An equal claim, simultaneously possessed by two nations, to the allegiance of an individual.
This term is frequently perceived as synonymous with dual citizenship, but the latter term encompasses the concept of state and federal citizenship enjoyed by persons who are born or naturalized in the United States.
Under INTERNATIONAL LAW, the determination of citizenship when dual nationality is involved is governed by treaty, an agreement between two or more nations.
A person who possesses dual citizenship generally has the right to "elect," or to choose, the citizenship of one nation over that of another, within the applicable age limit or specified time period. A person could be a U.S. citizen because of his or her birth in the United States and a citizen of a foreign country because his or her immigrant parents returned with their child to their native land. Foreign law could deem the child to be a citizen of the parents' native land, but it cannot divest the child of U.S. citizenship.
Under federal law, a native-born or naturalized U.S. citizen relinquishes his or her U.S. citizenship if the individual procures naturalization in a foreign state through a personal application, or pursuant to an application filed in his or her behalf by a parent, guardian, or duly authorized agent, or through the naturalization of a parent having legal custody. An exception, however, provides that the individual will not lose his or her U.S. citizenship as the consequence of the naturalization of a parent or parents while he or she is under twenty-one years of age, or as the result of a naturalization obtained on his or her behalf while under twenty-one years of age by a parent, guardian, or authorized agent, unless the individual fails to enter the United States to establish a permanent residence prior to the twenty-fifth birthday.
The treaty between the United States and the foreign nation determines whether the individual may maintain the dual citizenship if he or she elects to retain the U.S. citizenship, or may lose his or her foreign citizenship and remain only a U.S. citizen.