What is Meghan Markle’s route to becoming a British citizen?
As the date of the eagerly anticipated royal wedding approaches – 19 May 2018 for those who have forgotten – discussions have turned to Meghan Markle’s route to becoming a British citizen.
Becoming a spouse of a British citizen
Meghan could apply for a spousal visa as a fiancée of a British citizen. To do this she will need to apply from outside the UK. She will not have much difficulty proving Prince Harry is a British citizen, but she will still need to tick this box when applying for the visa. A certified copy of his passport will suffice. Meghan’s American passport is proof that she meets the good knowledge of English requirement and she is unlikely to have any difficulty proving that she is able to support herself financially. The couple will also need to prove that they are engaged and will marry within six months of Meghan’s arrival in the UK on the spousal visa. Importantly, as a divorcée, Meghan will also need to provide proof that her previous marriage has ended.
If Meghan already has another visa and the conditions allow it, she could instead switch to a spousal visa after she marries.
If Meghan applies as Prince Harry’s fiancée, her visa will last for six months. Once married, she will need to apply to stay as the spouse of a British citizen and can do this from within the UK. Under a spousal visa, she will be allowed to stay in the UK for an initial period of two and a half years and will then need to apply to extend her stay.
Indefinite leave to remain (ILR)
Once she has lived in the UK continuously for five years as Harry’s wife, Meghan could apply for “indefinite leave to remain” (ILR) i.e. to settle in the UK in line with the usual requirements. Any time she spent in the UK as his fiancée will not count towards this five-year requirement.
To naturalise and become a British citizen, Meghan will need to have been granted ILR and to have complied with the strict rules on the number of days spent outside of the UK. This may mean that she will have to limit her overseas royal engagements.
However, this route may not be the best option for the future princess if she wants to work before her marriage. Whilst staying in the UK on this visa as a fiancée, Meghan will not be able to work and would instead have to wait until she obtained a spousal visa, which would permit her to do so.
Applying for a Tier 1 Investor Visa
Alternatively, Meghan could consider applying for a Tier 1 Investor visa. Under this visa, she can apply to settle earlier than five years (depending on how much money she invests) and, perhaps more importantly, she will be able to work whilst she is here. The minimum Meghan will need to invest is £2 million and this must in be invested in UK government bonds or trading UK registered companies. She will need to prove that this money belongs to either her or to Prince Harry and that the money is in a regulated financial institution and free to spend in the UK.
If Meghan were to invest £10 million, she could apply to settle after two years in the UK. Were she to invest £5 million, she could apply to settle after three years in the UK. However much she invests, Meghan will still need to have lived in the UK for three years before she can apply to become a British citizen.
Our only other tip for Meghan is that she must remember that, unlike on the wedding invitations, her applications must use her real name: Rachel Meghan Markle.
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