More than 300,000 immigrants may apply for Italian citizenship under new law
28 September 2006
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Under a new government draft law easing Italy's strict citizenship laws, approximately 331,000 immigrants could apply to become Italian, a newly released study says. According to the survey carried out by the Foundation ISMU (a research centre on multiethnicity) for the Italian social solidarity ministry, 53% of potential applicants are men.
The cabinet approved the draft law in August which significantly eases Italy's citizenship laws.
Most are from Morocco (20%) followed by Albanians (12%) and Filipinos (7%). 44% of potential applicants graduated from high school and 18% graduated from college.
Under the reform, immigrants residing in the country for at least five years can apply for citizenship - halving the wait from today's 10 years. The children of immigrants who are born in Italy can automatically become citizens, while under current legislation they can only apply once they turn 18.
According to the study released on 27 September, 84% of potential applicants have a regular job, 60% have been regularly employed for over five years and 9% are self-described "entrepreneurs." The average salary among those polled was 1,139 euros per month.
Italy, which is home today to 2.5 million legal immigrants, currently has the strictest citizenship legislation in Europe. Italy is also notorious for how Byzantine and confusing their immigration and visa policies are. It takes on average 15 years for an immigrant to become Italian. In Germany, immigrants need about eight years before they can become citizens, three more years than in France and Britain.
Rules are so strict that the number of new Italian citizens has decreased despite a hike in immigration. According to the most recent interior ministry data available, there were approximately 500 new citizens in 2002, compared to 1,800 in 1999, while immigration more than doubled over the same period.
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