Despite been given the title of 'Duchess of Sussex' following her marriage to Prince Harry in 2018, Meghan Markle is still in the process of receiving her British citizenship.
While we’re not entirely sure she really needs it, it’s now possible that Meghan Markle’s British citizenship is at risk following #Megxit. Or, her citizenship acceptance form that is.
Turns out, the Duchess of Sussex was still in the process of receiving her British passport before all of this royal drama reached its height. Which means, even if you marry into the family and become a literal Duchess, it still doesn’t exempt you from all that official immigration paperwork. To her credit, however, Meghan was fully compliant with the UK’s bureaucratic regulations—until now.
Just days after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their decision to "step back" from their roles as "senior members" of the royal family, the Duchess returned to Canada to be with her son, Archie. A perfectly reasonable decision to us mere mortals but it seems that Meghan’s relocation to Canada caused a potential threat to her bid for citizenship. And it all comes down to some finicky fine print:
In order to become a British citizen, applicants must live for a minimum of five years in the UK, with most of that time spent on British soil. This translates to roughly no more than 270 days in the past three years, or 90 days in the previous month, outside of the country. But how does this affect for Meghan?
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Well despite being married to a man who happens to be sixth in line to the British throne or the fact that her role requires her to travel, Buckingham Palace has always stressed she would not get preferential treatment in the process meaning this rule applies even in the Duchess’ case.
“She may quickly run into trouble when calculating her permissible absences from the UK,” said an article in Free Movement, a website set up by immigration lawyer Colin Yeo.
“She is going to be at the top end of that,” immigration lawyer Philip Trott told the paper. “There is no harm in being out, as long as you spend most of your time here. The advice we normally give to clients is that most of your time means six months and one day every year,” said Trott.
One solution would be if Harry landed a diplomatic role overseas — such as governor-general of Canada — which would make all their time abroad count the same as being home in Britain. That is unlikely to fit with their stated goals for more financial independence, however.
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