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26 September 2006 21:16
Naples, 26 Sept. - Under a new government draft law easing Italy's strict citizenship laws, 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. Most are from Morocco (63 percent) followed by Albanians (24 percent).The cabinet approved the draft law last month which significantly eases Italy's citizenship laws.

Under the reform, immigrants residing in the country for at least five years can apply for citizenship - halving the wait from today's ten years. The children of immigrants who are born in Italy can automatically become citizens while under current legislation they can only apply when they turn 18.

According to the study released on Tuesday, 84 percent of potential applicants have a regular job, 60 percent have been regularly employed for over five years and 9 percent are entrepreneurs. The average salary among those polled was 1,139 euros a month.

Italy, which is home today to 2.5 million legal immigrants, currently has the strictest citizenship legislation in Europe. It takes on average 15 years for an immigrants 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, new citizens in 2002 were around 500 compared to the 1,800 in 1999 while immigration more than doubled over the same period.
26 September 2006 23:45
Berlusconi must be fumigating if indeed these immigrants get citizenships.
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