Italian Citizenship by Marriage – Jure Matrimonio (JM)
The Administrators have developed the following linked 74 page guide outlining the detailed steps you must take to successfully complete a JM application lodged from the United States. The basics are details below on this page. Dive into the linked PDF for all nitty gritty the details!
Basics: Legal spouses of Italian citizens (i.e. those whose marriage is registered in Italy) are able to become Italian citizens as well. Italy recognizes traditional marriages and also recognizes civil unions for same-sex couples.
How long to wait before applying? You may apply for citizenship by marriage after you have been married to your spouse for three (3) years if living outside of Italy, or two (2) years if living inside Italy. That time is halved if you and your partner have minor children together, to 18 months and 1 year respectively. The waiting period starts from the date of your marriage, not the date of recognition of citizenship for your spouse. So if you and your spouse have been married for 5 years and they just received recognition, you may apply for citizenship immediately provided you meet the other requirements.
Women only: marriage with an Italian man celebrated before April 27th, 1983? See the PDF guide for more details on a special path for you.
Your spouse must be a recognized Italian citizen with your marriage registered in his or her comune in order to start the process.
As of 4 December 2018, with the changes implemented under the Decreto di Sicurezza signed by the Minister of the Interior (colloquially known as the Salvini Decree), all applicants for citizenship by marriage must demonstrate a B1 fluency level in Italian. The level of the language required to reach B1 is in accordance with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. This requirement does NOT apply to JM applications submitted before 4 December 2018.
You must also be able to provide background checks to show you are of “good moral character” to be eligible to apply.
How long to wait after applying? The decreto also modified the amount of time the Ministry of the Interior and Ministry of Foreign Affairs are allotted to process your application. The original length was two (2) years from official receipt of your application and supporting materials. That period is now allowed to take up to four (4) years from the date of official receipt of all material. This change does apply to applications submitted before the Decree took effect (4 December 2018).
UPDATE: On 21 October 2020 the Italian government passed a decree law n. 130/2020, which was then converted into law n. 173/2020 on 18 December 2020. The law makes the processing time for new JM applications twenty-four months, but this can be extended to a maximum of thirty-six months from the date of submission. For applications submitted prior to the conversion of the law, the maximum forty-eight month processing time is still in effect.
Application Status? All applications are processed by the Ministry of the Interior in Rome – the consulate you submitted your paperwork to simply shepherds your documents to Rome and cannot provide you an update on your case.