My Daughter's Quest for Italian Dual Citizenship
Denise Cambs – DeWitt, New York
May 20, 2014
It’s been almost one (1) year to the day, since I first found Nicola Colella and his Italiamerica.org website on the internet. I am from Upstate New York and at the time, my 21 year old daughter Morgan was preparing to graduate from Drama conservatory in the United Kingdom. After four (4) years of study in Cardiff, Morgan had adopted the United Kingdom as her spiritual second home; and her dream was to sign with an Agent and pursue work as a professional actress in London.
Both my maternal and paternal grandparents emigrated from Italy to the United States, but they died long before I was born; and with my parents both also being gone, I didn’t know much of the specifics of my family history. I was also under the mistaken impression that because my immigrant grandparents were Morgan’s great-grandparents, the relationship was too far attenuated to be of any help to Morgan.
Boy, did I turn out to be wrong!
Nicola’s website – www.italiamerica.org – was easy to navigate, and after answering the organized questions on the homepage to help determine whether Morgan (and eventually me!) might quality for dual US-Italian citizenship jure sanguinis, there was a ray of hope that Morgan might actually qualify. I remember it was May 28th, 2013 when I sent my first introductory email to Nicola asking for assistance.
Not only did Nicola promptly respond – initially by email and then by telephone – but from Day One he and his highly qualified team took a personal interest in Morgan’s dual citizenship application, guiding us along the way and providing all the required original documents from Italy, and translations for American documents in record time.
Everyone other than Nicola told me that it would be impossible to complete Morgan’s dual US-Italian citizenship application in eight (8) short months … but as a mother who loves her child more than life, and who always encouraged Morgan (and all of my children!) to pursue their dreams, I refused to take “no” for an answer ... And Nicola believed right along with me, guiding and helping me along the way.
The gods were definitely watching over us, as miracle after small miracle occurred in the application process. We were told it could take up to a year to schedule an appointment with the Italian Consulate in London where she was legaly living.
By some miracle, Morgan was able to schedule an appointment with the Italian Consulate in London for July 19th – less than 8 weeks from my first encounter with Nicola. A second miracle occurred when, with proper documentation and after making some cogent arguments, we confirmed that Morgan’s dual US-Italian citizenship application would be accepted for filing in London, because Morgan was sufficiently able to document her status as a UK resident after four (4) years of living independently in Cardiff.
With Nicola’s capable guidance, and his willingness to provide all document translations on an expedited basis, and with the tremendous help of my friend who accompanied me to New York City not once, but twice, to personally retrieve exemplified original birth, marriage and death records for my maternal grandparents and parents (as well as my own original birth certificate from New York City), we were able to compile all required documents to complete Morgan’s dual citizenship application in record time.
On July 19th – the date of Morgan’s appointment in London – there were some scary moments as the interviewer (according to Morgan) was quite stern, refused to speak English and seemed intent on denying Morgan’s application at the outset. Nicola’s translations were flawless, however, and Morgan’s presentation was organized and earnest. Once the interviewer realized that Morgan had put quite a lot of effort into the process (and admittedly, after a few tears on Morgan’s part), the interviewer seemed to warm-up to Morgan (and her boyfriend Andy); and by the end of the interview, (again less than 8 weeks after first encountering Nicola on the internet), Morgan’s application was accepted for filing in London.
On January 21st, Morgan received an email from the Italian Consulate in London, written in Italian, which seemed to convey the wonderful news that her Italian citizenship application had been processed and that she would be recognized shortly as an Italian citizen by descent. Nicola confirmed this by translating the email for Morgan. With some investigative prodding by Nicola and his willingness to contact the Province in Italy which would issue Morgan’s Italian birth certificate, Morgan received her Italian birth certificate on January 28th – eight (8) months to the day from the beginning of our journey.
On January 30th, 2014, Morgan retrieved her EU Passport from the Italian Consulate in London – after they joked and told Morgan she had to first sing the Italian Anthem before they would release her EU passport!
None of this would have happened without Nicola’s guidance and expertise, and the assistance of his daughter Cynthia Colella who completed the initial genealogical research and confirmed Morgan’s eligibility for Italian citizenship jure sanguinis.
Now, ours is admittedly an unusual story, and not everyone will be able to complete their dual citizenship application in eight (8) short months. Morgan was able to expedite her application and shave months off the process by legitimately qualifying to file with the Italian Consulate in London where she was actually living, rather than her home state of New York. Plus, she had a little “Mom magic” on her side.
