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Statutes of Liberty: Could Prince Harry Become a US Citizen?

This sponsored column is by James Montana, Esq. and Doran Shemin, Esq., practicing attorneys at Steelyard LLC, an immigration-focused law firm located in Arlington, Virginia. The legal information given here is general in nature. If you want legal advice, contact James for an appointment.

In the past few months, the news outlets have been buzzing with the royal drama surrounding Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

The couple has split from official British royal family duties due to a desire to live a more private life; this may be the biggest royal controversy since Prince Harry’s great-great-uncle Edward abdicated the throne in 1936. For now, it appears that the couple will split their time between North America and the United Kingdom, spending much of their time in Canada.

Given the fact that Meghan Markle is a U.S. citizen, the happy quasi-royals may want to relocate in the United States. A common misconception is that foreign nationals automatically become U.S. citizens if they marry a U.S. citizen. For reasons we have explained elsewhere, using links to Animal House, that simply isn’t so. If Prince Harry wanted to live permanently in the United States, the Duchess would have to go through the formal process of petitioning for the Prince to receive lawful permanent residency (a.k.a. a green card).

After having a green card for at least 3 years, Prince Harry would be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship. But would he? We think not.

One of the first eligibility questions on the naturalization application is “Do you now have, or did you EVER have, a hereditary title or an order of nobility in any foreign country?” The following question states “If you answered “Yes,” are you willing to give up any inherited titles or orders of nobility that you have in a foreign country at your naturalization ceremony?”

While Prince Harry would obviously have to answer “yes” to the first question, he might not be willing to say “yes” to the second. His business interests, never mind his identity, might be rather well served by remaining the Duke of Sussex.

Then, of course, there is Prince Harry’s military service to consider. Prince Harry (“Lt. Wales,” to the squaddies) served two tours in Afghanistan and, in addition to his admirable work as a soldier, has served as an honorary officer in the Royal Air Force, the Royal Marines and the Royal Navy. He would need detailed discharge paperwork from all of these Services.

Other than that, we think Prince Harry wouldn’t have too many difficulties become a U.S. citizen. But, of course, we’d be glad to help him find out. We offer the same reasonable rates, personal service, and careful work to HRHs (and former HRHs) as we do to everyone else.

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