There are commonly 3 categories under which an applicant can qualify for Italian citizenship by Descent:
- Citizenship by descent: The male ancestor was not a naturalized American before the birth of his child. If the father was a naturalized American before the birth, his Italian connection is broken.
- Citizenship by descent (1948 ruling): Applies to mothers who in the past couldn’t pass They pretty much become the same as males, but the filing is done in court and the process is faster.
- Fast-track naturalization: If you have an Italian grandfather or father but can’t qualify under the first 2 categories, you can opt for fast-track naturalization after 3 years.
The first 2 options require that the “legal” connection is not lost. In the past, an Italian who became a naturalized American would lose his Italian citizenship. Therefore, he/she couldn’t pass it to one of his/her future children. Those born before his or her parents’ American naturalization were Italian by blood; if they were born in the USA, they were also American at birth. After that, it was unlikely that the connection could be broken. The process to obtain Italian citizenship can be started at an Italian consulate near you if your Italian connection comes from a male ancestor. It can take 2 or 3 years. Now you can also petition an Italian court and get a decision in 1 year. The process to obtain Italian citizenship can be petitioned in an Italian court if the connection comes from a female ancestor. It can take 1 year.
Option 3 is for those with an Italian father or grandfather that do not qualify under the first 2 categories. This option requires the applicant to have held a residence permit for at least 3 years before their application for fast-track naturalization. Simply holding the permit for 3 years is enough to qualify for citizenship, and physical presence in Italy is not a requirement. Nevertheless, a 6-month physical presence in Italy requirement is often imposed in most resident permit categories.
Therefore, most applicants choose the Italy Investor Visa (a.k.a. Golden Visa). This permit requires an investment ranging from €250,000 to €1m in exchange for a fragmented 5-year resident permit and no physical presence requirement. You only need to visit Italy once a year to maintain the resident permit. The naturalization process can take 1 or 2 years, making the 5-year Italian investor visa an important tool as compared to other temporary resident permits that must be renewed annually and require 6 months of physical presence in Italy.