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Italian citizenship For Members

Will Italy’s citizenship via ancestry rules change in 2024?

Clare Speak
Clare Speak - [email protected]
Will Italy’s citizenship via ancestry rules change in 2024?
Palazzo Madama, the seat of the Italian Senate. A proposed law aims to tighten the rules on obtaining citizenship via ancestry. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP)

Following a proposal to tighten the rules for applying for Italian citizenship via ancestry, we look at what stage the plans are at and how soon changes could come in.

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Question: "I read that Italy is planning to make it harder to obtain citizenship through ancestry with a bill proposed in June 2023. Do you know the status of this bill and whether the law is likely to change this year?"

As we reported on The Local last year, a proposed amendment to Italy’s 1992 citizenship law seeks to tighten the rules on obtaining citizenship via the ancestry route by introducing a language test and generational limit.

READ ALSO: An expert guide to getting Italian citizenship via ancestry

The bill containing the amendment was put forward last June by Senator Roberto Menia, a member of the ruling Brothers of Italy party, who argued that limits were needed as a lucrative trade has sprung up abroad around helping people to "buy" Italian citizenship via ancestry in order to more easily enter the US or other European countries.

“Too often we learn of citizenships granted to people born abroad who are unable to speak a single word of Italian, who have not spoken Italian for generations, and who have ephemeral - if any - ties with Italy,” he wrote.

He added that this "race for Italian citizenship" had caused long delays in the processing of applications in many countries, particularly at Italian consulates in South America, where Menia said "ten-year waiting lists have been formed".

What does the bill say?

Under the proposal, applicants would need to prove that they can speak Italian to the level B1 or above on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL). This is already a requirement when applying for Italian citizenship via other routes.

The bill (which you can read in its entirety here, in Italian) would also mean applicants could only go back three generations in search of an Italian ancestor through whom to claim their birthright citizenship. There is currently no generational limit in place.

READ ALSO: How foreigners can get 'fast track' citizenship in Italy

Descendants of Italian citizens “beyond the third degree” would need to first be resident in Italy for at least a year, and then file their request at their local comune (town hall) as well as passing the language test, the draft says.

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What stage is the bill at?

After being proposed in June, the draft bill became one of a large number making their way slowly through the Italian parliamentary system - and it does not appear to have since made any progress, with no updates on its status at the time of writing.

This bill looks unlikely to be fast-tracked, as limiting applications for citizenship via ancestry is not a priority issue for Italy's current government.

READ ALSO: REVEALED: How much it really costs to get Italian citizenship via ancestry

To become law, the bill would need to be approved by the government cabinet and then voted on by both houses of parliament. It would then need to be enacted into law. At any stage of that process, it could undergo major modifications or simply be abandoned.

And this is not the first time an Italian lawmaker has suggested introducing a generational limit for applicants, with previous proposed changes to Italy’s citizenship laws going nowhere.

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The Local will continue to report on any changes to the law around citizenship applications. See the latest news in our Italian citizenship section.

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Comments (2)

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Luigi 2024/01/30 07:56
Italy aims to tighten citizenship laws yet admits tens of thousands of ILLEGAL immigrants. Who lack any connection with Italians or Italy - culture, food, religion, or values. During our Questura visits in Genova, the line was exclusively Asians, Africans, Hispanics & Middle Easterners, not one Caucasian. Senator Roberto Menia believes these individuals serve Italy's future, not those with Italian heritage who are eager to contribute economically and culturally. Europe's future seems grim.
Jim 2024/01/29 21:07
I also understand that citizenship by jus sanguinis would be ineligible were a person born to an Italian citizen in a country that grants citizenship through jus soli. For example, my spouse was born in the US when her father was still an Italian citizen and would be ineligible. Anyone else seeing that?

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