Italian citizenship by marriage: real stories and curiosities

Jan 11, 2021

This article is written by Marco Mazzeschi and contributed to our publication on Medium.com.

Follow us on Medium.com/StudioMazzeschi for more latest articles.

Colin Firth, the Oscar-winning actor, lead actor in Kingsman, Bridget Jones’s Diary’ and Mamma Mia!, was granted Italian citizenship in 2017. Colin has been married to Italian film producer Livia Giuggioli since 1997.

A statement from the Italian Interior Ministry confirmed: “The very famous actor, who won an Oscar for the film The King’s Speech, is married to a citizen from our country and has often declared his love for our land.”

The actor said that he has been connected to Italy “for more than two decades now”. He added: “We never really thought much about our different passports. But now, with some of the uncertainty around, we thought it sensible that we should all get the same.”

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The spouse of an Italian citizen has been legally residing in Italy for two years

The spouse or partner in a civil union of an Italian citizen who has registered residenza for at least 2 years and holding a valid permesso di soggiorno, can apply for Italian citizenship after 2 years from the date of marriage or civil union, which is reduced to 1 year if the couple has children, also adopted, according to Italian law.

Example 1. George (U.S. citizen) entered into a civil union with Claudio (Italian citizen) in January 2014 and they are legally residing in Italy since then.George can apply for Italian citizenship in January 2016.

Example 2. Marco (Italian citizen) married Mary (Australian citizen) in January 2014 and they are legally residing in Italy since then. They had a child in December 2014, born in Italy. Mary can therefore apply for Italian citizenship in January 2015.

The spouse of an Italian citizen residing abroad

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The spouse of an Italian citizen who resides abroad can apply for Italian citizenship after 3 years from the date of marriage or civil union, reduced to 18 months if the couple has children according to Italian law.

Example 1. Sean (Australian citizen) married Giovanna (Italian citizen) in July 2014. They are legally residing abroad and they have a child born on January 2015. Sean can apply for Italian citizenship in January 2016.

Example 2. Ken (New Zealand citizen) entered into a civil union with Claudio (Italian citizen) in July 2014. They are legally residing abroad. Ken can apply for Italian citizenship in July 2017.

Can same sex spouses obtain citizenship? YES

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Photo by Yoav Hornung on Unsplash

Non-EU same-sex spouse of an Italian citizen has alsothe right to obtain Italian citizenship. An application can be made 2 years after the marriage if residing in Italy or 3 years after if residing abroad. The Italian spouse must however be registered with AIRE, i.e. registry of Italian citizens living abroad, which is kept by Italian Consulates.

Which are the other requirements?

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Language test: the law also requires knowledge of Italian to at least B1 level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL). Those (i) who have a long-term EU residence permit (ii) who are already living in Italy and comply with the Integration Agreement provisions or (iii) who have a qualification from an Italian state school or state-recognized private school, are exempt from this requirement; and

Criminal records: the applicant must submit criminal records (not older that6 months) issued by the country of origin and by any other countries where she/he resided since the age of 14 years old.

Did you marry an Italian man before 1983? If so, you are automatically Italian

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Any woman who married an Italian man up until April 27, 1983 obtained Italian citizenship in an automatic and immediate manner from the date of the marriage. The above rule was based on the principle that woman’s status followed her husband’s status. Therefore, women had to share the same citizenship as the one of their spouse.

Don’t split before citizenship adjudication!

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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Citizenship by marriage can only be applied for if the couple is still married or joint in a civil union and the bond is still in effect at the time of adjudication. Applications by marriage can either be filed at the Italian Consulate or in Italy, provided that the applicant takes residency in Italy.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this article (i) does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; (ii) are for general informational purposes only and may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information (iii) this website may contain links to other third-party websites. Such links are only for the convenience of the reader; (iv) readers should contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter.

Marco Mazzeschi

Attorney at law. One of the leading corporate immigration lawyers in Italy. Admitted to the Milan Bar Association (1988) and to the Taipei Bar Association (2016), a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and an accredited partner of Invest in Tuscany. Schedule a consultation call

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