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IMPORTANT new citizenship law will require Italian test

PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2006 12:05 pm
by Muddoni
Hey all. As sometimes announced and expected, here we are.

The Italian cabinet of ministers approved on August 7th a set of modifications to the citizenship law. ( ...

It will have to be approved by Parliament before being official, which is why it is still not mentioned by the Consulates. There will certainly be some modifications to this text before it's finalised, but if you follow italian media there is general agreement by all political forces on something:

All new citizens who apply through marriage or residence in Italy will have to prove their level of integration and knowledge of Italian culture.
That means they will have to PASS A TEST (in Italian) on basic Italian cultural and political facts, and they will have to pass a test of Italian language!
Nothing is said yet for those who apply through their ancestors - we will see..

You find a lot on info on ... go2006.htm
where you can also download the new law.

It will be some months before this is implemented but I do suggest to everyone: START IMPROVING YOUR ITALIAN AND READING ITALIAN MEDIA!! It's the best way to learn more about the country and it can be a lot of fun too.



PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2006 2:44 pm
by arg1
Thanks for the info. I'm applying through ancestors, and I know you said that nothing has been said on new requirements for that yet, but as it sounds like you've been following the Italian media, has there been any speculation as to possible changes?


PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2006 3:05 pm
by Muddoni
well yes there are MANY speculations also on those who apply through ancestors.
it's hard to say what the outcome will be, but there's a lot of people who are unhappy with new citizens not speaking a word of italian or understanding italian legislation.

my advice is simply to take up decent Italian classes and try to bring it to the level where you can read a paper and understand what's going on.. this does no harm as it's such a beautiful language. decent teachers are generally available all over the country, too.

impariamo l'italiano!

law changes

PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2006 4:58 pm
by Muddoni
I wrote here some time ago, saying that the law on obtaining citizenship through marriage was about to be changed, and some people posted comments saying "no way, never going to happen, etc.".

Well that's exactly what just happened!

Looks like here we go again..

Don't know how Angiolo knows IN ADVANCE what the Italian parliament will and will not do, it's truly a mistery to me?!
There is no reason why current legislation should not be modified if there's a general sentiment about the need to do so in Italy.


PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2006 6:10 pm
by Em

You're right in that you never know when Italian laws may change, but you are not making an important distinction.

Jure sanguinis applicants are already Italian citizens. The jure sanguinis process is simply the method we must use to prove it. This is a different situation from someone who is NOT and never was an Italian citizen and wishes to become one. That's called "naturalization," which is something quite different.

No country in the world (at least none that I know of) requires citizens to take a language test to maintain citizenship. (If the U.S. did that, some of my students would be in big trouble :wink: )

So, for this ruling to extend to jure sanguinis applicants, Italy's definition of citizenship would have to change. Can this happen? Of course. Is it likely? Probably not, at least not anytime in the near future. And if Italy's definition of citizenship does change, many of us would no longer be eligible so the language issue becomes moot.

So there is no need for jure sanguinis applicants to panic. However, as I stated on the other two threads on which you posted this information, anyone who wishes to have his Italian citizenship recognized, should, at the very least, make an attempt to learn its language.

PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2006 6:29 pm
by Anonymous
Em, you are correct, in that everyone, especially those like me who want to live permanently in Italy, should make an effort to learn the Italian language.

As you said, they would have to change the citizenship laws, but, as it stands right now, the Minister only referenced changing the immigration laws, which is quite different.

PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2006 7:16 pm
by arg1
That's a least for now. I can speak some Italian but I would be shocked if it could pass a language test; I may have hit the panic button a little early when I read that. Thanks Em and Angiolo for putting it in perspective and thanks Giuseppe for giving me an incentive to brush up on my Italian.

PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2006 12:49 pm
by Em
I've been giving this issue a great deal of thought and am a bit concerned that the news regarding changes in Italian immigration laws may unduly distress some people. So if you'll permit me, I'd like to clarify further.

First of all, some of the confusion arises from the terminology we use. We say we are "applying" for jure sanguinis citizenship. Actually we are not "applying" at all. We are submitting documents that demonstrate our current citizenship status, and we are asking that this citizenship be officially recognized by Italy. Thus jure sanguinis has nothing at all to do with immigration or immigration laws. It is simply a recognition of currently held citizenship.

