Preparing for the Move to Portugal

What Makes a Dual Citizen?

I am officially a dual citizen (USA/Italy)!

This started back in early September of 2018. My sister, Alecia Ramsey, called me up one night and told me something fascinating. While she was doing some genealogy research, she discovered that we might actually be Italian citizens by Italian law.

According to Italian law, those born to an Italian citizen anywhere in the world are Italian citizens at birth. (Jure Sanguinis, which means “by right/virtue of blood”). Here in the USA, citizenship is passed to you if you were born on US soil, or, Jure Soli.

My great-grandfather, Domenico DiCesare, moved to West Virginia from Italy around 1901. He and my great-grandmother Maddalena had 10 children, including my grandfather, Anthony. Anthony begat Henry who begat me. There is no generational limit as long as the original Italian ancestor was alive after 1861 when Italy officially became a nation. There are many other rules pertaining to Italian citizenship by JS, so if you’re interested in learning more, just ask.

Dual Citizen/Italian Since Birth

I have been an Italian citizen since birth. Since the Italian government didn’t know about my existence, I had to present all of the documents dating back to Domenico to prove beyond any doubt that I am a citizen by Italian law. This process is long and somewhat expensive. Once I found out I could do this, I scheduled my appointment at the Detroit consulate, which took a year. I needed that time to gather all of the birth/death/marriage/divorce records ($$$) of my Italian line with their spouses. I also needed apostilles (official authentications, $$$) and translations ($$$) to Italian. Search the Dual U.S.-Italian Citizenship Facebook page for help in knowing what steps to take to be recognized as Italian.

I had my appointment to present my documents on October 10, 2019. I didn’t quite have everything right, so the consulate officer gave me “homework.” I completed and submitted it by mail in January 2020. Only one of my adult children wanted to do this (Bradley Chesery). He joined my application by mail with the consulate officer’s approval in December 2020. Each application cost 300 Euro.

The wait time is supposed to take no more than 2 years by Italian law, but Covid changed that. Each consulate in the USA has different wait times, and Detroit has a wait time of apparently 32 months. Your address determines the consulate you use. I live in Tennessee so I am assigned to the Detroit consulate.

Italy Recognizes Me!

Today is finally the day I received my email notification that I have officially been recognized as an Italian citizen. My documents will be forwarded to the city hall of the town where Domenico last lived – Pratola Peligna in the Abruzzo region of Italy. Once my documents have been filed there, I can obtain my Italian passport. It only takes a couple of weeks for the documents to be transcribed in Pratola Peligna. The passport system is booked through September anyway, so I scheduled my passport appointment for October 3rd. This is just about 4 years after I started this whole process.

Moving to Portugal as a Dual Citizen

Some of you may be wondering what good could possibly come from being a dual citizen and having a second passport. I have plans. My sister and her daughter are moving to Portugal next month on a D7 visa while they wait for their Italian citizenship to be recognized by the New York consulate, but I don’t have that luxury. A D7 visa is basically a retirement visa that requires passive income to move there, which I don’t have. I will need to wait for my Italian passport, which makes me a European Union citizen and gives me the right to live and work in any of the 27 EU countries. It also allows my spouse and minor children the same rights, even if they are not EU citizens.

Angie could have become an Italian citizen by marriage if she could pass the Italian language test at the B1 level (intermediate). This was way too much work in a short period of time while living in an area where nobody speaks it. Since she doesn’t need it to move there with me, she won’t get it. She does, however, plan to learn Portuguese and then after living there for five years, naturalize as a Portuguese citizen. I plan to do that, too. We will have that adventure together.

The timeline to move to Portugal is hopefully going to be late October or early November. Alecia will already be there and will have our place ready to move in. We are moving into the upstairs section of the apartment that she already has rented.

Until Then…

Until then, I will keep on truckin’ and Angie will keep on taking care of the home front and Benjamin. There is so much to do and stuff to get rid of. We plan to move there with 2 suitcases each with a carry-on bag, and our dog, Possum in a carrier. It’s going to be challenging, but I am excited for this opportunity to experience life on a different side of the world.


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