On Becoming a Dual Citizen

Alberto and Elena Marchionda Alberto and Elena Marchionda

Earlier this month, I had my long-awaited visit to the Italian Consulate in Detroit as part of my process for applying for Italian Dual Citizenship. I was fortunate to be eligible for citizenship through the help of my family who assisted me immensely throughout this process. I gathered documents and did research on my grandparents, Alberto and Elena Marchionda.

The process was, at times, a nerve-wracking experience, however, since my family had all the original documents, I did not need to order any from Italy. Had I needed to order birth certificates, marriage certificates, or more from Italy, it would have been a much longer, grueling process. I had tremendous support from a Facebook group called Dual Italian Citizenship with over 10,000 members seeking citizenship. The members of the group shared vital tips on preparing for your consulate appointment and what to expect. Some of the members had consulate appointments in the same state as mine and their advice eased my nerves. There are a couple of things to be aware of when you're preparing for your visit to the Italian Consulate.

First, the visit is very business-like and small talk is not always encouraged. Dress the part, make sure your documents are in order and be friendly and polite. I dressed and presented myself as if I was going on a professional job interview.

Second, you should be as detailed as possible and bring EVERYTHING with you; even documents you may think you might not need. You should read through your documents at least a week prior to your appointment. I reviewed my files the night before and found that I was missing a money order. I was lucky that my local bank was still open to perform this transaction. This stress could have been avoided had I looked through my checklist in advance. I also noticed that I was missing an apostilled file. I was lucky that when I went to my appointment, they let me mail in the missing file the following week. I am not positive every consulate is that lenient; so, it is absolutely necessary to triple-check everything.

I used an expandable file and labeled each tab. I created the following tabs: Birth Certificates, Marriage Certificates, Death Certificates, and Naturalization Documents. Lastly, I used a paperclip to put together my U.S. birth certificate, the apostille and the Italian translation and then clearly stored it in the tab with my name on it. That way, it was easy to hand over the correct document when the reviewer asked for it. The reviewer asked for my documents in a specific order. First, he asked for my passport and ID. Next, my ancestors’ documents in order of decent: Grandfather’s Birth certificate from Italy, Grandmother's birth certificate from Italy, their marriage certificate apostille, Death Certificate of Grandfather apostilled. Next, he asked for my ancestors’ naturalization documents: Naturalization certificates and NARA document. Then, my parent’s birth certificates and marriage certificate, apostilled. Finally, he asked me for my birth certificate, apostille and translation, my application forms, and of course, the money order.

Lastly, it's better to be slightly over-prepared than slightly under-prepared. I have four grandparents who were born in Pacentro, Abruzzo and decided to get documentation for all four of them. With the help of my Italian family and very organized Aunts, I was able to obtain the original marriage and birth certificate from their village. My grandparents married in Italy prior to coming to the U.S, which would have made it hard for me to find their marriage certificates had my aunt not held on to them. I feel privileged that my grandparents sacrificed so much to come to the U.S. and it has been nothing short of exciting to learn more about my Italian ancestry. Being recognized as an Italian citizen is an honor that I will proudly respect and cherish for my family (and hopefully future generations to come). I am so appreciative of all the information provided, questions answered and support received from my family and the Dual Citizenship Support Group.