Six years ago, Jana and I were dreaming about living in Europe. But practically, we were like construction workers showing up to the job site without a tool belt: we were unable to make anything happen.
Alpine landscapes, quaint cobbled roads, cheese, and wine filled our literal (and daytime!) dreams; but as Americans, the best we could ever achieve was a visit of up to 90 days. Now 90 days ain’t bad! But we wanted to live there, be a local, call it home. And it just didn’t seem like it would happen.
Update: As of 2023, we are permanently living in Switzerland! Read here if you want to know a little more about us.
Becoming eligible for dual citizenship
On a Saturday morning in the Spring of 2015, my longing heart dragged me from bed to my computer, where I frantically looked for a way around this 90-day limit. I would have taken any loophole that even hinted at the possibility of exploiting the system!
But nothing was turning up. Until I found a blog written by a young woman who had gained Italian citizenship because her great grandparents were Italian. Curiously, I recalled Jana’s family traditions —coffee after dinner, cannoli at Christmas, big wedding celebrations — and realized they weren’t random and unconnected. Just like this gal, Jana’s great grandparents had also come from Italy!
If this lady gain Italian citizenship through her lineage, could Jana? I wanted to know how to get dual citizenship!
Jolted with a renewed energy, my research yielded a stunning discovery: Jana was eligible to become an Italian citizen because of her ancestry, a process known as Jure Sanguinis.
It’s official — I’m a dual citizen!
After overcoming the shock (maybe our European living dreams really could become a reality!), we began the greatest scavenger hunt of our lives. We tracked down birth certificates, marriage certificates, naturalization records, census documents, all in an effort to prove that Jana really did have a legitimate claim to this citizenship we were seeking.
We traveled to the Italian consulate in Detroit, Michigan to present everything we had gathered. And about six months later — exactly one year to the day after my beautiful discovery — Jana received a letter officially confirming her as an Italian citizen!
The benefits of Italian dual citizenship
While the prospect of being a dual citizen might just sound like fun, I promise you it’s much more than that! There are tangible, invaluable benefits, some which we’ve already enjoyed, and others we hope to experience later in life.
For example, Italian dual citizens can:
- Visit Italy for as long as they want (no more 90-day limit!)
- Live and become residents in Italy
- Work and/or start a business in Italy
- Buy property in Italy
- Attend Italian universities, paying local tuition rates
- Qualify for national healthcare and other social benefits
- Vote in Italian elections
- Travel visa-free travel to 186 countries
- Pass their citizenship (and its benefits) to their children and future generations!
There are no words to express the possibilities these benefits have opened to us, but it’s even better than it seems. And that’s because Italian citizens enjoy the opportunity to live, work, buy property, attend university, and access healthcare throughout the entire EU!
Other countries that offer dual citizenship through ancestry
If you’re not from that lucky Italian bloodline, you might feel a little left out. But what if I told you that a good number of countries offer citizenship by ancestry, unlocking the benefits listed above?
So, which countries offer dual citizenship? At least 10 European countries currently offer some form of citizenship by ancestry, including:
There may be others. And the qualifications and process for applying vary between countries. But if you know you had family members who were citizens of a European country just a few generations ago, do some research to see if you’re eligible. If so, one day you might just be sipping prosecco from the terrace of your Italian villa, overlooking your vineyards!
(And in case you were wondering, dual citizenship in the USA and Italy is possible, but not all countries allow for dual citizenship.)
Do you have dual citizenship in a European country? Or ancestors from Europe?
Let us know in the comments below!