The immigration laws do affect those who are NOT or who HAVE NEVER BEEN Italian. It is a naturalization process much like the one we have in the U.S. Specific criteria are established by every country regarding who is eligible to naturalize, how many years of residence are required, any tests that must be taken, etc. In the U.S., for example, anyone born on U.S. soil is a U.S. citizen; this is not true in Italy.

Italy defines citizenship by blood, not by birth location, and that, in fact is what jure sanguinis means. Thus, those of us who can trace our bloodline from Italian parent, to Italian grandparent, etc., were born Italian citizens. Because we also hold citizenship in the country of our birth, we have to prove (through our documents) that the Italian bloodline was never broken.

That is all we are doing. We are not applying for citizenship; we already are citizens. We are not immigrants; we can continue to reside in our country of birth. We do not need to naturalize; citizens don't naturalize.

Italy is now considering a modification of its immigration laws. One proposal is to reduce the number of years an applicant would have to reside in Italy in order to qualify. Another proposal allows people born in Italy to naturalize after a specific period of residence. Another proposal is to require a test to ensure that applicants have an understanding of the Italian language and it's culture. These proposed changes may be politically, economically, or socially motivated, but if any or all of these proposals become law, they will affect only those who seek Italian citizenship through naturalization.

That being said, there is some sentiment among Italians that the Italian definition of citizenship is too liberal, and it is indeed much more liberal than those of other European nations. If the jure sanguinis laws do change, they will probably change in one of the following ways:

- limit the number of generations through which one can document citizenship OR
- limit the number of years through which citizenship can be traced.

This would mean a redefinition of citizenship, and that's why I strongly believe such changes are not imminent. In addition, the primary concern in Italy today is immigration policy (including the problems associated with illegal immigration).

So take a deep breath jure sanguinis people. Gather your documents; deliver them to the consulate, and wait. That much hasn't changed. :lol:

PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2006 2:39 pm
by Anonymous
I am one of those persons guilty of using the phrase "applying for Italian citizenship per jure sanguinis", or similiar phrase.

However, EM is correct in that those who qualify per Jure Sanguinis are in fact already Italian citizens, and are not really applying for it. Thus, the terminology 'applying' is not quite suitable in this regard.
But, there is an application to fill out for recognition of citizenship, which is usually a "green form" more rigid or heavier than a piece of paper, and must be filled out. Some people may look at an application as still applying, but it is only a formal request of pertinent information, that pertains to a person`s civil status, which is not like filling out an application for employment, or for approval.

PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2006 3:13 pm
by Anonymous
Thanks all for your thoughts on the proposed changes. I received my Italian Passport under the 'jure sanguinis' process a couple of months ago ( and well proud I am) so my grown-up sons should be ok when they get round to 'applying' for theirs in the near future.
However, although my wife's details have been advised for recording she has not as yet 'applied' for a Passport - we decided to get me sorted out first.
The first post by Muddoni mentions 'applications through marriage....'
As a 'non-Italian' as it were by birth, only through marriage to me (unworthy as I am... she might say:D ) is it your opinion she might be caught up in the proposed changes? Or should she just go ahead quickly and get the job done?
You thoughts would be appreciated.



PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2006 3:34 pm
by Muddoni
thanks Em for the very well done clarification.

dankat: the changes will apply to your wife if she applies for citizenship through marriage AFTER the proposed changes are approved by parliament (this fall?), or (less likely) even if she applies now, in case the modifications have a limited retroactivity (e.g. they apply to all pending applications).

to be on the safe side i'd tell your wife to enroll in Italian classes...
she won't regret it!

Top ranking italian official said it!!

PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2006 4:11 pm
by Muddoni
On jure sanguinis applications, sorry to be always the one who gives the bad news but...

The deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs officially said to parliament, this past july, that he considers an option "worthy of consideration" to submit ALSO JURE SANGUNIS RECOGNITION OF ITALIAN CITIZENSHIP to knowledge of Italian LANGUAGE.

Here is the link at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy.

Of course it is in Italian!!! this is ironic I know..

Please not that Deputy Minister Danieli is the Minister's delegate on italians abroad, so he's basically the top ranking italian officer on this matter!!

