When Can Meghan Markle Become a British Citizen (and Would She Give Up U.S. Citizenship)?
Meghan Markle may have never even dreamed of living a life outside of the U.S. — but now that she’s a royal, it’s common knowledge that she’s enjoying her luxurious life in London. Though it may seem like she’s belonged in the U.K. since her marriage to Prince Harry in May, the road to becoming a citizen is a lot longer than one day. And a lot more goes in to Meghan becoming a British citizen than anyone could have imagined.
When is Meghan Markle eligible for British citizenship?
Does Meghan receive special treatment when it comes to citizenship eligibility? Jason Knauf, Prince Harry’s communication secretary, told the BBC that Meghan would be treated just like anyone else hoping to live in the U.K. And before citizenship could even be discussed, she had to attain a visa to remain in the country. To do this, Prince Harry had to make a minimum of $20,000 a year or have over $21,000 for her to be eligible — though we can’t imagine that was ever an issue.
Meghan also had to follow all the rules when it came to attaining her visa. This means she likely had to submit evidence that her relationship with Harry was real (this could include photos together, email and text conversations, and other documents). And for outsiders coming to Britain to be with their fiancee, the couple must marry within six months to keep their visa eligibility (which Harry and Meghan did). A family visa lasts two and a half years before it must be renewed.
With a family visa, the BBC notes outsiders must wait five years before they can be permanently granted citizenship, though they can stay in the country with their spouse as long as everything checks out. It may take even longer for Meghan to gain citizenship because she can also only apply if she’s spent less than 270 days outside of the U.K. in the last three years. Considering she was filming her TV show, Suits, in Canada and she lived in the U.S., we’re sure she doesn’t make the cut for this just yet.
As for other citizen requirements, Money says she’ll also have to pass a “Life in the U.K. test,” which includes 24 questions about Britain and takes around 45 minutes. Aside from that, she also can’t have any serious criminal records, she must meet the residency requirements as stated on the government website, she must have proof of permanent residence, and she needs to have been in the U.K. for at least three years.
The one perk of giving up being a U.S. citizen
Duel citizenship is a perk many wish they could have — but is there a chance Meghan could give up being a U.S. citizen altogether? While it seems like there’d be no reason to, the U.S. tax code might be reason enough.
Investopedia explains since Meghan was born in Los Angeles, she has to report her worldwide income to the IRS while living abroad even if she remains in London the rest of her life. And as long as she remains a U.S. citizen, she’ll have to file the Statement of Foreign Financial Assets form with the IRS every year. This means there’s plenty of potential for the IRS to learn a thing or two about the royal family’s money situation as well since Meghan is married to Harry.
So, how can the royal family remove themselves completely from the IRS? Meghan can renounce her U.S. citizenship, though in this case, she’ll still have to report any U.S. source income from her acting gigs to the IRS. And she also would have to pay an exit tax since her net worth is over $2 million.
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