We all watched the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on Saturday 19th May. Everything very magical, a fairy tale indeed. The question everyone is asking now is what happens to her visa? Some newspapers have been suggesting that Meghan Markle or HRH the Duchess of Sussex can apply for British Citizenship straight away, others are saying that she can become British in a few years. The point is when and how can she become British.
Well, the first step for the Duchess will be to apply for a spouse visa under the Immigration Rules and she will have to meet all the requirements of Appendix FM to succeed. That is, she will have to demonstrate that she meets the criteria. Unless she is granted a visa which leads to settlement, in her case the spouse visa, she will not be able to apply for British Citizenship later.
And unless she entered the country on a Fiancé visa she will have to return to the USA and apply for entry clearance as the Spouse of a British Person.
Let’s assume she did apply for entry clearance and she was granted a Fiancé visa before entering the UK. She will now have to, like everybody else, demonstrate that: 1. The relationship is genuine. I don’t think she will have any problems with that though. The media has been gathering the evidence for her with all the news and gossip about the couple. They have been updating us with their every move. Besides, on Saturday a lot of people watched the wedding and how passionately she looked at her prince. So, I don’t think the Home Office will have any doubts about the relationship.
The second point is to provide evidence of her husband’s finances. That is, Prince Harry will have to show that he is earning a minimum of £18,600 a year or that he has a minimum of £62,500 in savings to sponsor her. You might be thinking: “Hold on! She was a well-paid and famous actress! Did you not watch her in Suits for crying out loud???” I am sure that she has enough money to sponsor herself! Well, about that. Prince Harry is the Sponsor. It does not matter how much money she has. That means he will have to fulfil the financial requirement. And the documents he will have to provide to evidence that will depend on his employment status, employed or self-employed. If he is employed, he will have to show his salary slips for the past 6 months, together with bank statements and a letter from the employer confirming his employment. If he is self-employed, he will have to provide self-assessment for the past one year with bank statements and taxes paid. If he is not employed or self-employed he will have to rely on his savings. Hands up those who think he will have problems with that!
The next hurdle for the Duchess will be her ability to communicate well in English. Well, she is American and her passport is the evidence that she can communicate well in English. If she was from any other country where English is not the first language she would have to take an English test and obtain a certificate before she could apply.
The last but not the least is the Criminal Record Certificate she will have to get in order to show she has no criminal convictions in her country of origin.
Can the Home Office wave all these requirements if they want to because of Prince Harry’s position? Well, the Home Office can exercise discretion for sure, however I don’t think this will happen. The Duchess has expressed that she does not want or desire any special treatment.
Once her visa is approved she will receive an initial grant of 30 months. She will then apply for the extension of her spouse visa and after 5 years she will be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. After 1 year of holding the indefinite leave to remain will she be able to apply for British naturalisation.
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