The Minor Case: which Italian Dual Citizenship petitions are getting rejected?

Minor Case Italian Dual Citizenship

NOTE: from June 22, 2022, all proceedings regarding Dual Citizenship by Descent no longer pass through the Court of Rome but must be submitted to the District Court of the Italian town where the ancestors were born. Hence, any reference to the Court of Rome must be systematically read as to the District Courts of Italy.

The word Minor Case in Italian Citizenship has been long used to mean that if an Italian father naturalized after his child was born, though still a minor, that child retained Italian Citizenship. This legal argument is based on the Consulate practice to take Italian Citizenship applications. This practice derives from a precedent set by the administrative Court of Italy in 1990, who interpreted art. 7 of law n.r. 555 1912.

However, starting in 2019, judges of the Court of Rome stated that in cases where the ancestors naturalized and the child was a minor, this minor lost Italian Citizenship as well, because art. 12 of law n.r. 555 of 1912 applies. Since then, all judges of Rome are applying art. 12 instead of art. 7, rejecting all cases falling in the same situation.

Conflicting decisions: art. 7 vs. art. 12

Some of these cases have been appealed before the court of Appeals of Rome, but rulings have not been consistent: some panels of higher judges are applying art. 7, some art. 12. The argument for applying art. 7 is that this provision only states that a child of an Italian immigrant born abroad in a country that assigns birthplace Citizenship (like US), does not automatically lose their Italian citizenship (the provision in Italian law before 1912 was that one can only have one citizenship). In the Rome first instance judges think art. 7 does not state what happens if the parent naturalizes, the provision regulating such a case is art. 12, which make parents and child naturalized.

Court of Appeals of Rome

Negative decision of Rome’s lower court can be appealed to the higher Court of Appeals of Rome. As mentioned, one panel of judges agrees with the lower court judges. Another panel disagrees and argues that art. 12 only works in the case that the parent (generally the father) is able to pass the new US Citizenship to the child, which does not happen when the child is born in a birthplace Citizenship country, because the child has already that Citizenship (the US one).

Therefore, the Minor Case for an attorney in Rome dealing with Citizenship represents a big issue because so many cases are rejected by the lower court judges and so few are reversed by the Court of Appeals.

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