The article explores the experience of becoming Italian citizens and by extension European Union (EU) citizens among Albanian migrants in Italy. It analyzes Albanian migrants’ reasons for applying for citizenship, how it affects their status, access to social rights, labor market, and identity. It also focuses on the effects of an EU member state citizenship in the lives, work trajectories, and future prospects for further mobility of these migrants. The empirical data indicate that Albanian migrants have been oriented towards naturalization through which they experience empowerment and agency, and feel more secure to navigate the Italian labor market and society. The awareness of the EU citizenship, among Albanian migrants, as a derivative of the Italian one has increased during the naturalization process mainly as the result of the impact of the economic crisis on the Italian labor market and their position as workers. Italian citizenship, thus, becomes a strategy for further integration and, in case of necessity, of further mobility.
Keywords: Italy, naturalization, EU citizenship, Albanian immigrants, labor market, economic crisis.