Although there is a wealth of official information on citizenship eligibility, Italian Consulates hardly ever publish information about the rules governing the application process and the rights of the applicant.
The rules are mainly set in the Italian law on administrative procedures – Law of August 7th, 1990 (Legge sul procedimento amministrativo). The main tenets are the following.
Every application has to be followed up by a due process and a decision within a reasonable time;
The reasonable time is 90 days, whenever the concerned head of administration does not state otherwise. For citizenship applications by lineage to be handled by Consulates, the Italian government set a deadline of 730 days(President of the Council of Ministers decree no. 33/2014);
The deadline starts as soon as the applicant submits the request;
each applicant has to obtain a receipt upon submitting the application and information about the officer in charge (Responsabile del procedimento)
The office shall examine the documents and follow up comments and recommendations, in case they have any objections. They shall do so formally, by sending a notice and allowing the applicant a minimum time of 10 days to respond – starting from the date on which the applicant obtained the letter.
This step in the procedure is called “preavviso di rigetto”. The applicant may buy a longer time by replying within the said deadline and giving reasons for the delay (e.g. the local authorities need 2 month time to issue the requested document). During this time, the 2-year term is stayed.
As soon as the objections are overrun, the deadline resumes.
The Consulate will send a copy of the family records to the Italian municipality in which the ancestor was born.
When the municipality confirms the registration, the Consulate will contact the applicant (now an Italian citizen) to enroll in the Register of Italians residing abroad (AIRE) by submitting the application online.
The office shall notify the decision in writing and give detailed reasons both in fact and law. they shall include detailed information on how to challenge it.
When does the deadline start?
The starting date is the date on which the applicant submits the application. According to the Consulates, the starting point in citizenship applications is the date on which the applicant submits the documents and pays the tax (Percezione consolare).
According to the Italian case law, the 2-year deadline starts from the date on which an applicant sends a request for an appointment. The law requires that the administration responds within a reasonable time, albeit in a longer time than usual in consideration of complex application processes. It cannot be left to the power of the Consulate to establish when the process starts.
How does the Consulate contact the applicant?
They should contact the applicant in writing, by registered mail. That is necessary to have proof that the applicant received the letter and on which date. However, many Consulate contact the applicants by email. A simple email will not provide a return receipt, so there is no proof that the applicant actually receives it.
An alternative is to stay in contact with PEC, the Certified Email Protocol in use in Italy that works just life registered mail. Every person can obtain a PEC account. It is inexpensive and practical, offered by several providers in Italy. The available information is mostly in Italian.
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