Make sure your ancestor is really Italian
We need to remember that Italy emerged as a unified country in 1861. Thus, to be considered Italian your ancestor must have lived in unified Italy.
In short, your ancestor who immigrated to Brazil must have died after March 17, 1861. If he came from Veneto, he must have died after October 22, 1866 (for he was not born Italian, but died Italian). If he came from Trent, he must necessarily be deceased after 1920.
Check the birthplace of the Italian
It is also important to know the birthplace of your ancestor. Some regions – now Italian – have been under foreign domination for many years. The most well-known case is Trento, which was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until 1919. Only immigrants who left this region after July 16, 1920, that is, if their ascendant was born in that region and immigrated to the Brazil before July 16, 1920, so he arrived here as Austrian – not “Italian” – which prevents the recognition of citizenship by his descendants.
Italian citizenship in the maternal line
This is the best known of the exceptions, the so-called “maternal line.” The term was popularized for the descendants of Italian women and it was spread the maxim that the “descendants of Italian women do not have right to Italian citizenship”.
But, is this true?
Until 01/01/1948 (date of entry into force of the Italian Constitution) the law provided that women did not transmit their own citizenship to their children.
In this way, the children of Italian women (or descendants) married to foreigners received only the nationality of the father or the place where they were born (ius solis system, as is the case of Brazil).
This discriminatory rule ended with the Italian Constitution of 1948 and all women began to transmit their own nationality to their children.
In conclusion: If there is a woman in your ancestry line, you need to check her child’s birth date. If it was before 1948, the right was not transmitted; if he/she was
born after 1948, the Italian woman transmitted the citizenship to the child.
Important tip: if you fall into this exceptional case, do not despair! It is possible to file a court application in the Italian court to acquire the right of recognition. Jurisprudence has already been formed in favor of the descendants and there is precedent of the Italian Constitutional Court.
The Italian can not have become naturalized Brazilian
Italians who have naturalized Brazilians have lost their Italian citizenship and therefore can not pass it on to the descendants born after naturalization.