Had Morgan been forced to file her dual citizenship application in New York, she would have just had her first appointment last Friday, May 17th – the waiting list for appointments in that long!
So, here is my advice to anyone who is even considering the idea of applying for dual US-Italian citizenship:
1. There is a lot of mis-information out there on the Internet. Listen to Nicola, and only to Nicola.
2. Be respectful of the application process and take it seriously. I am convinced that Morgan’s application was accepted for filing in London because: (1) her application papers were presented in an binder, neatly tabbed and organized by generational level to make it easier for the Consulate to review; and (2) Nicola’s translations were FLAWLESS and worth every penny.
3. Listen to Nicola, and only to Nicola.
4. If your ancestral documents originate in New York City, consider traveling to New York to order and retrieve the documents in person. New York’s City Hall for Marriage records, the Archives Record Room (for records issued before a certain date), and the Department of Health (for birth and death records) are all within easy walking distance of each other. The Courthouse where documents are exemplified (and where they film Law & Order SVU!) is literally steps away; and the Department of State on William Street (where documents are Apostilled) is an easy 5 block walk. So plan to make a day of it. Given the time sensitive nature of Morgan’s application, my friend and I drove 5 hours to NYC, spending the night so we could get an early morning start and have the entire next day to gather all of the original documents needed to complete Morgan’s application, and having them exemplified and Apostilled – all in New York City. It was exhausting (and expensive because the documents cost quite a lot!), but we returned with all but 2 of the documents needed to complete Morgan’s application in record time, which was better than waiting for applications to process by mail.
5. Listen to Nicola, and only to Nicola.
6. Review all original documents with Nicola and identify any discrepancies which could cause your dual citizenship application to be rejected. In my case, my father whom I’d always known as “Henry” was actually born “Alberto Enrico”, according to his birth certificate. My mother, who always maintained that her middle name was “Theresa”, was actually given the birth name of “Antonia” – who knew? With Nicola’s capable guidance, we identified all discrepancies in the documents so I could create an Affidavit to explain the discrepancies, which Nicola’s team then translated to Italian (once again, in record time).
7. Listen to Nicola, and only to Nicola.
It was unbelievable to me that Nicola – whom I never met in person but whom I gradually came to know through our internet communications on Morgan’s behalf – took such a vested, personal interest in Morgan’s dual US Italian citizenship application. He shared my concern over every obstacle encountered, helped me to work through it, and finally celebrated the unbelievable good news of Morgan’s dual citizenship status and issuance of her EU passport, as though Morgan was his own child.
Finally, there is something to be said about the power of a mother’s love; and the persistence and faith a mother has in never giving up on her child … but Nicola was right there beside me (virtually, anyway), every step of the way.
The end of the story: Morgan moved from Cardiff to London in December 2013, where she signed with a terrific Agent for live stage, television and voice-over work. Just days after getting her EU Passport in-hand, she booked her first national voice-over commercial for Barbie; and more recently, she booked a featured role in an animated childrens’ television series that was just picked-up by NBC Universal.
Morgan lives in Central London with her lovely boyfriend Andy; and she is thrilled to be able to live (and work!) in the United Kingdom permanently and without any restrictions.
As for me, together with my two (2) older sons who reside in New York, we have appointments scheduled next month with the Italian Consulate in New York City to submit our own dual citizenship applications – once again with Nicola’s capable assistance. Unlike Morgan, my sons and I waited close to a year for our citizenship appointments with the Italian consulate; but we are told that because Morgan has already been granted dual citizenship status and has been issued an Italian birth certificate, our applications should not take as long to process.
I am thrilled to be able to honor my Italian heritage and share it with my children … my boys recognize that having an EU Passport will literally open new worlds to them, whether for educational or professional purposes.
Morgan and I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Nicola Colella and his highly qualified team. I would recommend Nicola and Italiamerica.org without exception; and I have given Nicola permission to release my email privately to anyone who is interested in receiving additional information, or who has questions about the dual US-Italian Citizenship application process.
Denise Cambs – DeWitt, New York
Morgan Cambs – London, United Kingdom
Morgan at the Italian Consulate in London on January 30th 2014 the date her EU Passport was issued
Morgan’s professional headshot
Morgan & Andy in New York
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