As I was putting together my Italian documentation for my research win with Lo Schiavo Genealogica, I noted that one of the other services they provide is helping people apply for US-Italian dual citizenship. So I did a little digging, and it looks like I am eligible for Italian citizenship.
According to Italian Law 91 of February 5, 1992, one can have Italian citizenship by descent or bloodline, known as jus/jure sanguinis.
Following some specific guidelines, and assuming no one renounced
Italian citizenship along the way, many individuals of Italian descent
living elsewhere can have their birth right of Italian citizenship
recognized by proving the direct line of descent.
My paternal great grandfather was born in Italy and immigrated to America in 1889, which is after 1861, when the present-day country of Italy was formed. Once in America, he did not become a naturalized US citizen - he completed an Alien Registration file in 1940, and his death certificate from 1950 showed his citizenship to still be Italian. Therefore my grandfather was born in the US to an Italian citizen, making him a citizen of the US and Italy. And that right of citizenship passes through my grandfather to my father to me.
There are numerous businesses that provide services to put together the paperwork required to have Italian citizenship by descent recognized by the Italian government. Official birth and marriage records for all generations between you and the Italian immigrant, proof of non-citizenship of the Italian immigrant in the new country when descendants were born, translation of all non-Italian records into Italian, and an apostille (a type of legal certification recognized internationally) for each are required as part of the request package. The more generations back to Italy, the more paperwork - there is always red tape!
Citizenship in Italy includes a number of benefits, such as the ability to apply for an Italian passport and travel as a European Union citizen in Europe, access to education and health care, and less hoops to jump through to acquire property in Italy.
There are also potential drawbacks, however. The Department of State has some warnings about dual nationality, including potential law conflicts as well as making it more difficult to protect US citizens abroad, especially when in their other country of citizenship. If you are looking to hold a job that requires a US security clearance, having allegiance to a second country, or worse, actively seeking it, is perhaps not the best move.
So, it is something to consider. Since I currently don't possess the NYC birth and marriage certificates for my grandfather's birth and my great-grandparent's marriage, not to mention the official Swedish birth certificate for my Swedish great-grandmother, it is a moot point for me at the moment. But it is still cool that I *could* claim Italian citizenship.