Il Percorso Verso la Cittadinanza

IN BOCA AL LUPO

Ciao a tutti!

It is hard to define exactly how overly-complicated this process is for some people, and how breezy it is for others. For me, though, the process of applying for dual citizenship with Italy has been arduous, discouraging, endless, and wonderful all at the same time. You must be thinking, “arduous and...wonderful?” Yes. I want to take you on this journey with me, if you’re ready, and hopefully help some of you along the way. First, I would like to provide  you with a concrete list of literally anything and everything you will need; along with what can go wrong, and what you can do about it. This was something that I wished so badly that someone had spelled out for me. I spent hours sifting through blog posts and articles about how to survive this process and how to know you’re doing everything right. “It says it very clearly on the embassy’s website,” is an answer I would frequently encounter. Although it does state very clearly the basic requirements of application, it does not at all emphasize the roadblocks and challenges that are accompanied with acquiring the documents. If you find it easier and have the means to hire a lawyer, DO IT. If you want to save money and pat yourself on the back afterwards, I’ll show you how to do it, while hopefully relieving any sort of confusions you may have. I will also attach my expenses so you can understand what to expect to dish out. So, here is the list in its most raw form.

Check if you’re eligible for dual citizenship.

    You are only eligible if the descendent of your Italian ancestor was born before the Italian ancestor naturalized. Before 1992, any person who naturalized in America was forced to renounce their former country’s citizenship. When you read the requirements for citizenship on the Italian Consulate website, it stresses that your ancestor has never renounced their Italian citizenship. You may immediately think, “No, of course not. That must mean I’m eligible.”, but it unfortunately doesn’t. For example, my great grandfather immigrated to America in 1912, but did not naturalize as an American citizen until 1927. His son, my grandfather, was born in 1919, which means that my grandfather automatically obtained the right to Italian citizenship and he never renounced it.


Gather Your Documents

Start this process immediately.

I will explain below how to acquire each document.

Folder 1

Maternal Great Grandfather

  • Italian Birth Certificate

    -no translation or apostille necessary

  • Naturalization

    -no translation/apostille necessary

    -Make sure it’s legible!! Thank goodness I got an additional copy from Poughkeepsie because the one that USCIS sent was illegible.

  • Marriage certificate (if divorced, you will need that certified, translated, and apostilled as well)

    -translation

    -apostille (county clerk certified BEFORE going to apostille)

  • Death Certificate

    -translation

    -apostille (county clerk certified BEFORE going to apostille)

Folder 2

Great Grandmother

  • Birth certificate

    -does not require translation/apostile

    -They did not request apostille for documents that were not the direct Italian line, but if you have the time it’s better to be safe than sorry. If she was also born in Italy it’s not necessary either way.

    -They will ask for this document right after the marriage certificate so organize how you would like.

Folder 3

Grand Father

  • Birth Certificate

    -translation

    -apostille (county clerk certified BEFORE going to apostille)

  • Marriage certificate (if divorced, you will need that certified, translated, and apostilled as well)

    -translation

    -apostille (county clerk certified BEFORE going to apostille)

  • Death Certificate (if applicable)

    -translation

    -apostille (county clerk certified BEFORE going to apostille)

Folder 4

Grand Mother

  • Birth certificate

-They did not request apostille for documents that were not the direct line, but if you have the time it’s better to be safe than sorry

-They will ask for this right after the marriage certificate so organize how you would like

Folder 5

Mother

  • Birth Certificate

    -translation

    -apostille (county clerk certified BEFORE going to apostille)

  • Marriage certificate (if divorced, you will need that certified, translated, and apostilled as well)

    -translation

    -apostille (county clerk certified BEFORE going to apostille)

  • Death Certificate (if applicable)

    -translation

    -apostille (county clerk certified BEFORE going to apostille)

Folder 6

Father

  • Birth certificate

-They did not request apostille for documents that were not the direct line, but if you have the time it’s better to be safe than sorry

-They will ask for this right after the marriage certificate so organize how you would like.

