Meghan Markle won't be a British citizen for a few years - here's why

  • 4 months   ago
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Any American Anglophile who’s thought about moving to the UK can tell you getting a visa is not easy.

Even if you’re engaged or married to a British person, a visa is not a given. For one thing, there are hefty financial requirements involved. And for another, even if you’re able to come into the country as a British citizen’s fiancée, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re allowed to work or hold a job.


You might think Meghan Markle was able to skirt these requirements, due to her marrying a man who happens to be sixth in line to the British throne. But Meghan had to jump through the same hoops as any other American marrying into a British visa.

Prince Harry’s communications secretary, Jason Knauf, let the world know the newly minted Duchess wasn’t getting any special treatment throughout the visa process. As reported by the BBC, Knauf said she’d be "compliant with immigration requirements at all times."

"I can also say she intends to become a UK citizen and will go through the process of that, which some of you may know takes a number of years," he added.

Markle will also have to apply for "indefinite leave to remain" status in the UK and keep that status for at least 12 months before she can become a British citizen, according to TranferWise

All Americans marrying a Brit need to meet stringent financial requirements in order to get a visa.

A British person who wants to bring a non-British or non-EU citizen into the country as their spouse must either prove a combined income is £18,600 (over $24,000) or prove they have £16,000 (or $20,982) in the bank, according to the UK government’s website.

The requirements increase by several thousand pounds for every child you may have at the time of applying for the visa.

This financial component probably wasn’t an issue for the moneyed Duke and Duchess of Sussex, but for many other happy couples, it can be a major setback.

If she wasn’t American, she would’ve had to prove proficiency in English.

Meghan Markle did not have to take the English-language proficiency test.Pool/Getty Images

This is one area in which Americans have a leg up on many other countries. Anyone applying for a British visa must take an English-language proficiency test, unless they’re from the European Union; one of the Commonwealth Nations that are formerly part of the British Empire; or the US.

Because Meghan is an American citizen, she was exempt from this test.

She couldn’t stay in the UK for more than six months at a time before applying for the visa.

Meghan Markle had to consistently go back to the US.REUTERS/Mark Blinch

Before you apply for a British visa, you’re not allowed to stay in the UK for more than six months and you’re not allowed to do any work there unless you’ve acquired a work visa.

Meghan did stay with Harry in the UK for several months at a time, but she never stayed longer than six months. And she was careful not to complete any work while she was there.

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