Well don't say I have not warned you....

PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2006 4:48 pm
by Em
You ARE the bearer of bad news. :lol: Actually, it's NOT so bad news at all. This suggestion (note he carefully uses the term "worthy of consideration") would be considerably more difficult to implement than the proposed immigration changes.

Only my opinion, but I think the deputy Minister is trying to make "points" with anti-immigration forces, but he is well aware of the ramifications of his "suggestion," which is why he uses such nebulous language. The implementation of his "suggestion" would require serious rethinking of Italy's definition of citizenship. Given the controversy already surrounding the proposed changes in the immigration law, I doubt parliament is ready to make sweeping changes in its concept of citizenship. Also, unless I am mistaken, his position is advisory in nature, and he has no actual power to introduce legislation.

Then, too, there is that already overburdened consular system that would then have to administer tests in addition to the other **** paperwork already required to process citizenship requests. I can imagine some overworked consular official "going postal," and bye bye Signore deputy Minister. :roll:

Sounds like political posturing to me, but his suggestion is totally impractical; and I, for one, am not worried.

I should say, though, that I'm l confident I could pass a test administered in Italian. My son would have some difficulty, however. :wink:

PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2006 9:02 pm
by Em
I am not concerned at all. I have no doubt that the jure sanguinis definition of citizenship will be with us for a long time. You are correct, Angiolo, that requiring a demonstration of Italian competence of some citizens and not of others would create a major legal hurdle and would inevitably be challenged in the courts as discriminatory. I'd also guess that it would be a case the government could not win.

What, in effect, would have to happen is that Italy would have to create different categories of citizens--first class citizens, who are born with all rights of citizenship; and second-class citizens, who are also born with all rights of citizenship but who would have to take a test to retain those rights. I can't imagine any politician in his right mind heading in that direction, and that's why I am not concerned.

As I stated in my last posting, the deputy Minister appears to be posturing. He is a political appointee with little actual power. Right now, immigration is a "hot-button" issue in Italy, and a proposed law liberalizing immigration procedures has come under fire because people are worried that if enacted, these procedures would encourage excessive immigration and a subsequent dilution of Italian culture and language. Whether this fear is justified or not, the immigration debate continues.

By suggesting that jure sanguinis citizens demonstrate their worthiness by taking a test in Italian language and culture, the deputy Minister demonstrates an appalling ignorance of Italy's citizenship laws. His suggestion is ludicrous, and I'd be absolutely amazed if it were seriously considered.

I try to focus my concerns on what is rather on what may possibly be at some future date. Others, however, may not agree, and to those who worry about changes in jure sanguinis citizenship status, all I can say is: Learn Italian. It won't hurt you; it will certainly help you; and if it makes you feel better about the future, go for it. But try not to worry.

wait a minute

PostPosted: Fri Aug 25, 2006 9:26 pm
by Muddoni
Em - Angiolo : what's wrong with you guys??

Angiolo says there's no article implying change to italian legislation on jure sanguinis. Let me say it again: the highest ranking Italian officer on this matter officially announced to parliament that he deems it possible to modify the procedure for jure sanguinis citizenship recognition BY ADDING A TEST OF ITALIAN.

Once again, the deputy minister speech is on the official website of the ministry of foreign affairs, at

Then, Em: the deputy minister has 'little actual power'? does not know italian legislation?? He is not seriously considered?
My friend, what are you talking about? what qualifies you for such a statement? I would advise reading some italian newspaper and or the constitution. Deputy ministers of foreign affairs are taken very seriously in Italy when they talk about citizenship legislation.. no wonder! They are responsible for consulates all over the world!
(oh and the newspapers might help for your test too.:-))

In all seriousness: Danieli is a deputy member of cabinet and his speeches in parliament are checked by his staff at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, namely professionals who actually DRAFT italian legislation. But Em knows italian legislation better than the italian goverment?? WOW..

I admit I start having a hard time following you guys...

So: no one here, certainly not me, wants to alarm applicants. Just keep in mind the italian government is SERIOUSLY considering a modification to jure sanguinis legislation, and a good idea is to be prepared just by taking some italian. At home, on line, buy a book, whatever. I don't see any harm in this, and I don't see the reason for the harsh statements by Em and Angiolo.