Making it easier for immigrants to obtain Italian citizenship is one of the new governments priorities. The minister of the interior Giuliano Amato has promised a reform of the present laws, and government officials have started consultations with the Council for Islam in Italy to discuss these issues.

At present it is relatively easy to gain citizenship if a person has an Italian parent, but much more difficult to obtain it on the grounds of being born in Italy to non-Italian parents.

For the latter, the request can only be made at the age of 18 and the applicant has to demonstrate almost uninterrupted residence in Italy to proceed with the citizenship application.

The current immigration laws (established in 1992) make it obligatory for non-EU members to reside in Italy for ten years before presenting their request for citizenship, only three years for European citizens, four years for foreigners with Italian ancestry and five years for refugees.

Some proposals now up for discussion would like to see automatic citizenship for all children born in Italy. Others are more cautious, suggesting that a regular period of legal residence in the country should be necessary before citizenship can be granted.