Folder 7

You

  • Birth Certificate

    -translation

    -apostille (county clerk certified BEFORE going to apostille)

  • Marriage, or divorce certificate (translated, county clerk certified BEFORE going to apostille) If applicable

Folder 8

  • Money Order or Cash for the equivalent of 300 Euros during the time of your interview (this will be the first thing they ask for)

  • Forms 1, 2, 3, and 4

  • Passport

  • Driver’s Licence

  • Copy of your passport

  • Copy of your driver’s license

  • 2 utility bills with your name and address

Collecting the Documents

    I initially started this process through my paternal great grandfather. It was inexplicably difficult to find records because unfortunately all of my ancestors passed away very young. I decided to seek guidance from www.italiandualcitizenship.com, and for a price I am grateful to have paid, I received assistance from start to finish through my application. If I had not done this, I would have never realized that I am not eligible through my father’s side. I was heartbroken. It felt like all of my hard work was completely crushed. Suddenly, though, I got another email from my Italiamerica angel, Giovanna, asking if I had any other Italian grandparents. All of my ascendants are Italians, so I quickly started listing off any information that I knew with high hopes for eligibility. Success! We discovered that I am eligible through my maternal great grandfather.

Of course your needs are different than mine, unless you’re also going through your maternal great grandfather. The base is the same. You need to prove that you are a direct descendant of an Italian person.

Ordering any records from Italy, and from the USCIS take the longest so jump on those first. I ordered my italian documents from myitalianfamily.com, and they arrived in about one month, which was considered very fast. For the naturalization record, you’ll need to order through the USCIS for the naturalization CD (yes, a compact disc. If you were born after the year 2000 ask your parents):

Go to USCIS.com. Click on TOOLS and then RESEARCH FAMILY IMIGRATION HISTORY. Once here go to ORDER SEARCH and then click on RECORD REQUEST WITHOUT CASE NUMBER. Here you will complete the form and request Certificate of Naturalization with certificate number. The documents you received from Duchess county will have the information they are requesting.

    While you’re waiting for those documents, start collecting everything else. One thing that would prove very difficult is finding out exact dates of when my ancestors were born, married, and passed away. These dates are crucial in order to locate their records. Unfortunately all of my ancestors on my mother’s side passed away very young, as well. I scoured the internet for information on my ancestors, but did not have much luck. I was, however, able to pin down the years that some of my ancestors may have been born through ancestry.com. With high hopes, I contacted the city of Poughkeepsie in an effort to locate the records I needed. They gave me instructions on how to request records from vital records offices. I immediately sent in requests for the documents, but received a call a week later saying they could not find anything. I felt defeated, but I knew this was only the beginning and that I needed to keep researching. After a month of searching with minimal luck, I received an unexpected phone call from Poughkeepsie saying they had found my great grandfather’s documents! I had no idea they were still looking, so it was overwhelming to have people supporting me in bureaucratic offices. From that point forward, I was able to acquire the rest of my documents from the city and town of Poughkeepsie, thanks to the incredibly dedicated staff. During my interview, though, the interviewer stressed that he was giving me a break and that typically they ONLY accept certified copies from the state, not the local levels, so it is imperative that you order the documents through your state’s legislation. I know a few people who went through the state to order documents with no problems, but some people encountered a request for a court order. In that case, you may need to look into acquiring an affidavit or petition the department of health. This is where a lawyer would come in very handy, since most of us would not know where to start, but call the courts and ask them to explain it to you as thoroughly as possible.

Name Discrepancies

    If you have never experienced a migraine, you will if you have any name discrepancies in your documents (sorry, just a warning). All documents must match the birth record. For example, your grandfather’s name on your mother’s marriage license must match the name on your grandfather’s birth certificate. To save you the headache, this is something I would absolutely just wait until your interview for. I wasted an abundance of time fixating on the details of the [many] discrepancies in my documents, when they all ended up working out just fine. The interviewer acknowledged them, but was very understanding that perhaps whoever was recording the documents at the time did not understand their accent, or that they started using a confirmation name in their later life. If you do have discrepancies, the interviewer may request a certificate from the archdiocese for evidence of a confirmation name. Any additional documentation will require translation and certification from the apostille.  

The one inescapable name discrepancy was my mother’s name change. She was born with the name Jo Ann, but prefered Joanne in her youth, so that’s just what she used from that point forward! There was unfortunately no legal name change, though. She had to legally change her name to Joanne (which she wanted to do anyway). Once she filed for a name change with the county clerk of her current residence, she then had to publish it in the county newspaper. After publishing it in the paper, she had to then file a petition to the New York State Department of Health in Albany. They then validated her petition, and sent her a new copy of her birth certificate (after some unnecessary back and forths).

