So, because Meghan Markle found the right Brit, she gets citizenship instantly? Not fair.
Okay, so I don’t like Meghan Markle and I don’t see why the whole world is so obsessed with her and what she does and what she wears. Before you get all judgy at my judging, I do acknowledge that my feelings of dislike for her might stem from something petty, but I feel like I make some valid points. So please bear with me.
I am an American and I had the fortune to live in London. Getting to London was a pain in the ass, and by that I mean I spent about two months fighting with the UK gov site trying to get a student visa, calling the UK-based number the website provides, which has massive wait-times to speak to a rep and ended up costing me a fortune in long-distance fees. Finally, it got to a point where I had been waiting for the British consulate to return my passport for over a month so I just camped out in the lobby for about four hours until they finally handed it over, with a visa inside.
But the nature of visas is temporary, and one day it expired. Now without student status, I tried everything I could think of to qualify for a work visa, to no avail. I was booted back to America.
So you can imagine the annoyance I felt when Prince Harry decided to marry an American girl and bestow British citizenship upon her. “Shit,” I thought. “I fell in love with the wrong Englishman.”
Meghan Markle is not the first American to marry a Brit—international relationships are everywhere. Why do Royals get to have such an easier time with this immigration bullshit? (Side note: I’ve read that the Queen doesn’t even need a passport, but I didn’t fact-check that.) Do you know what it’s like for non-royalty to try to live in the same country as their beloved? For those of you without an immigration lawyer saved in your contacts, I’ll fill you in. Fasten your seatbelts, kiddos. This road is about to get bumpy.
If Meghan and Harry weren’t royalty and wanted to get married in the UK, Meghan would need to first apply for a marriage visitor visa, then wait three months before she could travel to the UK. They’d need to alert the authorities 28 days before tying the knot, and she’d have to be in the country for at least a week before that big day. It isn’t terribly convenient for couples who hold jobs on different continents, but the whole process only costs about £93.
But here’s the kicker: Meghan couldn’t stay in the UK for more than six months. Once she is married to Harry, she could then apply for a spouse visa. The thing about the spouse visa is that Harry would need to be able to financially support Meghan—clearly an easy feat for royalty, but you can see where the difficulties would come in for common folk. Also, to be eligible for a spouse visa within the UK, the couple has to have lived together for two years, something that very few international couples are able to achieve.
Wedding in the US is a different story, involving a 13-page petition form Meghan would have to fill out that basically says, “Hey, I want to marry this man. Can he please apply for a visa?” That’s right—these 13 pages aren’t even the visa application. Once Meghan has shared all of her family information and Harry’s family information and all of the addresses the two have each resided at for the last five years, she could then pay cool $535 processing fee and send her form to Texas. And then Meghan and Harry wait for an indefinite amount of time for approval on the petition before Harry can apply for his K-1 fiancé visa from within the UK.
Harry could only remain in the US for 90 days on the K-1 visa, but once the pair got married, he could apply for his green card and become a resident. Fun fact: the green card costs almost a thousand dollars.
So now you must be thinking, “Well they could get married in the UK since it’s so easy and then Harry could get a green card to the US.” That would just be way too easy, wouldn’t it?
If the pair got married in the UK, Meghan would then need to fill out a petition for an alien relative form before Harry could put in his green card application. Sound familiar? The American government just LOVES lengthy petition forms. There’s no going around them. So if they say their I-dos in the US on a K-1 visa, that already would make Harry eligible to apply for a green card.
Back in November when the blushing bride and royal prince announced their engagement, Kensington Palace said that Meghan would still need to go through the typical requirements of earning residency and eventually citizenship after three years. So on one hand, it is true that even Royals don’t live above these immigration steps, but on the other hand, I’m sure Meghan and Harry had a much easier time with all of it. I highly doubt that either of them ever for a moment worried about whether their petitions would be accepted or wondered how long it would be before they could live in the same country.
At the risk of sounding like a child, it’s not fair.