Not long now till the royal wedding.
Invitations will have been sent out, cathedral and bishop booked, medals and tiaras dusted off. Last minute problems will come up – will Prince Philip make it after his hip replacement? Normal kind of wedding stuff, just on a bigger scale than normal.
Like many British people, Prince Harry has chosen to marry a non-EU national, indeed an American, like I did. This adds to the challenges and delights of a wedding – which traditions do you keep, which do you ditch? We didn’t do the garter or bouquet throwing, my mum rather than my dad walked me down the aisle (dad was the vicar), and Patrick throwing me over his shoulder and running out of the church yelling “she’s all mine now”, well, that was just him. But these are things that need to be thought through.
The other important thing that needs to be done is the immigration paperwork. Prince Harry needs to apply to sponsor his wife for a visa. To do this he needs to:
- demonstrate that he has enough funds to support her – three months of bank statements, usually – or £60,000 in savings held for the previous 6 months.
- pay a NHS surcharge for her (several hundred pounds per year, upfront)
- show evidence that it is a valid relationship. This typically involves photographs, proof that you have had holidays together, facebook updates maybe?
- submit birth certificates
- get biometrics done at a local postoffice – fingerprints, basically.
- pay fees, a few thousand pounds.
I’m sure Prince Harry has done what is required, and has not given that part of it any more thought. He is probably not nervous that his bride won’t be there on the big day because the paperwork got lost, or the stated processing time of two months actually was not even close to realistic. Or that the Home Secretary will decide that it is not a real relationship, or that they could continue it perfectly will vis Skype. Indeed, in his case, the Prime Minister and former Home Secretary, Mrs May, has congratulated them, saying,
“This is a time of huge celebration and excitement for two people in love and, on behalf of myself, the Government and the country, I wish them great happiness for the future.”
Unfortunately Mrs May does not seem to celebrate the marriages or family of many other British citizens married to Americans (or other nationalities), including mine. She is the architect of the current rules which have led to suffering and separation for many.
Many people don’t earn £18,600 and even fewer have that £60,000 in savings. In my own case, I certainly don’t, even though as a family we support ourselves just fine. There are many people I have come to know who are forced to effectively become single parents while waiting for the spousal visa, trying to earn enough money, juggling child care, applying for just a visa for the spouse to visit in the meantime and getting that denied in case they don’t leave. I, like many others, was told that we can continue our relationships over “modern means of communication” like Skype.
When applying for my children I submitted 60 photographs of them, with us in the pictures too (an actual requirement to show that we have been involved in their lives). We submitted evidence of classes they had taken, plane tickets to show that we did things together as a family. We paid our NHS surcharge and all the visa fees and waited the 3 months stated – then 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 months – getting annoyed, but not concerned because we knew they were going to be granted. They were denied. Despite all the evidence that they actually are our children, that we have taken care of them, been involved in their lives, despite paying the thousands of pounds, getting them fingerprinted, they were denied. And told that we could communicate by Skype and that their grandparents could look after them just fine (we had not submitted any evidence that they had a relationship with their grandparents at all).
In our case, it was our children who were denied and removed. In most cases it is spouses, like Miss Markle. Actually, not like Miss Markle, because she’s marrying a prince and Mrs May is celebrating that.