News

Government will ‘no doubt’ waive immigration rules so Meghan Markle can come to UK to marry Prince Harry, says leading immigration lawyer

By on
42

‘The couple with two British children I am representing at court tomorrow are not so fortunate’

It seems that, despite Dicey’s proclamation, we’re not all equal before the law after all: a leading immigration barrister has said he has “no doubt” the government will waive immigration law rules to facilitate Meghan Markle’s entry to the United Kingdom.

The actress, most famous for her role as a paralegal in Suits, will be marrying the cheekiest royal, Prince Harry, at Windsor Castle in May. Markle, for a number of reasons, isn’t quite your typical royal-to-be. Not only is she mixed race, Catholic and a divorcee, she’s also an American.

Anyone who has tried to immigrate from outside of the European Union into the UK will know visa rules can be tricky to navigate. That’s equally true of rules and evidence requirements surrounding marriage and fiancée visas, which Garden Court Chambers barrister Colin Yeo described to Legal Cheek as “onerous”.

Nicholas Webb, an immigration specialist, penned an article on the Free Movement blog, painstakingly demonstrating these rules and where the impending princess may stumble. While we’re pretty sure the couple will breeze through the financial requirements, the law says: “The relationship between the applicant and their partner must be genuine and subsisting.” On this, blogger Webb comments:

“In this respect our couple have the advantage that the media and paparazzi have already decided this is a genuine relationship. Their public profile means that many of these rules will be easy to meet with evidence. Mere mortals may want to provide their passports, family photographs and evidence they have been visiting each other and remained in contact for the duration of their relationship. Phone records, money transfers and social media can all help with this.”

Another hoop to jump through is that the couple “must intend to live together permanently in the UK”, which may cause a few difficulties given Markle is an actress on American TV. Markle has framed her engagement as a “new chapter” in her life, which could well be in response to this requirement.

And then there’s the rule meaning visa applicants must be able to be supported “without recourse to public funds” — let’s not even get into that one.

So, Yeo, we agree, the rules seem pretty onerous. But that may be of little concern to the newly-engaged actress. Yeo says:

“In principle [Markle] requires leave to enter or remain like any other non-EEA national. However, there is a general discretion conferred on the Secretary of State to grant leave outside the rules, which will no doubt occur here.”

Fair? Yeo doesn’t seem to think so. He continues:

“The couple with two British children I am representing at court tomorrow are not so fortunate. They face exile together or living apart because of the way the immigration rules on spouse income work.”

For all the latest commercial awareness info, and advance notification of Legal Cheek's careers events:

Sign up to the Legal Cheek Hub

42 Comments

Anonymous

VOTE LEAVE

TAKE BACK CONTROL

Anonymous

Get bent you turd.

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

Anonymous

Is that really what you voted for?

Anonymous

Hope you don’t end up anywhere near immigration law. Not talking about the racist comment, just the lack of competence behind it.

Anonymous

Wouldn’t want to be your kind of lawyer if it means losing the basic ability to detect sarcasm!

Baroness Hale of Richmond

In this republican article, Katie King arguably commits the criminal offences of high treason pursuant to the Treason Act 1351 and the Treason Act 1702, and treason felony pursuant to the Treason Felony Act 1848.

The maximum sentence for a prosecution under any one of the three charges would be life imprisonment.

Anonymous

She’s lucky…

Before the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 it would have been gallows time!

Baroness Hale of Richmond

For high treason, yes – not for treason felony. Important distinction for aspiring corporate lawyers to understand.

Jones Day Equity Partner

I don’t see what the problem is – let her in!

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

Anonymous

She is beautiful. Let her in. Go with the nightclub bouncer approach.

Anonymous

It’s the way Ali G suggests.

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

Anonymous

Fit….

Fit…

Wait….!

Back to Slovenia!

Anonymous

One rule for them and one rule for us. Disgusting.

If they waive the requirement, I hope they retrospectively waive the extortionate fees applicants not marrying in to royalty had to pay over the past year. Humanitarian donation that Meghan should make as a start to her new honourable life.

Anonymous

She’s giving up acting to take up Royal duties, so that’s irrelevant.

Anonymous

This is absolute rubbish. My wife is American and, other than the indignity of having to travel to the visa office in Croydon, sorting out her visa has always been pretty painless.

Sorry that your clients have an issue with their income, however, for Miss Markle, I don’t think this will be an onerous hurdle to overcome.

Anonymous

Oh, because your American wife found it easy, of course it is easy for everybody?

