Why does getting Italian citizenship by marriage take so long?

Italian Embassies an Consular offices abroad are chronically understaffed and overworked, and in many cases the employees who are in charge of citizenship applications are also in charge of other services (e.g.: notary services, marriage, birth and death registrations and certifications, etc.).
That led in some cases to a backlog that could have taken up years to clear. For this reason on May 18th, 2015 new regulations came into force which allowed applicants to submit their application and scanned copies of the supporting documents directly on-line through the web portal of the Italian Ministry of the Interior (http://www.interno.gov.it/it/tem…). That will avoid the need to make repeated trips (and booking appointments) to the Consular officer in charge, who will review the application and the submitted documentation on line and will either accept the application or suspend it pending the submission of documents who were either incomplete or missing .
Only when the documentation will be reviewed and the application approved, the applicant will be summoned to the Consular office to bring the original documents and sign an affidavit there.
The application will be then processed not at the Consular Office, but at the Department of Civil Rights, Minorities and Citizenship of the Italian Ministry of the Interior, which must grant or reject the application within 720 days (two years) from the on-line submission date.
If 720 days pass by without a definite reply from the Ministry, then citizenship is granted to the applicant by default.

Audra deFalco Audra deFalco, who has a Dual citizen of both the U.S. and Italy says

Consulates generally take a slow time because they’re dealing with a number of things: Italian citizens who get in trouble abroad, issuing and revoking passports, issuing student visas, helping Italian citizens, etc. Also, your Italian documents will have to go back and forth from the US to Italy which in and of itself takes time.

Also… keep in mind: Italy practically invented bureaucracy! Good luck. And for more info on obtaining Italian citizenship, please visit Get Italian Citizenship.

James Gosling

Aah the great Italian citizenship. I am about to start the same process myself.

Regarding why it takes so long, it’s pretty simple, everything in Italy takes a ridiculous amount of time and you need a ridiculous amount of paperwork to do anything.

I have already lost 4 months just worrying about the long list of paperwork I need to get in order to complete my citizenship. It then has to go through a large number of different institutes to get verified and this inevitably takes a huge amount of time.

I highly doubt there is a way to speed it up. If you have children then the citizenship with marriage is actually cut down to 1 year which is quite useful. The reason this is quicker is because all the paperwork is handled locally and doesn’t have to go to Rome. I am going to be using that method but it is still an incredibly long time!

I’d say that for them, it’s probably a low priority activity which is handled with a high number of other things they have to do. So they probably get around to the citizenship documents whenever they can, which is why it takes so long.

In my experience consulates have very little to do with the delay. Their part in the procedure is minimal and for the most part it cannot be blamed for the length of the procedure.

Italian bureaucracy gives itself 720 days for an answer, which is already significative by itself. When you applied, a reference number was supposed to be given to you, by this number the process can be monitored. There are few status, I believe 4 or 5, checking it, you could discover that moving from status 1 to 2, takes more than a year, whereas the other few steps move “rapidly” in few months. That is basically the queue, unfortunately coming your application from a consulate, I was told (but I cannot find a document saying that), it is given low priority. To accelerate a little the process, you can technically send a “diffida” after a month of a new status (or at least this is what it is said on specialised forums), reducing the procedure to one year. In my experience the “diffida” coincided with last two months of waiting.

You should look the bright side instead. Marrying an Italian gives you immediately a temporary permit for living in the country and all of the EU. After 1 to 3 years, you can already apply for citizenship, without even know the language or having lived in Italy. You are not required to give up your original nationality. You just need to pay a total of 120 euro and provide a couple of translations. Everything can be done in an hospitable consulate.

I can compare it with Russia. Marrying a Russian doesn’t give you immediately a temporary permit for living in the country let alone in the Eurasian community. You need to pass 4 exam of Russian language oral and written, Russian history and law. You need to have certificates for illnesses and addictions from 3 different Russian hospitals and finally a recent penal history. You are require to stay personally in an insane queue for hours to get a number for the real queue that at least in Moscow is of 2 months, during which the certificates can expire.

And this is just to get a 3 years temporary permit, it takes 6 months to be ready, and during this 6 months the person is required to attain two 3-months visa, in a Russian consulate outside of Russia, to stay in Russia.

After that, being sure of having had a job during the 3 years, and never spending more than 180 days a year outside of Russia, an identical procedure is to be followed to get a 5 years permit.

After that, if willing to renounce the own nationality, an identical procedure for Russian citizenship can be started.

For starters, Italian bureacracy is dreadfully slow. Having said this, do bear in mind that concession of citizenship is a very low priority issue: related files are therefore permanently “placed on the back burner”…

“The consulate” is a bit vague: are we talking about a place staffed with foreign ministry employees, an honorary consulate or a “one man band” station in the middle of nowhere ? Theoretically a “general consulate” should be quicker in processing files.

Practically speaking much depends on the employees attitude to work (absenteeism and/or inproductivity is rife in many, even major, stations).

Spouses origin (EU or non EU) also makes a great difference.

Finally, applications are often rejected due to attached documentation not being exactly as required (and the latitude in interpretation of documents used by the individual who is processing your file).

2 years is the norm but if there’s a hiccup along the way thing can become much longer.

The positive side of owning an Italian passport is that, apparently, it is the passport that provides the world’s highest number of “no visa required” destinations.

In my experience, it is always faster to retain legal counsel in Italy to deal with any lineage or marriage citizenship claim. You therefore have to do the cost vs. speed of processing analysis to determine if this is the appropriate path for you.