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The Bureaucracy To Get Dual Citizenship

Getting dual citizenship is something that has been in high demand for the past years. The reasons are many; some people want to move to a new country or to be able to travel with fewer restrictions, others want it for their jobs, and there are also the ones who start the process to feel closer to the country where their ancestors were born.

However, it’s not simple. Many documents need to be found — which can be quite expensive — and the process usually takes years to be finished, no matter the country you’re looking for.

Sofia Valim is a special case. Her processes were faster than it usually is; it took around 8 months for her to get her Italian citizenship, which was only possible because her father already had it, but she says that “if my father didn’t have the citizenship, it would have taken over four years to get mine”. Sofia is a journalism student who plans to work with fashion, therefore, having dual citizenship can open many doors for her in the future, especially the Italian one.

It might seem easy, but it’s not
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Italian citizenship is not very difficult to get, and that’s why many Brazilians with Italian ancestry go through the process to get it since you only need to have an Italian ancestor and be able to prove that. But even though there aren’t many restrictions, many documents are needed to prove that you are actually related to an Italian immigrant — the most important one being the birth certificate of the Italian ancestor — and these documents are not always easy to find.

A problem that some families face when applying for citizenship is name changes. When the immigrants arrived in Brazil and registered their kids, many mistakes were made on their last names, which makes it harder to get Italian citizenship and sometimes requires name corrections. That was the case with Anna Casiraghi’s family — during the process, her whole family had to change their last names in all documents.

But even though the process was long and difficult, Anna believes that getting dual citizenship is worth it — it’s something that she wanted since she was a kid. “I always had a lot of contact with the culture. I have never been to Italy, but it was always very present to me. I am who I am today because I was raised in the Italian molds” she says. And becoming Italian will make it easier for her to visit the country where her family came from.

Izabella Gianolla also went through the process to become Italian. in her case, it took about three years to get her citizenship. She decided to do so because her family on her mother’s side already had it. She also says: “I always wanted to leave the country; I think there are many opportunities out there”.

Izabella’s process to get dual citizenship was longer, especially because of all the bureaucracy involving many documents and their translation from Portuguese to Italian. “I don’t live with my parents, so I had to get many documents from my dad, and my mom lives in another state, so she had to come to São Paulo to do the whole process”, she says.

Different country, different rules

The Lebanese citizenship is somewhat tricky to get since it depends on the government in place and it can only be recovered by male ancestors, which is the case with Samirah Fakhouri — both her grandparents are Lebanese. She says: “my grandfather came from Lebanon when he was eighteen years old during a war, and he never went back”, so she wanted to get to know her family who was still there. Her reasons to get Lebanese citizenship were mostly sentimental, so when the opportunity to get it came, she decided to take it.

To get her citizenship she started talking to the Lebanon consulate in 2020 through a religious man that helps in this type of process. After a while, he put her in contact with the consulate and she started to find the necessary documents. During this step, she had to change her grandmother’s name — “she was registered in Lebanon with a different name, in her Brazilian documents it was ‘Edna’, and in Lebanon, it was ‘Dunia’”, and the process to correct those names took some time.

Samirah doesn’t have her citizenship yet, it’s still being analyzed in Lebanon, and since last October she doesn’t have any news about how the process is going. Although she doesn’t plan on moving there, she would really like to know the country where her family came from.

Even with all the differences, a common issue amongst all the countries is the bureaucracy behind the process to get dual citizenship. Some are more difficult than others, but in the end, none of them is easy. The number of necessary documents and the time that the whole process takes can make many people give up. But something else that is common to all the people who try to get dual citizenship is the opportunity to get to know the place their family came from and maybe, someday, go back and start a life there.

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The article above was edited by Bárbara Vetos.

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Mariana Torezan

Casper Libero '24

Brazilian journalism student at Cásper Líbero who loves movies, TV series and all kinds of books.
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