Statelessness Determination in Italy

If you are stateless – you do not hold a nationality because you are not considered a national by any State, you have the right to apply for stateless status determination in Italy.  

In case you are a stateless asylum seeker or a stateless refugee, even if you already benefit from a form of international protection, it is important that you also seek stateless status determination. Such protection may cease in the future but you may still do not hold any nationality and need assistance and protection as a stateless person. 

In case you need more information on the statelessness determination procedures in Italy, help to obtain qualified legal support, or advice on access to rights and services as a stateless person, feel free to contact UNHCR MCO-Italy or Tavolo Apolidia, a network of NGOs and experts working on statelessness in Italy facilitated by UNHCR. 

Neither UNHCR or the member organizations of Tavolo Apolidia take money for any services. Their help is always free of charge. You should not be asked, at any point, to pay for any of the services provided. 

How to seek stateless status determination in Italy?

You need to be in Italy to file a stateless status determination application. It is not possible to apply for statelessness determination if you are outside of the country. Two alternative procedures are available, and you can apply for either procedure, without having to complete one procedure before starting another: 

  • Administrative procedure 
  • Judicial procedure (before the Court) 

You can only apply to the administrative procedure if you have a birth certificate, a valid residence permit and registered residence in Italy. The administrative procedure is free of charge. 

There are no access requirements for the judicial procedure, and you can apply even you don’t have a valid residence permit. In order to seek stateless status determination before the Court you must be assisted by a lawyer. The judicial procedure has a 259 EUR fee. If you don’t have enough money to pay for a lawyer, you can apply for State funded legal aid, which, if granted, would cover both the fee of the lawyer and the cost of the procedure. 

For more information on the statelessness determination procedures in Italy, please visit: 

Which documentation is needed and in which language?

Applications for both procedures must be submitted in Italian. You should also submit all the relevant documentation, including pertinent nationality laws, translated and certified into Italian.  

If you apply to the administrative procedure you will not be interviewed, therefore it is vitally important that you retrieve and submit all the available documentation that can prove that you are not considered a national by any State. These include, but are not limited to: birth certificate, applicable nationality law(s), identity documents/passports (even if expired), consular declarations and other documentation issued by foreign authorities, etc. 

If you apply to the judicial procedure, you may ask for a hearing before the judge as well as for the hearing of witnesses. Even if you request a hearing, it is important to submit all of the available documentary evidence to support your application. 

Stateless persons may find it difficult to retrieve relevant supporting documentation. In these cases, you may want to seek qualified legal support in order to obtain assistance for the preliminary steps prior to filing the application for statelessness determination. 

Please visit the website of Tavolo Apolidia for more information on the proceduresrequests for legal advice or support and for a list of nationality laws translated and certified into Italian 

What happens after I apply for stateless status determination?

If you applied through the administrative procedure, the Ministry of Interior may at one point make a request for additional documentary evidence. You should respond to the Ministry’s request, otherwise your application may be initially placed on hold and subsequently dismissed. 

Under the judicial procedure, your lawyer will inform you on the date of the first and then possible successive hearings. In case you made a request to be heard, or for the hearing of witnesses, the judge will evaluate the admissibility of such requests and eventually set a date for the hearings. 

Pending the finalization of the procedure, you are not entitled to accommodation in the reception system (i.e. access to free shelter) and you are not automatically issued with a residence permit. If you applied through the judicial procedure, you may ask the judge to order the issuance of a residence permit pending the procedure, but the outcome may vary. 

Where do I get legal support?

Statelessness entails complex legal matters, therefore you are advised to seek and rely only on qualified legal support. 

UNHCR MCO-Italy and Tavolo Apolidia are available to assist for a preliminary analysis of the situation of stateless persons and persons at risk of statelessness and to support you in finding qualified legal support. 

Who will decide on my application and when do I get the decision?

If you applied through the administrative procedure, the authority in charge to determine statelessness is the Ministry of Interior, Department for Civil Liberties and Immigration. The length of the procedure may vary, on average the procedure takes 2 to 3 years. 

If you are seeking stateless status determination before a Court, the presiding judge will decide on your application. The length of the judicial procedure may vary according to the competent Court, generally it lasts 1 to 2 years on average. 

What if I get a positive decision?

Once you obtain a positive decision granting stateless status, irrespective of the procedure you applied through, you can ask for the issuance of a residence permit on statelessness groundsThis residence permit, usually lasting 2 or 5 years, provides access to rights and services and entitles you to work, access the national health system and seek naturalization after 5 years. Moreover, upon stateless status recognition you can apply for a Travel Document for stateless persons. 

What if i get a negative decision?

In case of negative decision, either from the administrative or the judicial procedure, you may file an appeal before the Court. In order to do so, you need to be represented by a lawyer. If you lack adequate financial means, you are entitled to apply for State funded legal aid. 

Children born to stateless parents or parents who cannot transmit their nationality?

Children born in Italy to stateless parents are entitled to Italian nationality at birth. If both parents are stateless and the child is born in Italy, you should provide proof of stateless status determination at birth registration and ask for the child to be recorded in the citizen’s register. 

Similarly, if neither of the parents can transmit their nationality to the child born in Italy, the child acquires Italian nationality at birth. Also in this case, you should provide proof that the child cannot acquire the nationality of either of the parents at birth registration and ask that the child is recorded in the citizen’s register.  

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