If there have been any legal name changes of your relatives, make sure to have all supporting documents. Any supporting documentation must be certified by the county clerk and apostille. Requesting certified copies of documents from the state can take 4-6 weeks.

Translations

I thought I knew how to speak Italian well enough that I would be able to translate my own documents. I handed them off to a professional to cross-check my work, and it was an absolute nightmare for her. The amount of money I spent correcting documents would have covered the cost of having them translated professionally from the start. I worked closely with three translators. One being a former professor of mine, Paul D’Agostino. Another being a friend of a different professor of mine, Rossana Ceruzzi. The third being Gabriella Einaga. All of which are fully qualified, and professional! I found Gabriella to be the most cost-effective, but all three are thorough and worth the expense.


Certifications and Apostille


If you are applying in New York City, all of your documents must be county clerk certified prior to obtaining the apostille. To break it down: My documents are from Poughkeepsie. Any of those documents that needed to be certified by the apostille, must first be taken to the Duchess County Clerk for a County Clerk Certification. It seems like an unnecessary step because they are already certified copies, but keep in mind that this is the way that Italy needs to receive the documents.

If you need to get a translation apostilled, you must first get it notarized by the Global Language Services NYC (305 Broadway, New York, NY). Make sure you have cash and a smile because this is by far the worst office I have ever experienced in my life. Once you get the translation notarized, you have to get the notarized translation notarized again by the New York County Clerk (60 Centre St, New York, NY 10007) Yes, they take card. THEN, take those notarized documents to the apostille. The only reason I needed my translations apostilled is because they had mistakes that I had to correct. That’s why I needed to certify that I translated the documents to the best of my ability, and get that notarized.

The people at the apostille office are very kind, but they have people yelling at them all day. Make their lives easier by having everything you need together. Have your check made out to NYDOS ready, along with your request document.


The Forms


Forms 1, 2, 3, and 4 on the consulate’s website must be filled out and notarized. I honestly debated becoming a notary public because of all the documents I needed notarized, but there is a free notary at your bank. You will need one form for each person in direct line to you. For example, my great grandfather and grandfather are both deceased; Therefore I need a Form 4 for both of them. My mother is alive (thank goodness), therefore I need a notarized Form 3 for her. Henceforth, even if the ancestor you are applying for citizenship through is not alive, you will still need Form 3 for any direct descendent between you and that ancestor.

The Interview

Dress nicely, like you’re going to a job interview. BE ORGANIZED. Have all of your documents organized in separate folders (listed above) so you’re not scrambling through paperwork and wasting the interviewer’s time.

Only speak when spoken to. They don’t care about your epic and interesting story of how your ancestors arrived in this country, so although they may be great stories, try to keep them to yourself. They also do not care if you can speak Italian. I memorized the entire Italian National Anthem just in case they asked me to sing it during my interview. I obviously did not need to do this, but it was great to learn the anthem of the country I would hopefully have citizenship.

I made my appointment for March 13, 2018 with confidence that all of my angels would be right next to me cheering me on in spirit. I spent the beginning of the week shaking in fear that something would go wrong, and that I would not be eligible after all of that hard work. The application took me one and a half years in total, so I was terrified that something would cause it to go wrong. I wore my grandmother’s necklace to the interview, and had my great aunt’s religious relics tucked close to my heart (I’m not even religious!). Being superstitious comes with being Sicilian, I guess. When I walked into the room, an immediate sense of calmness came over me. I knew that I no matter what, everything was going to be just fine.

Click here to see my total expenses breakdown.

I hope this helps you! If you have any questions or concerns, please email me at alyssadadamo@gmail.com and I am more than happy to walk you through anything.

Thank you to everyone who helped and supported me through this process! I truly would not have been able to do it on my own. Special thanks to my incredible parents, amore mio Davide Vossel, Cathy Scivolette, Kelly Tremper, Pietro Curto, Giuliana Mackler, Naomi Panciroli, Lorenza Gambini, Andrea Buratti, Eleonora Conte, Giovanna from Italiamerica, Jena Cassalina, Luisa Caldwell, Paul D’Agostino, Rossana Ceruzzi, Gabriella Einaga, Connor Clemmer, Mauro Buratti, Eddy Roscigno, Sonia Rubagotti, Tania Vossel, Donatella Vossel, Karen, the Italian Consulate in NYC, and Lambrusco Secco!

UPDATE 2 MAY 2018:

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Alyssa D'AdamoComment