(Information updated on August 5th, 2023)
Question: What does the law say? Answer:
For those who submitted their Italian citizenship applications from December 21, 2020, the set processing time is 24 months (Article 4 §5 and §6 of Law Decree of October 21st, 2020 no.130 amending Article 9 ter or the Italian Nationality Act in English). This period, however, can be extended to 36 months under certain conditions.
Why the possible extension? There could be situations where the officer responsible for your application needs additional information to proceed. In such instances, you’ll receive a notification explaining that your application process has been put on hold and detailing the reasons why.
However, it’s important to note that this suspension isn’t indefinite. The law limits the halt to a maximum of 12 months. Hence, the entire application process – from the start to the final decision – can’t exceed a total of 36 months. By the end of this period, you can expect a final resolution on your application.
For applications submitted between October 5th, 2018 and December 20th, 2020, the maximum handling time is 48 months, according to Law Decree of October 4th, 2018 no. 113.
For applications submitted before October 5th, 2018, the application deadline is 24 months. That is because the provision which extended the 4-year deadline to those applications was deleted and replaced in October 2020 (by Article 4, §5 of Law Decree 130/2020). However, the Ministry of the Interior insists that the maximum handling is still 48 months (see more information in our blog “Italian citizenship in 4 years?”).
Q: Why does it take such a long time?
A: Are you wondering why the Italian citizenship application process can take up to 36 months? So did we. We’ve had extensive discussions with central offices in Rome, where the Italian Ministry of the Interior processes applications from spouses and partners residing outside Italy.
Beginning in the late 1990s, we’ve interacted with several Italian Consulates worldwide and interviewed officers at various levels to get a better understanding of the situation. The most common explanation we received from these offices was quite simple: “Applications have increased over time, and we are understaffed”.
But digging a little deeper, we found the root of the delays is not just a question of increasing applications or staff shortages. The main issue is the administration’s inability to effectively handle the surge in demand.
Several advocates, including ourselves, are championing the need for increased investment and improved coordination among different administrative bodies. The crux of the problem isn’t the rising number of legitimate applications, but rather the way the administration responds to it.
Ultimately, the delay is the result of political choices designed to restrict access to Italian citizenship and administrative shortcomings. Until these issues are addressed, applicants may need to be prepared for lengthy processing times.
Q: Ok, I understand the problem. But how do I cut the waiting time?
A: My advice is to TAKE ACTION: don’t forget your application in the drawers of an Italian office.
First and foremost, it’s important to take control of your application process.
Yes, there are administrative procedures and timelines, but your level of engagement can also make a notable difference. Don’t let your application become another forgotten file in the labyrinth of an Italian administrative office. We have seen this happen all too often in our 20+ years of experience in both public offices and private law practices. Our experience consistently suggests that applicants who stay actively involved tend to get decisions faster.
But what does being ‘active’ really mean in this context?
Stay Connected: The Italian Ministry of Interior has emphasized the shift towards digitalization. Consequently, they have been insisting for nearly a year now that all official communications related to the application will be handled exclusively through the online application platform. Of course, you will receive an email notification as soon as the officer in charge will post a communication for you on the online platfor. However, sometimes those notifications don’t reach the applicant.
That is because sometimes the email notifcations end up in the spam folder of the inbox, or the applicant forgets to check the inbox of the email account that they wrote on their citizenship application, or that account ceases to work and the apåpplicant doesn’t notice, or possibly the Italian administration has a glitch in the system and fails to send the email notification in the first place. You will not receive any registered mail through the Italian Consulate. For these reasons, it is necessary to check the online platform for updates (in the section: Comunicazioni).
Respond Promptly: This online platform isn’t just for updates; it’s also the official channel for any required correspondence regarding your application. You may need to provide additional information or documents, and these requests will appear on the Ministry’s online platform. There could be tight deadlines for you to respond. For instance, if the Ministry finds your paperwork incomplete or insufficient, they’ll send a message on the platform giving you a 10-day window to reply. If you miss this deadline, they will archive your application. You’ll then have to start a new application if you have additional documents or comments. Therefore, regular checks and timely responses are crucial to avoid unnecessary delays.
Our experienced team can offer support beyond simply assisting with your application submission. We can act as a vital communication bridge between you and the Italian offices in charge of your application, providing you with regular updates throughout the process.
By entrusting us with your application, you’re putting it in expert hands, experienced in navigating the often complex world of Italian citizenship applications. We can help maximize your chances of success while aiming to secure your citizenship in the shortest possible timeframe.
Together, we can make this journey more efficient, less stressful, and ultimately successful.
You are welcome to contact us for more information
Q. How FAST can it go?
It’s vital to understand what you, as an applicant, can rightfully demand, and what obligations the administrative offices handling your application have.
