The applicable law to the maximum time limit set for Italian authorities to handle Italian citizenship applications by marriage has changed a number of times in the past few years.
Which term applies to your application?
For applications submitted from 21.12.2020, the deadline is 24 months, extendable to 36 months (art.4 c. 5 and 6 of Law Decree of October 21st, 2020 np. 130 amending Article 9 ter or the Italian Nationality Act).
LEGGE 5 febbraio 1992, n. 91: Nuove norme sulla cittadinanza
1. Il termine di definizione dei procedimenti di cui agli articoli 5 e 9 e’ fissato in ventiquattro mesi prorogabili fino al massimo di trentasei mesi dalla data di presentazione della domanda.
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 Ministry of the Interior maintains that the 48 months deadline still applies.
Please note that these deadlines apply to procedures of Italian citizenship by marriage (i.e. if your spouse or same-sex registered partner is an Italian citizen), or by residence in Italy. That is the meaning of the language of the law quoted above, and particularly of the reference to Articles 5 and 9 of the Italian Nationality Act. These deadlines do not apply to the procedures of Italian citizenship by origin from an Italian-born ancestor.
An arguable interpretation of the law
The 4-year provision should not apply to the applications submitted before October 5th, 2018. That is because the provision which extended the 4-year deadline for applications was deleted and replaced in October 2020 (by Article 4, §5 of Law Decree 130/2020).
As a consequence, the previous 24-month deadline applies.
The main reference in the law for the duration of the Italian citizenship process is Article 3 of the President of the Republic Decree of April 18th, 1994 entitled “Regulation concerning the process for acquiring the Italian citizenship”. It stipulates that the deadline to conclude a citizenship process is 730 days.
DECRETO DEL PRESIDENTE DELLA REPUBBLICA 18 aprile 1994, n. 362, “Regolamento recante disciplina dei procedimenti di acquisto della cittadinanza italiana”
Art. 3, Definizione del procedimento
1. Per quanto previsto dagli articoli 2 e 4 della legge 7 agosto 1990, n. 241, il termine per la definizione dei procedimenti di cui al presente regolamento è di settecentotrenta giorni dalla data di presentazione della domanda.”
However, the Ministry still maintains that even applications submitted before October 5th, 2018 are subject to the long 4-years handling time. That gave origin to recent disputes before the Italian Courts (October 2021). The judgements are still very few but recognise that the applicable deadline is still 730 days.
Such encouraging decisions did not change the behavior of the Ministry of the Interior so far, but with time, such change will be an unavoidable consequence.
You may not be aware that your application may already have been processed
The Ministry has been insisting for almost a year now that they will send any formal communication concerning the application exclusively through the online application platform.
As a consequence, you may not receive any notification of a decision on your application by email, or through the Italian Consulate, or by registered mail.
It is crucial to access the online platform. Any communication on your application appears on said Ministry’s online platform and can be subject to a tight deadline for you to reply.
For example, if the Ministry regards your paperwork as insufficient, they will send a message on the online platform with a term of 10 days for you to reply. In case you do not reply, they will archive your application and invite you to start a new application, in case you have any further observations or documents to add.
Any As you probably know, access is currently granted via the new SPID system (Sistema Pubblico di Identità Digitale). If you do not have one, you will be required to make a new registration in order to link and access your existing application.
What you can do
It’s a fact that active applicants get decisions faster. Don’t accept to be put on a shelf: let your voice be heard! Express your mind and urge the office to respect your right to a timely and clear decision on your application.
If you applied for citizenship by marriage, please refer to my blog article Italian citizenship by marriage. How to cut the waiting time? for details.
From that page, you can also request the free form to send to the Italian administration and urge for a decision on your application.
For more information:
When in doubt, ask us. Contact us
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