Grade A imbecile award of the day goes to ^

Anonymous

This is an article about an American wife…

Grade A imbecile award of the day goes to ^

Anonymous

(A) Just because it talks about an American wife, it does not mean that the rules are different to those with a wife from a different non-EU country.

(B) Even if we limit the discussion to American wives, you may be surprised to realise that not everybody’s application will be quite so easy, both in terms of your individual relationship circumstances and in terms of your and her ability to navigate the application form and process.

Grade A imbecile award of the day goes to ^

Anonymous

Ha you have a wife. What a beta cuck. Love is for pussies

Anonymous

If I was planning to get married, I would have a husband. But such a plan does not currently exist.

Anonymous

Judging by your above comments, that may be out of your hands.

Anonymous

Me and my husband are about to fork out north of £1,000.00 to renew his spouse visa next month. We’ve already spent over £1,000.00 on visa fees for the original spouse visa and will need to spend over £1,000.00 at the end of the next 2.5 yr renewal for his application for indefinite leave to remain. With fees and the mountain of documents we have to provide to support each application, it is rather annoying that only “ordinary people” actual have to deal with this headache!

Anonymous

Totally agree with you.

Due to the backlogs many applicants now have no option but to pay a £600 priority fee when applying these days (just to get their application approved in normal times rather than taking months). Add on the NHS fee too and an original application is nearly £3,000.

It is no wonder so many people end up coming here illegally. This sh*t country deserves as much.

Anonymous

My wife, our two children (3 and 1) and I had to renew our visas this year.

I paid £8,300 in fees alone, to cover the application and the Immigration Health Surcharge.

It would be extraordinary to assume the average person could afford these fees every 2.5 years (yes, visas are now only 30 months).

Whoever suggests that, even outside documentary requirements, this transaction would be easy for ‘most’ people is shockingly deluded and as out of touch with reality as David Cameron was with the price of a loaf of bread.

Anonymous

I agree with you 100%

Anonymous

I just forked out £2965 yesterday to apply for indefinite leave to remain. If I did it by post I would have saved £670. They sometimes don’t answer you for a year hence my payment of the extra £670 for same day morning application. I paid those extortionate fees for years despite paying taxes and national insurance. Even paid NHS surcharge during my previous application. NHS surcharge is £500 for a 30 month visa.

feasel

I have read the underlying article carefully, along with the completely unnecessary Legal Cheek commentary. It seems crystal clear that all of the requirements will comfortably be met.

Talk of “controversy” or “not even get[ing] into that one” regarding recourse to public funds is arrant nonsense. Prince Harry is a multi-millionaire in his own right, having inherited significant sums of money from his mother’s taxed estate.

A non-story about a non-story. Congratulations Legal Cheek. Your vapidity is now recursive.

Anonymous

harry has been hoodwinked

Anonymous

Another immigrant taking a British job, I thought Brexit was meant to stop this?!

Anonymous

Immigrants are on average better than British at doing these jobs.

Anonymous

Can’t wait for Katarina Kaiser and Tommaso Connerino to take over Legal Cheek then.

Home Office Lawyer??

I very much doubt she’ll be given leave outside the rules as it would very much seem that she meets the criteria anyway. I’ve already advised policy clients against a fast track to citizenship unless she is going to take an active role from day one in representing the UK abroad in which case it would be justifiable.

Anonymous

I’m a foreigner who has married a UK citizen and attained two spouse visas subsequently. The process was in no way difficult or onerous. When we married we were asked a few simple questions (when we met etc). Then when applying for visas we were asked for Simple (and easily faked) proof of our cohabitation. So we sent off some utilities from the same address, our children’s birth certificates, passports and tax returns. And for our labours I was rewarded with UK visas. It was simple and easy. If his clients are really finding it so difficult they are either not actually married, convicted criminals or he he is just a really bad lawyer.

Anonymous

Or they don’t meet the financial provisions as is admitted in the article. He is not “a really bad lawyer” but actually one of the best in what can be a very complex area.

Anonymous

If you got your visa before 2012 then it was a much easier process. Now, the financial requirements alone make it very difficult to even qualify. I am American and my British Husband and I have worked for a non-profit and cannot meet the financial requirement and right now live in Germany while we work out a way to meet those requirements and raise the money for the high cost visas so we can live in the uk together.

Not Amused

An article worthy of the Canary.

Anonymous

Cheekiest Royal? There’s no way Harry is cheekier than Philip. That guy’s a joker.

Amused

Top bants.

Anonymous

She’ll bring up the national average to make up for all the fugly’s.

Join the conversation

Related Stories