The Italian Consulates and the central offices in Rome are legally obligated to organize their efforts efficiently to ensure that your application is processed within the defined 24-month period. Indeed, it’s possible they may even deliver a final decision before this deadline, and you’re fully within your rights to encourage them to do so.
However, you should note that the recently amended law doesn’t obligate these offices to finalize your application before the 24-month mark. As a result, you don’t have a legal right to insist on a final decision before the completion of this period.
Given this, it’s prudent to align your expectations with these legal terms. It’s natural to desire a speedy resolution, but it’s equally important to comprehend the legal parameters governing the citizenship application process.
Q: What can you do NOW to speed up my application process?
Here’s a piece of seemingly simple, yet significant advice: Don’t wait! This might sound like a given, but the long timeline of the citizenship process can often catch applicants off guard. Time flies, life unfolds with its own rhythm of joys and sorrows, and it’s easy for the citizenship process to drift to the back of your mind.
However, remember this crucial point: you can play an active role in potentially reducing the waiting time by taking action before the 24 months expire. It’s about proactive involvement rather than passive waiting.
So, what’s the strategy? It’s all about anticipation. Engage with the office handling your application, draw their attention to your case, and keep the momentum of your application going.
From my years of experience, I’ve developed a tried-and-tested approach to help minimize delays and maximize your chances of a successful application. This strategy emphasizes proactive communication, timely responses, and a commitment to keeping your application in the spotlight.
Remember, while the application process might be long, your actions can influence the pace. So, don’t just wait, act!
Take the following 3 steps:
- Locate your Application Manager
- Communicate effectively!
- Use the right TOOL and activate your process (FORM)
STEP #1: Contact your Application Manager.
Maintaining contact with your Application Manager, rather than others, for updates and responses to communications is crucial. This person is your primary point of contact, intimately involved with the details of your application, and most equipped to assist you through the process. Understanding and utilizing this resource is a key part of successfully navigating the path to Italian citizenship.
Italy’s legislative framework stipulates strict guidelines governing the functioning of all administrative offices, including those overseeing the citizenship application process. This regulation comes from the Law on Administrative Process, enacted on August 7, 1990, as law number 241.
These rules apply in full to the Italian citizenship application process. In line with these guidelines, you should receive a letter introducing your Application Manager, detailing their contact information and clarifying your rights throughout the process. In legal parlance, this individual is referred to as the “Responsabile del Procedimento“.
STEP #2: Communicate effectively
Italian law bestows certain responsibilities upon the Application Manager that you should be aware of to effectively navigate the communication process. After all, nobody wants to spend their precious time only to encounter bureaucratic roadblocks, right?
Italian Consulates can indeed fulfill their obligations to provide general information through their websites, even by linking to other official resources. This means they might not respond to emails or phone calls inquiring about information readily available online.
So, how can you ensure productive contact with your Application Manager and get the answers you seek? The law offers different ways for you to get the answers you need. It even gives you ways to make the Application Manager speed up their decision if they’re taking too long.
There are specific instruments designed to enforce decision-making, which we’ll delve into on this site. However, right now, it’s essential to remember the:
Golden Rule: Each tool is only effective if the previous one has failed. So, you must initiate contact with the basic, yet crucial, first tool before escalating to other strategies. This progression is something every Italian lawyer is well-versed in. If you engage a lawyer to expedite your citizenship process, they’ll need to start with this initial tool. If you’ve already deployed it, you can bypass this step and move directly to the next stage. This approach saves you time, money, and energy, all characteristics of a savvy, soon-to-be dual citizen!
The basic tool is a specific type of letter, known as a SOLLECITO, sent to the Application Manager before activating any other tool. Consider it the first step on your proactive journey to Italian citizenship.
STEP # 3: Use the right tool
‘Sollecito’, translated as ‘Urging Notice’, is a unique form of communication intended specifically for interactions with Italian administrative offices. It’s a focused message that includes only the essential facts and uses formal Italian phrasing to encourage a decision regarding your application. Furthermore, it serves as a reminder to the office to fulfill its legal obligations and provides relevant legal references.
The good news is, you don’t need a lawyer to use this tool. With some straightforward guidelines in English, you can utilize this ‘Sollecito’ on your own. Just request the FREE template below. This form is designed specifically to accelerate the process of citizenship by marriage. I’ve used this approach successfully for several years, and now, it’s available for you to use with ease.
All you need to do is fill in your details and application number in the provided spaces, following the English directions in Italics. Don’t forget to attach a copy of your passport. Finally, sign the letter and send it off. Voila! You’ve taken a proactive step in your citizenship journey!
Are you interested? Just let me know by the form below. We send the form automatically by email to anyone who requests it.
Free Sollecito Form
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