Saturday, February 08, 2014

Jus sanguinis

As I've mentioned on Facebook and Twitter, I am now apparently an Italian citizen.

Italy, like Ireland, allows "heritage" dual citizenship for Americans who can prove genealogical descent (and who are willing to assemble a ton of documents and jump through a lot of hoops), and after years of talking about it, my dad finally submitted all the paperwork through the Italian consulate in Los Angeles; eleven months later, the members of my immediate family have dual citizenship (Cosimo will be eligible in October, after we've been married for three years). If I can convince the New York consulate to update my address, I could have an Italian passport as early as next month.

It's a weird thing. I can't decide if it's more James Bond--a lock-box full of passports!--or more suburban-Subaru with a rear-window full of college and country decals. Since I have no plans to move to the EU, in the short-term this basically buys me shorter lines at European customs & immigration and means I wouldn't need a visa if wanted to spend more than 90 days in an EU country (e.g., while on a sabbatical or leading a study abroad program). Given that Italy does not offer birthright citizenship and in fact makes citizenship very hard to obtain for the children of immigrants, I admit I'm a little uncomfortable with the politics of the program; by all means, take whatever advantage you can of Italian-American pride, nostalgia, and tourism dollars--but my Italian "blood" does not make me as Italian as a kid of North African descent whose first language is Italian and who has lived there his entire life.

Still. My discomfort doesn't mean I won't be flashing my passport and speaking with the approximate fluency of a six-year-old at every future opportunity.


Comradde PhysioProffe said...


Fretful Porpentine said...

I'm envious, regardless. One of my cousins has looked into trying to become a Polish citizen by right of descent, but unfortunately we don't seem to qualify under the (very, very Byzantine) rules. This probably matters to me less than it did before I had a tenure-track job, but EU citizenship would still be pretty cool.

Contingent Cassandra said...

Cool! It doesn't look like I'm eligible for the Irish version (too many intervening generations; we're talking potato famine-era migration, or just after). At the very least, this gives those whose ancestors arrived long about the time the DAR was making itself obnoxious about who was a real American something that is of more potential practical use/benefit than DAR membership (for which I *am* eligible, but in which I have no interest; I always told my grandmother that she and her mother should have quit when Eleanor Roosevelt did). What goes around comes around, I suppose (and maybe the same will happen, long-term, in Italy).

undine said...

Well, that is very cool--congratulations! Does it have to be a close descent, like within a certain number of generations?

Flavia said...

Thanks, peeps!


In surfing the web, it looks like there are several Italian members of Parliament now promoting the cause of birthright citizenship, so who knows? Maybe within the next decade.


I don't know all the regulations, since my dad did the work, but my understanding is that people with at least one great-grandparent who was (at one time) an Italian citizen are eligible. The most important catch is that all your surviving ancestors have to become citizens in order for you to be--i.e., I couldn't have become a citizen if my father hadn't. Italy also limited citizenship to the paternal line up through WWII, so there are also some restrictions depending on which side your Italian ancestry is on, and who was born where when.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations and this is a BIG advantage if you ever decide to move to EU and look for jobs. First, this way you can move first, settle there and then look for a job. Second, you are more likely to be considered for jobs, because from the employer's point of view 1) there's no visa hassle and 2) the employer would not have to demonstrate anymore that there is noone else in EU as qualified as you to get the job (as the rule says has to be done when hiring from outside EU).

undine said...

Thanks, Flavia. It's such a cool possibility.

Bardiac said...

I laughed at the poster on the side.

And if you can speak with the fluency of a 6 year old, you rock! They pretty much manage everything in a language except weird constructions and sophisticated vocabulary, no?

Renaissance Girl said...

Don't know how I missed this news, but I'm filled with envy. Also, laughing at the image.