Prince Harry and Meghan Markle as Canadian citizens? It’s harder than it sounds

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle as Canadian citizens? It’s harder than it sounds

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle as Canadian citizens? It’s harder than it sounds

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have decided that they will live in Canada on a part-time basis with their son, Archie. Social media is buzzing with Canadians delighted that the Prince and the Suits star could be moving to their neighbourhood. Others are critical about the supposed “easy” move, as hard-working people around the world struggle to enter Canada. But, is it really that easy for the Royals to move to Canada? It’s not as simple as it sounds.

Foreign nationals seeking entry to Canada must have the authorization to do so. For most, this means having a temporary resident visa or an electronic travel authorization. British Royalty, however, is an exception to this rule - Her Majesty in right of Canada and any member of the Royal Family may enter Canada without any prior authorization. Visitor status is typically granted for a period of up to six months, though once in Canada, visitors may seek an extension of that status.

But what about working, studying and living permanently in Canada? When it comes to more than a simple visit to Canada, there is no outright exception to the ordinary rules of immigration for Royals.

If the Duke and Duchess of Sussex want to live here permanently, they must follow the same regulations governing anyone else. This means falling into a category, or “class,” eligible for permanent residence.

“Classes” include but are not limited to the “family class” (for Canadians or permanent residents seeking to sponsor their spouses or other eligible family members), “economic classes” (for those who demonstrate the ability to “become economically established in Canada”), and the “self-employed class” (for those demonstrating the ability to be self-employed in certain cultural, athletic, or farming activities).

For Harry and Meghan, one of the more likely pathways to permanent residency is an application under an “economic class”, meaning either or both could submit that they are likely to “become economically established in Canada.” Harry may face an uphill battle in that regard, having arguably insufficient formal post-secondary education and a minimal “skilled work” history. In Canada’s points-based system for the economic class, Harry is likely to come up short. More likely for success is the prospect of Meghan highlighting her university degree and several years of skilled work experience as an actress, and including Harry and Archie as accompanying family members in her application.

If Meghan intends to continue acting or participating in cultural activities (perhaps leveraging her acting career toward other artistic endeavours), she might qualify for permanent residency under the self-employed person class. Every year that passes since she last participated in so-called cultural activities will tend to lessen her chances, as such activities must have taken place within the last five years prior to submitting the application for permanent residence. Self-employed persons are assessed on a points system and the fewer years’ experience included in the application, the fewer points Meghan would score. She would also need to be mindful of the minimum requirement of inclusion of two one-year periods of experience in her application. With her last year on Suits having been in 2017, the clock is running out for her in this category as far as her acting experience is concerned.

What if Prince Harry applies as the principal applicant under the “self-employed class”? Prince Harry may be considered a “cultural icon”. He has served in countless international and public roles, including his launch of the Invictus Games alongside Michelle Obama. It would be interesting to see how an immigration officer would assess Harry’s case under this category.

With their backgrounds and available funds, they may have good chances of making it work under one of several categories, but they will need to make their case, submit it and be assessed like any other applicant.

While they weigh their options for and interest in permanent residency, there are a number of work permit options available to the Royals which will depend largely on the type of work in which they seek to engage. They may also choose to live so temporarily in Canada throughout the year that they seek only to gain entry to Canada as visitors from time to time. Each entry as a visitor will typically provide visitor status up to six months at a time. If there are compelling reasons, they may seek extensions of their visitor status as the need arises.

If ultimately the Duke and Duchess obtain permanent residence in Canada, they will be subject to a number of rules governing the maintenance of that status as well as their eventual ability to seek citizenship. Permanent residents must reside a minimum number of days in Canada for every five year period in order to maintain their status to ultimately qualify for citizenship. The road is not quick or smooth and their plans to travel or live part-time in the UK may prove to be hindrances.

If you would like more information or legal advice on visiting, working or studying in or moving to Canada, please contact Maya Krishnaratne at 416.446.5841 or maya.krishnaratne@devrylaw.ca.

“This article is intended to inform. Its content does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon by readers as such. If you require legal assistance, please see a lawyer. Each case is unique and a lawyer with good training and sound judgment can provide you with advice tailored to your specific situation and needs.”