So You Want to be an Italiano
An Introduction to Dual Citizenship
-by Diane Hirsch
|Back in 1956, the great Neapolitan composer and pianist Renato Carosone made famous the song “Tu Vuò Fa L’Americano” or “So You Want to be an American”.
These days, it seems the opposite is true.
There are a great number of people, myself included, from America and other countries, applying for Italian citizenship jure sanguinis (through blood).
While I am not an expert, I thought I would write a bit about the basics and my own journey so far.
In 1992 the Italian government expanded its definition of citizenship, making foreigners who are able to trace their Italian heritage, eligible by “right of blood” or jure sanguinis. There are other ways of acquiring citizenship, such as through marriage (“jure matrimonio”) or naturalization. I will be covering only the “jure sanguinis” process.
Why do it? People desire dual citizenship with Italy for many reasons. The best reason is that you can live in Italy, one of the most beautiful places on earth! Other benefits include being able to live and work anywhere in the European Union. If you work for an international company, having an Italian passport can be advantageous and you can go into business abroad with greater ease. Italian citizens have access to free health care and public education.
For me, it is mostly personal. I want to complete the circle my Grandfather started. My Grandfather, like many others, came from Italy to America for employment opportunities. I suspect that he intended to return to Italy after making some money. However, met my Grandmother, who was born in New York and the rest is family history. He lived here 21 years before he became a U.S. citizen. By coming full circle, I will, in some small way, be returning a part of him to his birthplace.
Believe me, I am not ungrateful for the sacrifices my Grandparents made, nor do I intend to renounce my American citizenship.
But there are many things that Italy offers that I would like in my life.
It is a gorgeous country brimming with history and art and populated by a warm, wonderful people.
I like their lifestyle—the afternoon respite, the evening passeggiata.
I want to live in a place where cows still graze and eat grass.
I want to be able to buy fruit that comes without stickers with numbers and barcodes that leave glue residue and whose removal tears the fruit’s fragile skin. Now that I’m older, I would like to live in a place that values its older citizens and finds in their words and wrinkled faces wisdom and comfort.
If you are considering taking the leap, you must first find out if you qualify.