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Appeal for Citizenship Recognition by Descent

8 Sep 2023 - Immigration Law - Min Read 4 min
Appeal for Citizenship Recognition by Descent

Individuals residing abroad have the opportunity to file an appeal for the recognition of Italian citizenship by descent (iure sanguinis) with the assistance of legal representation and without the need to personally attend court hearings.

The applicable Italian jurisdiction is determined based on the municipality of birth of the Italian citizen’s father, mother, or grandparent, as stipulated in paragraph 36 of Article 1 of the Civil Procedure Reform Act No. 206 of November 26, 2021, which came into effect on December 24, 2021, and has been implemented since June 22, 2022 (i.e., one hundred and eighty days after the law’s enactment).

The law states: “When the plaintiff resides abroad, disputes concerning the determination of Italian citizenship status shall be assigned considering the municipality of birth of the Italian citizen’s father, mother, or grandparent.”

Previously, jurisdiction was solely under the jurisdiction of the Rome court, resulting in an accumulation of cases and difficulties in processing them promptly.

Italian Citizenship by Descent: Why You Might File a Case with an Italian Court?

One might turn to an Italian court if they find themselves in one of the following situations:

  1. In the event of rejection of a request for the recognition of Italian citizenship “iure sanguinis” made through administrative channels.
  2. In cases where there is a clear and demonstrable failure to adhere to the legally prescribed processing times for requests submitted via administrative channels.
  3. In situations where pursuing an administrative request is not possible, such as when a female ancestor in the lineage was born before 1948.

Addressing Disputes Arising After Initiating an Administrative Process

You may resort to an Italian court if the recognition of citizenship has been unjustifiably denied.

There may be obvious errors in the way the case was handled, procedural irregularities, or legal issues that negatively influenced the outcome. Consulting with a lawyer is essential to evaluate your specific situation and determine whether there are grounds for an appeal.

What to Do if Your Citizenship by Descent Application Is Rejected?

If your application for citizenship by descent is rejected, you should examine the reasons provided by the public administration, which is required to give reasons for the rejection. If the motivation behind the rejection is weak or unjustified, you have the option to file an appeal.

In this case, a lawyer can represent you and defend your right to become an Italian citizen.

Failure to Adhere to Legally Prescribed Processing Times

Once you have obtained all the necessary documents to apply for Italian citizenship by descent through administrative channels, the next step is to schedule an appointment with the relevant Italian Consulate or the Italian municipality of residence to initiate the process.

However, this seemingly straightforward step has its challenges: the timing and procedures for securing an appointment are unpredictable, especially at some Consulates.

The competent Italian representation is obligated to respond and schedule at least one appointment to review the application within two years.

To be eligible to file an appeal with the court in such cases, you can demonstrate, for example, that based on the number of citizenship recognition requests the Consulate processes each calendar year, you would have to wait much longer than two years, or that the Consulate has not even placed your citizenship application on the waiting list.

The unavailability of the Consulate must be incontrovertibly demonstrated.

Temporary unavailability of appointment scheduling on the relevant website is not sufficient proof, but an email from the Consulate announcing multi-year delays or news of the suspension of citizenship recognition services are valid (and demonstrable) reasons to request recognition of your right to be recognized as an Italian citizen.

If response times are unreasonable and do not comply with Article 3 of Presidential Decree 362/1994, which sets a two-year deadline for completing the citizenship procedure, and exceed this timeframe, it is possible to turn to the competent Italian court.

The judge will then ascertain the actual descent based on the documents.

Appeal for Female Lineage Descent Prior to 1948

An appeal to an Italian court becomes necessary to safeguard the right to citizenship for those whose lineage follows the maternal line, i.e., the children of Italian mothers born before January 1948.

The Italian Citizenship Law No. 555 of 1912 stipulated that women, as daughters of Italian fathers, were indeed Italian citizens, but they could not transmit citizenship by descent to their children and descendants.

Moreover, if they married a foreign citizen, they would automatically lose Italian citizenship, regardless of their intention.

This situation changed on January 1, 1948, when the Italian Constitution came into force, recognizing gender equality.

For those born before 1948, their rights can only be asserted through judicial means. This excludes the conventional application for citizenship by descent through the Consulate or the Italian municipality of residence: you cannot attempt the administrative route first; only the judicial route is permissible.

If you are currently undergoing a process for the recognition of Italian citizenship by descent or are considering starting one, please do not hesitate to contact our Immigration Department lawyers. They will provide you with up-to-date and personalized information for your specific case.

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Calogero Boccadutri

Calogero Boccadutri is the Managing Partner of Boccadutri International Law Firm. He has trial experience in Forex, Personal Injury and Administrative litigation.

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