As Italian Americans, many of our Italian ancestors came to this country decades ago or even at the turn of the century.
Because of this, the original naturalization records of our grandparents and great grandparents have often been lost to time. Though it may seem difficult to find your ancestor's naturalization records in order to prove your eligibility for Italian citizenship, there are a number of places you can and should look.
Fortunately, these places are staffed by knowledgeable people who do an excellent job of searching the records. They have experience in dealing with people seeking older documents, and are an excellent resource.
1. The USCIS in Washington D.C. (http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis). This Office can provide a Certificate of Naturalization or a certification of nonexistence of a specific record.
2. Court County in which he resided and in which his child was born. It can also provide the Certificate of Naturalization.
3. The USCIS Genealogy Program, in Washington, DC (www.uscis.gov/genealogy). This office can send you a copy of your ancestor’s certificate or alien registration card, which must be supported by a County or NARA record, because USCIS will only release a certified copy to the person who received citizenship.
4. The National Archives in Washington, DC (www.nara.gov). This office collects documents from all over the United States: you could obtain a certified copy of your ancestor’s “petition for naturalization” and “oath of allegiance” from the National Archives. Documents from NARA must be certified copies, bearing the red ribbon and gold seal of NARA. If no record is found, they should issue a letter stating this.
5. The Regional Office of the National Archives. This office keeps Federal documents related to the States in their area of jurisdiction. You can also obtain a certified copy of your ancestor’s “petition for naturalization” and “oath of allegiance”. Documents from NARA must be certified copies, bearing the red ribbon and gold seal of NARA. If the Research shows NO RECORD, NARA can issue the alien registration card.
6. Census record. It may provide additional information relevant to your case even if based on the information provided by the individual: Immigration Records, Naturalization Records, Ship Passenger Lists, Military records, the U.S. Passport applications, Voter List Records and others (www.census.org). Ask for the first U.S. Census dated after the birth of the Italian-born ascendant’s child.
Audra de Falco is a certified freelance Italian, Spanish and French translator and interpreter. She loves writing about the profession and dual Italian citizenship. Her free time is spent mostly learning Dutch, reading and exploring New York. Contact.