Posted by: passagetoitaly | October 8, 2009

The Long Road of Retrieving Documents

I’ve decided to post a time line of gathering all the necessary documents so that those of you who are deciding to apply for dual citizenship can have an idea of the length of time. For those of you taking this journey into consideration, do not only think of the length of time, but the expense.

The road begins…

Mid-May 2009 – discover the possibility of dual citizenship after hopes for a “permesso di soggiorno per motivi di lavoro” visa are shattered. My research began with

Tips: Having some general information about the individuals you are researching would be wise. Important information such as birth dates and dates of death, also reduce the stress of your search. If you do not happen to be lucky with having any dates, having just the names will give you results. Any information you can squeeze out of relatives also helps.

Around the same time, I contacted the NARA, the National Archives and Records Administration, to inquire about naturalization records for my great-great grandfather.

June 1, 2009 – wrote letter to the comune of Carrara, Italy.

After having consulted a volunteer from a Heritage Center and discovering that my family was in fact from Carrara, Italy (as in Carrara marble), I decided to write a letter to the comune. Each comune has a website and/or listing for phone numbers and fax numbers. My comune‘s site is in Italian only, so have a person, who speaks and read Italian, handy.

June 9, 2009 – received e-mail of ‘No Records Found’ for my great-great grandfather’s naturalization records.

I quickly e-mailed the kind lady for a letter that stated such. She was very quick to mail it out. I received the paper in 3 days!

Tip: The NARA does not give any certified or stamped copies for a ‘No Records Found’ letter.

June 23 – July 23, 2009 – search came to a halt due to trip to Italy! 🙂

Late August – received many documents from Carrara!!!!Re-sent naturalization records search to USCIS, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

This had to be the best day so far! There was so much information included in the package they sent me.

Late September – received great-great grandfather’s death certificate

October 4, 2009 – Order my great grandmother’s birth certificate from the Archives in NYC. (My second attempt at the search) My grandmother’s death certificate was also ordered from Massachusetts. It’s strange that the funeral home only gave us a photocopy and not an actual copy with a stamp or seal.

Tip: If a search is done, and no document is found, you do not get a refund, even if you have no document. A letter will be sent stating that no document was found and that there will be no refund.

October 17, 2009

Received my grandmother’s death certificate after waiting about 2 weeks for it to be sent from Massachusetts. Upon her death we were only presented with a faxed copy. Now we have a stamped official one!

*Latest Update!* Received letter from USCIS about no naturalization records being found. (This is the biggest hurdle, besides actually waiting for your application to be processed!) I had read on the Italian Citizenship site that I refer to that it was taking many request up to 1 year to receive a response. That’s just for them to locate the document. Not including having to then submit more paperwork to receive a copy!

I received mine in a little less than 3 months!



  1. When did your GGGF arrive in the US and when was your GGF born? Even if you have No Record letters from USCIS and NARA, the consulate may still give you a hard time if your ancestor arrived at a time when naturalization record-keeping was spotty.

    • My GGGF arrived in here in 1893. Some census records say 1895, but that’s not possible because my GGF was born in 1894. All applicants who receive a ‘No Records Found’ must check the USCIS, the NARA, and the county courts to verify whether the individual did indeed become a citizen or not. I have even researched my GGGGF. I found a naturalization index card and it states that his naturalization date was Oct. 25, 1899. My GGGF was a witness, but nothing has been found for him. On a later census taken in 1920, it states that my GGGGF was an Alien, not a citizen. I am however applying through my GGGF so my GGGGF’s status doesn’t really matter.

  2. Actually, your GGG-GF’s status could matter, but fortunately in your case it probably doesn’t: When your GGG-GF naturalized in 1899, if your GG-GF had been a minor (under 21) he would’ve automatically lost his Italian citizenship. Moreover, your G-GF would’ve also then lost his Italian citizenship, too. But it seems that your GG-GF was already an adult in 1899, since your G-GF had been born 5 years earlier (unless your GG-GF was 15 when he had a kid).

    Then thing you have to worry about now is, if your GG-GF naturalized before 1912, your G-GF, being under 21, would’ve lost his citizenship. Even if you have No Record letters from the courts, USCIS, and NARA, the consulate may give a hard time since record keeping before 1905 was poor.

    • My GGGGF’s status does not matter because my GGGF was already 26 by the time the whole family came here. He was also already married (married in Italy). My starting point is from my GGGF. I am unfortunately well aware of the possible problems that may arise from him not having naturalized, and also versus what the census says from 1920. But even if everything doesn’t work out, I won’t regret anything, as I’ve learned a lot of things about my family. 🙂

      Thanks very much for your input on all this!

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