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Citizenship | Italy |

Italy Introduction Historical Development of Immigration Recent Developments Migration Policies The Immigrant Population Citizenship Immigrant Integration and Integration Policy Irregular Migration Refuge and Asylum Future Challenges Literature and Internet Resources


Dr. Giorgia Di Muzio

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The first law on citizenship was passed in 1912 (Act 555). It established the jus sanguinis principle whereby only descendants of Italians had the right to obtain Italian citizenship, and predominantly the male line of descent.

Thus, Children automatically acquired their father's citizenship. Foreign women married to an Italian man were granted Italian citizenship whereas Italian women lost Italian citizenship in case of marriage with a foreign national if they acquired the citizenship of their husband.

Since 1992 citizenship and naturalisation have been regulated by law 91 which abolished the gender differences of the previous law with regard to acquiring Italian citizenship. It is, however, still based on the concept of jus sanguinis: the law eased access to citizenship for descendants of Italian emigrants but did not grant the same right to Italy's immigrant population.

Acquisition of Italian citizenship and percentage of total foreign population (bpb) Lizenz: cc by-nc-nd/3.0/de/

Acquisition of citizenship according to the jus soli principle is limited to children whose parents are either unknown or stateless or if children are not automatically granted citizenship by their parents' country of origin. The law further admits requests for naturalisation from non-EU citizens legally resident in Italy for at least ten years (four years for EU citizens). Furthermore, citizenship can be obtained through marriage to an Italian citizen after the foreign spouse has been legally resident on Italian territory for two years following the marriage (for three years if he/she is resident abroad). Second generation immigrants, born in Italy of parents with foreign citizenship may apply for Italian citizenship during a period of twelve months following their 18th birthday if they have lived continuously in Italy until adulthood. This law also allows for dual citizenship.

Against the background of a growing immigrant population, the number of foreign citizens acquiring Italian citizenship continuously increased in the past years. Between 2005 and 2010 more than 288,000 people were naturalized. In 2010, 1.6% of the immigrant population became Italian citizens (cf. Figure 2).


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Dr. Giorgia Di Muzio studied political science and sociology at the University of Bologna. She wrote her doctoral thesis on Eastern European women in the household and care market in Italy.

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