POINT Chapter 15 Meeting - May 2, 2009

POINTers In Person
Lou Costello Chapter 15

Northern New Jersey

Pursuing Our Italian Names Together
May 2, 2009


The Northern New Jersey chapter of POINTers In Person met on May 2, 2009 at the Elmwood Park Municipal Building.  Thirty people attended.

Maria Carparelli (#2100) welcomed members and guests.  She gave the chapter an update on “Ancestry World Archives Indexing Project”.  Currently available to be indexed are death registers of Pavia (Lombardia) 1866-1937 and registers of marriages and deaths (1866-1937) from Verbano-Cusio-Ossola (Piemonte).  Maria also spoke about the April 6 earthquake in L’Aquila (Abruzzo region) which destroyed lives and history and how to contribute to the relief efforts set up by UNICO.  Also mentioned was that the Passaic County Historical Society meeting, the Genealogy Seminar at Bergen County Community College and the Hudson County Genealogy Society bus tour, including a tour of four local historic cemeteries, were all scheduled for the next weekend.

Maryanne Graham (#3654) presented the treasurer’s report.  The chapter has 35 active members.

Sue Berman (#4405) introduced Dr. Sandra Lee, of Seton Hall University, who briefly spoke about her books.  These books form part of a larger project featuring a collection of photos of old Italian neighborhoods in New Jersey.  An exhibit has been rescheduled for October 2009 in Newark and will be sponsored by the Italian consulate.

Daniel V. Donatacci, a professional genealogist and specialist in Italian records and the citizenship application process, gave a very interesting talk, “Obtaining Your Italian Citizenship: A How-To Presentation”.  A professional librarian and archivist, he is also a doctoral student.  He recommended the book, “How to Legally Obtain a Second Citizenship and Passport – and why you want to” by Adam Starchild (1995).  Donatacci had his Italian citizenship acknowledged a few years ago due to a sentimental attachment to the mother country and because he intends to teach Italian Literature in the European Union and hopes to retire there.

He first gave the chapter general principles and then presented a roadmap for members to decide whether they might be interested in obtaining Italian dual citizenship and to go about doing so.

Among the benefits is the ability to obtain a passport which can be used throughout the European Union.  As a citizen of the EU (currently consisting of 27 member states) one can live and work anywhere in the EU, though one wouldn’t necessarily be permitted to retire in any member state.  If an applicant files and is granted citizenship, his/her children would automatically receive it too, as would other eligible family members.  Dual tax laws prevent one from paying taxes in both countries.  Mandatory military service ended in 2001.  American citizenship is completely unaffected.  There are many other benefits as well.  Donatacci doesn’t see any downside, unless one learns that the reality of dual citizenship doesn’t match faulty preconceptions.

A 1992 Italian law affirmed explicitly the “law of blood” stating that any children born of Italian parents immediately inherits Italian citizenship and this citizenship continues to be passed down from parent to child unless the line is legally broken (i.e. by naturalization as a U.S. citizen).  However, the inheritance of Italian citizenship through the maternal line is only possible for those born after
January 1, 1948.

To determine eligibility, the chosen line of descent must not contain a person born after the immigrating ancestor naturalized.  A child born before January 1, 1948 is not eligible if the mother’s line of descent is being claimed.  Children under 18 years of age automatically receive citizenship.  All residents of the territories of Italy automatically became Italian citizens when Italy united in 1861.  If the ancestor was born in Italy before 1861 and emigrated, he was not technically an Italian citizen, since Italy did not yet exist.  In the U.S., any branch of the Italian Consulate has jurisdiction to make determination of eligibility.

The process begins with obtaining the birth and marriage records of the first ancestor and the birth record of the spouse from the Italian town’s “Ufficiale di Stato Civile”.  While waiting for a response, seek the U.S. naturalization record.  If the naturalization record cannot be found, this fact must be substantiated with a certificate of “NO RECORD FOUND” from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the National Archives.  Then obtain every birth and marriage record from the first ancestor down to the applicant for each of the direct lines.  All direct-line vital records from the U.S. must have attached an apostille (from the state office which filed the record), certifying it to be an authentic, legal record.  No apostille is needed for a naturalization record, since it is a federal document.  Photocopy all originals for your own files.  There must be no gaps in the documentation.  Each generation in the chosen line must be represented and shown to have continued citizenship.  Translations of the U.S. records into Italian might be necessary if you apply to the consulates outside New York City, Houston or Philadelphia.  Make sure that the records are transcribed correctly and exactly, and contain the correct form of name.

After all the necessary documentation is collected, make an appointment to submit it together with an application form to the chosen Italian consulate.  A cover letter should include the name of the Italian town where it is desired for the civil status documents to be registered.  The applicant’s current ID should also be available.  Finally, the consulate will contact the applicant by postal mail informing him/her that he/she has been recognized as an Italian citizen. This approval letter will include an application for an Italian passport and an application for the town’s registry of vital information. Fill them out and return them promptly.  An Italian passport will be sent and the process is then complete. Most of the time, the entire process can be done by the applicant without hiring anyone.

Numerous questions followed.

It is most important to understand that American citizenship is based on place (of birth) while Italian citizenship is based completely on blood.  Another essential fact is to remember that one is not granted citizenship, but rather has his/her already existing citizenship formally acknowledged.
The best source of information about Italian dual citizenship is the local Italian consulate.
Remember, what is necessary and what might be allowed depends on the interpretation of the Italian law by the local Italian consulate.  Interpretations of the law and policies may vary with each consulate.  The process is long, but worthwhile.  Patience is essential.

More information is available by e-mailing Daniel Donatacci at
Penpiano@yahoo.com or see his website: http://danieldonatacci.wikidot.com

Future meetings will be held on:

     August 1, 2009
     November 7, 2009
     February 6, 2010
     May 1, 2010

 For details, see our website: https://sites.rootsweb.com/~njpoint/


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