Following the exciting news of Prince Harry’s engagement to Miss Meghan Markle the question of her visa and right to remain in the UK has been called into question. Technically anyone from outside the EEA is required to obtain a visa to be able to live in the UK. One would assume that Miss Markle, a US citizen, would also be expected to obtain a visa to enter and live in the UK. The Kensington Palace communications secretary, Jason Knauf, confirmed this stating that “Meghan Markle will be compliant with all immigration requirements at all times” and that she “intends to become a UK citizen”.
In their interview on Monday, Miss Markle and Prince Harry discussed that their relationship has been long distance until now; as such one would assume that Miss Markle has been traveling to the UK to see Prince Harry as a visitor. However, in order for Miss Markle to move to the UK, she will be required to obtain a visa.
If Miss Markle is intending to move to the UK now, she will have to apply for entry clearance as a fiancée or obtain a special visitor visa for marriage. Both are valid for up to six months. As Miss Markle and Prince Harry have said that they intend to get married in the spring of 2018, either of these could be sufficient. If Miss Markle obtains entry clearance as a fiancée she will be permitted, once married, to switch in-country and obtain leave to remain in the UK as the spouse of a British national under Appendix FM of the UK Immigration Rules. If she obtained a special visitor visa for marriage, she will need to go back to the country of her residence to submit further entry clearance application as the spouse of a British national and once this is approved, she can then come back to live in the UK.
Assuming that Miss Markle satisfies all of the requirements at the time, she should be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain (“settled status”) after spending 5 years in the UK as Prince Harry’s spouse. This is contrary to the information supplied in The Times today, where it was stated that she would be eligible to apply for settled status after 3 years. Once she has gained settled status, Miss Markle would be eligible to apply for naturalisation and a British passport, assuming that she is not absent from the UK for more than 90 days in the last twelve months of her stay and 270 days during the last three years of her residence in the UK.
Since Miss Markle is a national of the USA, a majority English speaking country, she will not be required to evidence her knowledge of the English language, but she will still have to complete the Life in the UK test as part of her application for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
As a leading firm in the field of immigration, Gherson has dealt with numerous cases of non-EEA citizens obtaining spousal visas over the last 29 years. Should you require a spousal visa or wish to discuss any of your immigration issues please contact us.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.