private jet on Thursday to take the exam at the city's .
 
 
 
“The investigation showed that the subjects discussed during the exam were agreed beforehand with the candidate and that the grade was awarded to him
even before the test,” the prosecutor's department said in a statement.
 
Local prosecutor Raffaele Cantone, a former head of Italy's National Anti-Corruption Authority, had been carrying out an investigation since February into University for Foreigners officials over various irregularities.
 
Suspicions over Suarez were aroused by an overheard conversation.
 
“But what do you think, that we're going to fail him? Today I have the last lesson (with Suarez) and I have to prepare it because he barely speaks a word”
of Italian, Stefania Spina, one of the people targeted by the investigation, is claimed to have said according to prosecution documents cited by Italian
media.
 
Asked by a colleague what level Suarez “should pass” in Italian, Spina reportedly replied: “He should not, he must, he will pass, because with a
salary of 10 million (euros) per season, you can't make him fail” his exam, “even if he doesn't know how to conjugate verbs and speak in the infinitive.”
 
Luis Suarez. File photo: AFP
 
Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo said last week a proposed deal for Suarez was unlikely to go ahead because of delays in the Uruguayan's bid to get an Italian passport.
 
The Italian champions cannot recruit Suarez otherwise because they have already reached their quota for non-EU players.
 
Suarez is married to an Italian citizen and therefore eligible to apply.
 
Though he had to take the B1 language exam like everyone else, there have been complaints that not only were his exam results reportedly expediated, but so was the rest of the citizenship application process, according to Italian media reports.
 
It usually takes between one and three months for those taking the B1 language exam to get their results back, though Suarez reportedly obtained his within hours.
 
 
 
And many reports suggest the footballer could have his citizenship approved within just 15 days.
 
Most people applying for Italian citizenship through marriage have to wait two to four years for their application to be processed – a timeframe lengthened by a law change by former interior minister Matteo Salvini in 2018, as part of a raft of measures making the process more difficult.
 

Suarez flew to the city of Perugia by private jet on Thursday to take an Italian language exam at the city's University for Foreigners, as he sought to gain Italian citizenship.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

ITALIAN CITIZENSHIP

Reader question: Will my children get an Italian passport if born in Italy?

Obtaining Italian citizenship is not a simple matter even if you are born here, as there are many obstacles to overcome. This is what you should know about the complex process of naturalisation.

Reader question: Will my children get an Italian passport if born in Italy?

It is natural that people who are settled in Italy would want their children to have Italian citizenship.

Unlike many other countries, however, merely being born in Italy doesn’t mean the person is Italian.

If their parents were born abroad and still hold foreign passports, children will not obtain Italian citizenship at birth. 

This may sound unfair to someone coming from, say, the United States, but Italy doesn’t (in the vast majority of cases) recognise so-called “birthright citizenship” (jus soli) which would automatically grant an Italian passport to anyone born here.

Even kids who have lived here their entire lives and consider themselves to be Italian will have the same nationality as their parents and will continue to be considered foreigners by the Italian state – until and unless they become naturalised.

Some Italian politicians and political parties, particularly from the Democratic Party, are pushing for a relaxation of the rules, however at present they remain in place. 

Who is entitled to an Italian passport at birth?

Children born to Italian-citizen parents, or at least one parent who is Italian, will be automatically considered citizens of Italy by a process known as “acquisition by descent”, or jus sanguinis.

READ ALSO: How British nationals can claim Italian citizenship by descent

This applies as much to children born abroad as it does to those born in Italy.

A foreign child adopted by Italian parent(s) is subject to the same rules.

What happens if both parents are foreign nationals?

There are several scenarios to consider if you would like your child (or future child) to be Italian.

If you don’t have children yet but have a permit that allows you to permanently reside in Italy, you could apply for naturalisation after living in the country for a set number of years.

For most foreigners, ten years is the minimum length of time they will need to have lived in Italy before they become eligible to apply for citizenship through naturalisation. That period is reduced to four years for EU nationals, and five years for refugees.

READ ALSO: What’s the difference between Italian residency and citizenship?

If you become naturalised before the child is born (even if you still retain the citizenship of your former country), then he or she will be automatically Italian at birth.

If the child was born before the parent naturalised, they still automatically become an Italian citizen at the same time as the parent does – provided they are under the age of 18 and living with the naturalised parent.

“It is irrelevant that the birth occurred before or after the submission of the application for citizenship,” Giuditta De Ricco, head citizenship lawyer at the immigration firm Mazzeschi, told The Local.

Those children whose parents become Italian citizens after they turn 18, however, will need to file their own citizenship application.

For children born in Italy to foreign parents, the requirements are strict: they must reside in Italy ‘without interruption’ until the age of 18 and submit a statement of their intent to apply for citizenship within one year of their eighteenth birthday.

However, children who were born in Italy, moved away, and moved back as adults can apply for citizenship after just three continuous years of legal residency in the country – so being born on Italian soil does have some advantages when it comes to acquiring citizenship.

The Italian Air Force aerobatic unit performs on April 25, 2020, Italy's 75th Liberation Day, over the Altare della Patria monument in Rome.

The Italian Air Force aerobatic unit performs on April 25, 2020, Italy’s 75th Liberation Day, over the Altare della Patria monument in Rome. Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP

What happens if the parents are of different nationalities?

If the child’s parents are of different nationalities that are treated differently by the Italian state (if, for example, one parent is French and the other American), the child will be subject to the least stringent applicable naturalisation requirements. 

This means that if a child has one French and one American parent, they will be subject to French (EU) rules and eligibility periods when applying for naturalisation as an Italian citizen.

READ ALSO: Reader question: Can I have residency in Italy and another country?

A French parent can apply for Italian citizenship on their own behalf after four years of residency in Italy, and “minor children will be automatically Italian, once the parent takes the oath,” confirms De Ricco.

Usually all that’s required is that the parent produces the children’s birth certificates, although in some cases children will also be asked to attend the oath-taking ceremony with their parent.

Bear in mind that it’s important to consider whether the child’s country/ies of origin allow for dual or triple citizenship, and if not, whether you would be willing to renounce your child’s citizenship of another country in order for them to obtain Italian citizenship.

What if I moved to Italy when my children were already born?

If two non-citizens move to Italy when their children were already born, naturalisation is the means through which they may be able to gain citizenship. 

In recent years some Italian parliamentarians have proposed a ius culturae basis for citizenship – that is, acquiring citizenship via cultural assimilation, on the understanding that children quickly adapt to the culture of their country of residence.

A bill put forward by Democratic Party MP Laura Boldrini would allow children under the age of ten who have lived in Italy for at least five years and completed one school year to apply for citizenship, as well as those who arrived in Italy under the age of ten and have lived continuously in Italy up to the age of 18 (and submit their statement of intent before they turn 19). 

This bill has yet to pass in Italy, however, so there are currently no such fast-tracks in place for foreign minors born outside of the country.

What about citizenship for the third generation?

Italy is particularly lenient when it comes to awarding citizenship to foreign citizens with Italian ancestry.

Anyone who can prove they had an Italian ancestor who was alive in 1861, when Italy became a nation, or since then, can become an Italian citizen via jus sanguinis (provided the ancestor in question did not renounce their citizenship).

And this leniency also extends to those who prefer to become citizens through naturalisation – if you had an Italian parent or grandparent, you just need three years of legal residency in the country to acquire citizenship in this way.

SHOW COMMENTS