Meghan's Decision to Move to Canada Could Affect Her Application to Obtain British Citizenship

Published January 12th, 2020 - 10:36 GMT
Royal memorabilia featuring Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex is displayed for sale in a store near Buckingham Palace in London on January 10, 2020. Prince Harry's wife Meghan has returned to Canada following the couple's bombshell announcement that they were quitting their frontline royal duties, it emerged Friday, as the monarch held urgent talks with her family to resolve the crisis. DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP
Royal memorabilia featuring Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex is displayed for sale in a store near Buckingham Palace in London on January 10, 2020. Prince Harry's wife Meghan has returned to Canada following the couple's bombshell announcement that they were quitting their frontline royal duties, it emerged Friday, as the monarch held urgent talks with her family to resolve the crisis. DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP
Highlights
A royal aide said there was no change to the Duchess's British application. 

Meghan Markle's decision to move to Canada could affect her application to obtain British citizenship under Home Office rules.

The US-born Duchess of Sussex would be required to prove she has not spent more than 270 days outside the UK in the three years leading up to the day her application is formally lodged. 

She is believed to have started the application process after her engagement to Prince Harry in November 2017. 

Kensington Palace said at the time she would be treated like anyone else. And Prince Harry's communication's secretary, Jason Knauf, added that the Duchess would be 'compliant with immigration requirements at all times'. 

Last night, however, immigration lawyers said the Home Office had 'absolute discretion' - and that Meghan's legal team would be able to argue the unique nature of her application, the Sunday Telegraph reported. 

Sophie Barrett-Brown, senior partner and head of UK practice at Laura Devine Immigration, added: 'One would anticipate that there would be some strong arguments that could be made when representing a person in these circumstances.'

A royal aide said there was no change to the Duchess's British application. 

Meghan flew to Canada a few days ago, where she spent an extended festive break with Harry and baby son Archie in the province of British Columbia. 

The announcement that the Sussexes plan to spend more time together in North America and quit their frontline royal duties has sent shockwaves around the world.

Harry will join Meghan in Canada as early as next weekend – giving rise to fears that they may never return to live in the UK.

The couple have been living in a luxury £10.7million property on Vancouver Island. Archie was left there with his nanny and Meghan's best friend, Toronto-based stylist Jessica Mulroney, and her family while the Sussexes flew back to London together last Monday. 

There are a number of ways you can apply for citizenship, but it is likely that Meghan is applying as a spouse of a British citizen. 

If someone comes to the country as the fiancee of a British citizen, they must marry within six months, which the Duchess achieved after marrying Harry in May 2018.

Before a foreigner comes into the UK as the spouse of a British citizen on a family visa, they must submit a range of evidence to prove their relationship is real.

This includes email and phone conversations, holiday photos and flight tickets.

After living in the UK for three years, a spouse can then apply for citizenship providing you have either indefinite leave to remain, settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme or a permanent residence document.

You then have to take a test with questions on life in the UK, which costs £50, to attain citizenship.

Potential citizens also have to prove they have knowledge of English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic and be of good character.

You must also not have spent more than 270 days outside the UK during the three years before the application.

Guidance on the Government's website states: 'You should not have spent more than 270 days outside the UK during the three years before your application [or] spent more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months.' 

However, the Home Office dictates people may be exempt from the residency requirements if your partner works abroad either for the UK government or an organisation closely linked to government, which may apply to the Duchess.

It costs £1,330 to apply to become a British citizen.

This article has been adapted from its original source.    


© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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