Falling in love with a foreigner and marrying him sounds like an exciting prospect. But looking at the other side, there could be logistical issues regarding immigration in such marriages. You will want to move to your husband’s country and settle down there eventually for happiness ever after. But things aren’t as simple as they sound. It involves getting citizenship of the country of your spouse. The process can be complicated and lengthy, so it makes sense to be prepared well in advance.
Fortunately, countries like Italy have a pretty straightforward process for citizenship by marriage, also known as Jure Matrimonii. Still, knowing all about the process gives you a head start and makes it a tad easier to move in with your new family and start a new life in the country. If you are married to an Italian guy and plan to live in his country for a lifetime, here is everything you need to know about Italian citizenship by marriage.
Eligibility for application
You have to fulfill certain eligibility criteria for applying to citizenship by marriage here, and these extend beyond only being married to a citizen of the country. If residing in Italy, you can apply for it after two years of marriage. The limit increases to three years if you live outside Italy. If you have minor children together, whether biological or adopted, the time is reduced to half.
It means that you can apply after one year if you live in the country or 18 months if you reside abroad. The waiting period for application begins from the date of the marriage, which has to be registered in the Municipality (comune) of your husband. Once you are eligible according to these time limits, you can go ahead with the application process.
Requirements for application
The Italian government announced some changes to the legislation for citizenship by marriage in December 2018. The first one was for the waiting time, which refers to the processing period for the application. The initial period of 24 months is increased to 48 months now, which means you have to wait longer than before.
Secondly, you have to clear the Italian language test to show your proficiency in the local language. You must have a B1 level of the language while appearing for the citizenship interview. It has to be validated with a B1 level certification from an approved educational institution. The result must be certified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAECI) or the Italian Ministry of Education (MIUR).
List of documents required
When you apply, you will need to submit a list of documents to validate your status as a spouse and go ahead with the process. It is vital to gather them beforehand so that there are no delays and hassles when you start. Here are the documents you must have while applying.
- The printed and filled application form, which you must sign before the authorities
- A valid passport and driver’s license, both original and copies
- Marriage certificate by the Italian Commune in original (if married outside of the country, you must present the certificate to a consular authority for registration in Italy)
- Birth certificate, in original and a certified translated copy
- Your proof of residency in Italy
- Spouse’s certificate of citizenship
- A copy of your criminal record (these must include background checks from your residences since the age of 14 years and FBI)
- Affidavit of no divorce/separation
If your husband lives outside of Italy, he must be registered at the Registry of Italian Citizens Residing Abroad (AIRE) at an Italian Embassy or Consulate. You can submit the application online after completing the list of documents. It is convenient and saves time and money, which makes it a preferred choice.
It is important to note that marriage certificate documents and criminal background checks are valid for six months. So you must submit your citizenship application within six months of issuing these documents. Further, you will require an Apostille for documents issued in the US for them to be legal. Documents originating from elsewhere must comply with the local regulations to be used overseas. The ones in foreign languages must be translated into Italian and certified by the local consulate.
Consulate visit and interview for Italian citizenship by marriage
After submitting your application and documents online, you will be called to the consulate for an interview. You need not make the finalization appointment with the Italian Citizenship Jure Matrimonii, rather you can do it with your local consulate/prefecture. They will review your application and send an invitation with an appointment to submit original documents. You will also have to appear for an interview with the Italian authorities. Here is the list of documents you need to carry along.
- Your passport, original, and copy
- Passport of your Italian spouse, original and copy
- Proof of residence, original, and copy
- Your birth certificate, original and apostilled copy
- Marriage registration certificate in original
- A declaration of marriage, signed by both spouses
- Your criminal record in original
- Italian language certificate
- Proof of payment of the consular fee
After you complete the interview and submit the required documents, the authorities forward them to the Ministry of Interior consulate for further processing.
Expert assistance is crucial
Considering the documentation and waiting time for the process, it is clear that applying for citizenship by marriage is not a mean feat. It can drain you, particularly if you go wrong at any stage during the journey. Getting expert assistance puts you in a good place as you can proceed with more confidence, and there are fewer chances of missing out on any document or step of the process. You can read more about the ways to get assistance on Italian Citizenship here before going ahead. Experts can also guide you about your options because you may have more than one alternative to apply for Italian citizenship, depending on your circumstances. Here are the options you can explore other than applying through marriage:
Italian citizenship by descent
Jure Sanguinis or citizenship by descent is perhaps among the easiest and ways to become an Italian citizen. Rather than marrying a citizen, you have to validate that you have an ancestral line in the country. You will be eligible if either of your parents, paternal or maternal grandfather or paternal or maternal great-grandfather was an Italian citizen. The process requires you to locate and obtain certified copies that validate your bloodline in the country. These will be the official documents in the ancestor’s hometown in Italy. The processing time may take up to three years, depending on your case and waiting time at the local consulate. The best thing about citizenship through descent is that it passes down from generation to generation.
Italian citizenship by naturalization
The more complex and time-consuming option is citizenship through naturalization, available for people already residing and working in the country. You will be eligible to apply if you have lived in the country for at least ten years with a valid visa. It works even if you are married to an Italian and have lived this long without applying through marriage. You will require a good understanding or expert guidance of visa laws to obtain naturalization status. The process is lengthy, but worthwhile if you have already been in the country for an extended period and wish to stay here for a lifetime and ensure that your generations can live here peacefully and happily.
Italian citizenship through investment
An additional and easy route to obtaining the citizenship of Italy is through investment, which is known as the Golden Visa. It enables you to immigrate by setting up a business in the country or investing in an Italian company. You will have to invest a massive amount and meet some criteria for being eligible for the program. The minimum investment is €1 million in an Italian company or a project benefitting the economy of the country. Alternatively, you can purchase government bonds worth €2 million to be eligible. Anyone over 18 years of age and with a clean criminal record can apply for the Golden Visa. You will initially get permanent residency status under the program, and it can be converted to an Italian visa later on.
You can consider your circumstances and decide which option works for you. While there are multiple options for availing the citizenship of Italy, you may be in the best place if you marry an Italian. Still, there is much that you need to do and collect if you want to complete the process on time and without any hassles. It is best to collaborate with experts who have the right experience and understanding of the process if you want to complete it at the earliest. The effort is worthy because it will enable you to start a new life with your new family, with the same rights and amenities they have in their home country.
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