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Will Meghan Markle need a fiancee visa?

Today’s news reports have the engagement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

To be honest, the first thing that I did was to check whether there would be a bank holiday for the wedding, but before I had even finished the search Google was telling me that that was one of the most searched terms.

To be honest, the first thing that I did was to check whether there would be a bank holiday for the wedding, but before I had even finished the search Google was telling me that that was one of the most searched terms.

The second thing I thought, being an immigration solicitor, was whether Miss Markle would need a fiancee visa.

I don’t really follow this type of news, so after a bit of searching, I discovered that Miss Markle is American, therefore being a non-visa national, she would not need a visa to visit, but coming to the UK to marry and then settle is a different question.

Miss Markle will need a fiancee visa
So what will Prince Harry and Miss Markle need to show to have a successful application?

1. Intention to marryMy wife, being the more interested party, has told me that Miss Markle was previously married so let’s hope that she is divorced and free to marry otherwise there may be an issue. However, as one of our recent cases show, not yet being divorced, does not mean that the application is impossible.With regards to the marriage itself, they will have to show that there have been some bookings made. A church, a venue for a reception, guests etc. The question is how much will the proposed royal couple need to show bearing in mind it has been plastered all over the news today and will continue to do so for weeks and months leading up to the big day.

Obviously, the wedding will also have to be imminent, as the visa is only granted for 6 months and one is expected to marry in that time and make an application to remain based on being married to a British citizen.

2. IncomeThe Royal couple will need to show that they have at least £18,600 in annual income before tax. A quick check on Wikipedia reveals that Prince Harry left his military career behind in 2015. Hence he is unemployed! I’m guessing that he does not get paid for all those events he attends so if Prince Harry has no income, then what can they do?

They may have to rely on savings of at least £62,500. Now I’m not sure if Harry has this amount of money in his bank account. If not then maybe his grandmother can delve into the pockets of the Duchy of Lancaster’s substantial assets and gift him some money, but the mount needs to be in his bank account for at least 6 months.

3. AccommodationFor a couple with no children, Prince Harry will have to show that he has at least one bedroom. This may seem easy, “look at Buckingham Palace or Balmoral or Windsor castle!”, but I assume that Prince Harry neither owns or pays rent for these places and if he is relying on third party support then this may be an issue. However, a recent case in the Supreme Court decided that it may be possible for someone like Prince Harry to rely on his grandmother’s help.

Obviously, this blog entry is just using the Royal couple for, a not too serious, analysis of the fiancee rules. However, there is more to the requirements than the 3 points above. For example, I did not know that Prince Harry is not called Harry. So if Prince Harry is written on the application form there maybe an issue.

Finally, this may all be academic. If they will be making a fiancee application I will assume that they will use the Super Premium service, however, I am sure that the HRH can put in a word to Amber Rudd, and naturalise her as a British citizen, under a discretionary application.