Prince Harry

The Washington Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY AMANDA CO­LETTA AND SIOB­HÁN O’GRADY siob­han.o’[email protected]­

is Bri­tish roy­alty, but Canada, his in­tended new home, is likely to treat him as a com­moner for mi­gra­tion pur­poses.

TORONTO — El­iz­a­beth II holds many ti­tles — among them, Queen of Canada. Cana­di­ans see her face on coins, and the govern­ment says she’s made more royal tours here than in any other Commonweal­th coun­try.

But if her grand­son moves to Canada, he is likely to find him­self fac­ing the coun­try’s im­mi­gra­tion process as a com­moner, like any­one else.

News that Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sus­sex, planned to step back from their royal du­ties and spend at least part of their time in Canada has prompted a ques­tion: How can the pair gain fi­nan­cial in­de­pen­dence in a coun­try where it ap­pears nei­ther has the right to live and work?

“In or­der to be­come le­gal per­ma­nent res­i­dents of Canada, they would need to apply through our nor­mal im­mi­gra­tion pro­cesses,” said Béa­trice Fénelon, a spokes­woman for Canada’s im­mi­gra­tion agency. “How­ever, mem­bers of the royal fam­ily are not re­quired to seek au­tho­riza­tion to come and stay in Canada as vis­i­tors.”

She did not re­spond to ques­tions on whether Harry and Meghan could stay in­def­i­nitely as “vis­i­tors.”

As tourists trav­el­ing on Bri­tish (Harry) or Amer­i­can (Meghan) pass­ports, they could stay in Canada for up to six months, but then they’d be ex­pected to leave. And with­out work per­mits — which can be com­pli­cated to get with­out job of­fers — they would have dif­fi­culty earn­ing a liv­ing.

Much could de­pend on Meghan. She might al­ready have per­ma­nent res­i­dency af­ter work­ing seven years in Toronto as an ac­tor in the USA Net­work le­gal drama “Suits.” If not, she could qual­ify for per­ma­nent res­i­dency un­der a visa pro­gram for peo­ple with ex­pe­ri­ence in an artis­tic, ath­letic or cul­tural field.

If she has per­ma­nent res­i­dency, Meghan could spon­sor Harry through fam­ily spon­sor­ship. If not, she could add Harry as a de­pen­dent on her visa ap­pli­ca­tion.

An­other op­tion would be to apply through an ex­press en­try pro­gram for skilled work­ers.

That pro­gram is based on a points sys­tem, which con­sid­ers work ex­pe­ri­ence, ed­u­ca­tion, age and lan­guage abil­ity. Ap­pli­cants be­gin los­ing points af­ter their 30th birthdays, so Meghan, 38, and Harry, 35, would do well to get their ap­pli­ca­tion in as soon as pos­si­ble.

A prob­lem for the prince: He went straight from Eton Col­lege to of­fi­cer train­ing at the Royal Mil­i­tary Acad­emy Sand­hurst, so he doesn’t earn higher-ed­u­ca­tion points.

Au­drey Mack­lin, a law pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Toronto, has “no doubt” the cou­ple could se­cure per­ma­nent res­i­dency if they planned to live in Canada over the long term. They could even re­quest it on hu­man­i­tar­ian or com­pas­sion­ate grounds — a route avail­able to for­eign­ers work­ing on tem­po­rary per­mits or asy­lum seek­ers who have main­tained solid work records in Canada.

But Har­jit Grewal, an im­mi­gra­tion con­sul­tant with Ster­ling Im­mi­gra­tion in Lon­don, warned that a hu­man­i­tar­ian claim by the wealthy roy­als could be greeted with hos­til­ity.

The op­tion is typ­i­cally “a last re­sort for some­body in dire cir­cum­stances, such as flee­ing a war or a nat­u­ral catas­tro­phe,” he said. “So I don’t think it would work.”

Philippe La­gassé, an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of in­ter­na­tional af­fairs at Car­leton Univer­sity in Ot­tawa, agreed it would be a “pretty sen­si­tive po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sion,” and the “cons are pretty heavy.”

And to be granted cit­i­zen­ship, he said, they would “have to demon­strate ex­cep­tional ser­vice and value to Canada.”

“Is be­ing a mem­ber of the royal fam­ily up there?” he pon­dered. “You could al­ways do it, but it might raise the ire of cer­tain peo­ple.”

Grant­ing per­ma­nent res­i­dency, he said, might be “less con­tro­ver­sial, but then again, it is still a form of fa­voritism.”

The queen her­self isn’t a cit­i­zen, he noted. But she does have a sta­tus here: She’s “the per­son­i­fi­ca­tion of the Cana­dian state.”

Still, she can’t grant Harry and Meghan cit­i­zen­ship, La­gassé said, be­cause she re­mains bound by Cana­dian law, which “is very clear that dis­cre­tion be­longs with the [im­mi­gra­tion] min­is­ter.”

De­pend­ing on their plans, Grewal said, the cou­ple have the op­tion of ap­ply­ing through a busi­ness im­mi­gra­tion pro­gram.

The Cana­dian govern­ment of­fers a start-up visa pro­gram for ap­pli­cants whose busi­ness ideas have been backed by a ven­ture cap­i­tal fund, an­gel in­vestor group or busi­ness in­cu­ba­tor. On­tario and Bri­tish Columbia — two prov­inces where the cou­ple could es­tab­lish their part-time abode — have their own pro­grams for busi­ness im­mi­grants.

“Both pro­grams have strict re­quire­ments,” Grewal said. “Only 5 per­cent [of ap­pli­ca­tions] get ac­cepted.”

Mean­while, a con­cern per­haps more press­ing to Cana­di­ans has emerged: Who will pay for the cou­ple’s se­cu­rity here?

The Royal Cana­dian Mounted Po­lice has pro­vided se­cu­rity for mem­bers of the royal fam­ily when they’ve vis­ited Canada on royal tours be­cause they’re con­sid­ered “in­ter­na­tion­ally pro­tected per­sons.” It’s un­clear whether Harry and Meghan will lose that sta­tus as they step back from their royal du­ties.

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau said Mon­day that the ques­tion of whether tax­pay­ers would be on the hook for their pro­tec­tion had yet to be de­cided.

Ta­mara Woroby, a pro­fes­sor of Cana­dian stud­ies at Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity and Tow­son Univer­sity in Mary­land, said many Cana­di­ans have taken the fact that the cou­ple “could ba­si­cally go to any coun­try in the world and they’ve cho­sen Canada” as a com­pli­ment.

But “in the end,” she said, “it’s money that’s go­ing to de­ter­mine . . . how peo­ple feel about them.”


Buck­ing­ham Palace on Mon­day, when the queen held a meet­ing to dis­cuss the fu­ture of Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sus­sex.

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