With just a day to go until Prince Harry marries Meghan Markle, anticipation is high and immigration blogs about spouse visas are more popular than ever. However, we already wrote an excellent Great British Bake Off themed blog about visa applications for partners (https://latitudelaw.com/news/preparing-the-perfect-partner-application-what-is-the-best-recipe-to-use-2/), so here at Latitude we’re going to take an alternative look at the Royal wedding and explore some other interesting issues it presents.
Guests and dignitaries from all over the world as expected to make an appearance in Windsor tomorrow, but how have they all entered the UK?
- Any Sovereigns or Heads of State in attendance will be expressly permitted by Her Majesty’s Government, so they won’t have been queueing at passport control upon arrival.
- What about the celebrities who will be attendance, including (we hope) Patrick J Adams, Sarah Rafferty and Gabriel Macht, Ms Markle’s Suits co-stars? Nationals of Canada or of the USA are non-visa nationals, meaning that they don’t require a visa stamped into their passport before they can visit the UK. This means that upon arrival at the border, they can be given permission to stay for up to 6 months, free to enjoy the wedding and then take a little honeymoon/vacation of their own.
- Anyone who cannot benefit from these favourable arrangements would need a visa, which means satisfying an entry clearance officer (ECO) of the purpose of the visit to the UK and a genuine intention to leave once the visit is over. Surely even the most sceptical ECO wouldn’t refuse a visit visa to someone with an invitation to the biggest event of the year, would they?
There has been much speculation about who might perform at the evening reception tomorrow, with Elton John now expected to have at least some involvement during the day. But what happens if the couple decides to have an artist from Ms Markle’s homeland to perform – we hear Meghan’s a major Janelle Monáe fan (who isn’t?). Luckily, the visitor immigration rules would make allowance for this, with musicians, artists and entertainers all able to enter the UK to give a scheduled performance. Any necessary personal or technical staff already employed overseas would also be permitted to enter to allow the performance to proceed.
It’s been impossible to avoid royal wedding coverage these past few weeks, and Windsor is currently overrun by journalists from around the globe desperate to report back to audiences at home. Just as with entertainers, journalists, correspondents, producers and camera(wo)men are permitted to enter the UK short-term as business visitors, allowing them to record and report every detail without having to secure a complicated visa in advance. Anyone media looking to stalk the Royal couple longer-term might, however, need to look at a Tier 2 visa. Remember that not all visitors can travel to the UK without prior permission, so a journalist from a country with stricter controls needs to have secured their visa already.
Up to 100,000 people are expected in Windsor tomorrow, all eager to catch a glimpse of the happy couple. Most of them will be British nationals or already resident in the UK, but some will have travelled here just to take part in the celebrations. Any national of an EU member State will be granted automatic entry of course, as free movement between European nations continues until (at least) Brexit. Anyone from outside the EU – referred to as third country nationals – are likely to enter as visitors for general tourist purposes and will be subject to the same controls as discussed above. It’s worth noting that those people will not have to immediately leave the UK after the wedding is over; tourists can usually remain in the UK for up to 6 months, albeit subject to strict controls on prohibited activities (such as employment). Any visitor who has decided on an extended holiday will be thrilled to know that the sun is expected to shine for them tomorrow, and for a few days afterwards.