Brexit Britains EU vote sparks surge in Italian passport appli

In the last couple of weeks, our Italian Citizenship & Immigration Group has received a ten-fold increase of enquiries as Italian citizenship now seen as more desirable in light of Brexit vote to leave the European Union.

 Key points:

  • UK Officials play down urgency of applying for EU country passports
  • Brexit’s effects will come into effect for at least another 24 months
  • EU passport holders have a number of automatic rights in EU states

“We have noted a remarkable increase in new enquiries, mainly from second generation British citizens of Italian descent – says Brendan Dine, Head of Client Relations at Giambrone - which has triggered a surge in applications for Italian passports, which would allow their holders to remain EU citizens”

A demand for Polish and Irish passports has also been reported in the UK following Brexit. The rush for Irish passports was so great at one stage that the Irish Government urged Briton to hold off applying over fears processing systems were under threat of too much pressure.

On 23 June 2016, Britain voted in a referendum by 52 per cent to 48 per cent to leave the 28-nation EU, whose citizens enjoy free movement rights. They can also seek employment in other EU states without the need for a work permit, use public healthcare facilities across the bloc and benefit from welfare and other rights.

The process of Britain actually leaving the bloc is expected to take at least two years, and will only start when London formally triggers the Article 50 of the EU's 2007 Lisbon Treaty.

Italian citizenship is currently regulated by Law no. 91/1992, which, in contrast with previous laws, reassesses the importance of an individual's intention in the acquisition or loss of citizenship and recognises the right to hold more than one citizenship simultaneously.

The three main routes to obtaining Italian citizenship are either by descent, marriage or naturalization.

  • Italian citizenship is based upon the principal of jure sanguinis (blood right), meaning the child born of an Italian father or mother is also an Italian citizen. Up until January 1 1948, It was not possible for an Italian mother to transfer Italian citizenship to her child. However, the Italian Supreme Court recently ruled that this provision was contrary to the constitutional principles and, more precisely, to the principle of equality between the sexes. Accordingly, children born by an Italian mother before 1948 may also be eligible for citizenship. However, an Italian bloodline is not in itself sufficient grounds for claiming Italian citizenship – a foreigner with Italian origin is eligible to apply for Italian citizenship only if he/she was born before the naturalization of his/her father/mother.
  • Italian citizenship may be obtained by marriage to an Italian. This is an actual right of all spouses and can only be denied to those who have a criminal record for a serious crime committed either in or outside of Italy. It can also be denied to those who are considered a threat to the national security and public order. After marrying an Italian citizen, certain requirements must be met under Italian law, for instance, a legal residency in Italy for a period of at least two years, or three years if the spouses are living abroad. Moreover, the marriage must subsist throughout the process of application for citizenship. Fortunately, there is no requirement to speak Italian or to pass any tests, unlike for instance, the UK, where a foreign spouse must pass the "Life in the UK" and English language tests.
  • A non-EU citizen having legally resided in Italy for ten years may apply for Italian citizenship and a EU citizen after four years. A foreigner with native-born Italian parents or grandparents who have lost their citizenship and therefore unable to pass citizenship on, is entitled to apply after three years of legal residency in Italy.

For more information please contact clientservices@giambronelaw.com or telephone +44(0)20 7183 9482