The Reform on Italian Citizenship by Descent: Here’s What Changes

The right to recognize Italian citizenship by descent is a principle deeply rooted in the history of Italian emigration. Since 1861, the year of Italy’s unification, millions of Italians have left the country in search of new opportunities, settling in various parts of the world, particularly in the United States. Italian citizenship, jure sanguinis (by descent), allows their descendants to maintain a connection with the land of their ancestors. This right enables all descendants of Italian immigrants since 1861 to apply for Italian citizenship based on the principle of recognizing cultural identity passed down through generations and territorial ties to Italy. However, new legislative reform proposals could significantly alter this right.

Features of the New Reform of the Right to Italian Citizenship by Descent

Since 2023, the Italian Parliament has been discussing a reform proposal for recognizing citizenship by descent, focusing on three main aspects:

  1. Being of Italian origin up to the third generation and no further.
  2. Possessing an Italian language diploma at the B1 level.
  3. Residing in Italy for at least one year before applying for citizenship.

The new proposed requirements could have restrictive consequences on the right tocitizenship,p jure sanguinis concerning:

  • Italian origin up to the third generation: This requirement excludes fourth- and fifth-generation descendants, limiting the number of potential applicants.
  • B1 level Italian language diploma: While knowledge of the Italian language is essential for strengthening the cultural bond with Italy, language proficiency has not historically been a requisite for jure sanguinis recognition, making access to citizenship more challenging.
  • Residency in Italy for at least one year: This requirement drastically reduces the possibility of obtaining Italian citizenship.

Consequences of the Reform

The introduction of these new requirements could have several significant consequences:

  • Reduction in the number of applications: The requirement to reside in Italy for a year and have a B1 level of Italian could lead to a decrease in citizenship applications.
  • Exclusion of fourth- and fifth-generation descendants: Those with Italian great-grandparents will be excluded, affecting many potential applicants.
  • Congestion in legal processes: The new law could lead to an increase in court proceedings for citizenship recognition, as court procedures can be quicker than applying through the consulate.

Current Issues in Recognizing Citizenship from an Italian Ancestor: Resorting to the Court for Citizenship Recognition

Slow Consulate Processes One of the main issues for applicants of Italian citizenship jure sanguinis is the significant slowness of consulates in examining citizenship applications by descent. This has led many applicants to resort to the Italian court for citizenship recognition, a much faster process.

Resorting to the Italian Court for Citizenship Recognition by Descent For those who are eligible and face bureaucratic obstacles, filing a petition with the Italian court for citizenship recognition by ancestor could be an effective solution. Italian law guarantees a decision on citizenship requests within two years. Therefore, filing a petition with the court allows bypassing the consulate queue and obtaining citizenship directly from the Italian court.

The advantage of resorting to the court for Italian citizenship by descent is the faster process, as the courts follow a predictable timeline. Furthermore, the court application is submitted through a lawyer specializing in Italian citizenship from any location, and there is no need to travel to Italy or establish residency. Finally, having a lawyer handle the citizenship request through the court ensures the correct presentation of the required documents, coherent responses, and clear results.

Restrictions in the Proposed Jure Sanguinis Citizenship Reform Law

The new proposal for reforming Italian citizenship by descent introduces significant changes that could profoundly affect the descendants of Italian emigrants. While the new requirements aim to strengthen the cultural bond with Italy, they could also reduce the number of eligible applicants and increase judicial process congestion. It is essential for potential applicants to be aware of the new rules and possible alternatives for obtaining Italian citizenship.


The slowness of the consulates and the new restrictions imposed by the reform make resorting to the court a crucial route for many. Staying informed and prepared is essential to successfully navigating these new challenges.

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