Prince Harry: Jobson on possible issues with US citizenship
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Prince Harry has been given a stern warning that “there is no provision of the law that exempts members of the British Royal Family from being truthful in their visa applications”, as the row deepens over the Duke’s recent admissions of past drug use. Conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation is campaigning for the release of Harry’s US visa application after the Duke of Sussex revealed in his tell-all memoir Spare and in recent TV interviews that he had taken cocaine, cannabis and magic mushrooms in the past. US immigration law regards any failure to declare drug use to immigration officials a serious violation that can result in deportation and being permanently barred from applying for citizenship.
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, retired Department of Homeland Security Special Agent Kristofor Healey revealed exactly what protocols Harry would have had to follow when he applied for citizenship and whether he thinks the Duke breached them.
It’s unclear what visa Harry was issued when he applied as that has not been publicly released.
Harry likely obtained a visa based on his marriage to Meghan Markle, Healey said
Given that the Duke’s married to a US Citizen and has chosen to reside in the US, he is eligible to obtain some type of “immigrant visa”, the former DHS official explained.
According to Healey, the bone of contention appears to refer to the section on the form under “Security and Background”, which specifically asks: “Are you or have you ever been a drug abuser or addict?”
While illegal drug use can absolutely be grounds for inadmissibility, applicants can also provide additional context on an application that mitigates the issue, he explained.
“An individual could note that they had been in recovery for years or were no longer engaged in drug use at the time of the application, for instance,” Healey said, adding: “In that case, absent other issues with the application, the visa might still be issued”.
However, even if Harry concealed past drug use in his visa application, Healey thinks it’s highly unlikely that the Duke’s at risk of having his visa status revoked.
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“Unless a visa recipient is involved in other criminal activity, DHS doesn’t typically move to investigate someone for visa fraud or revoke their status,” the former DHS agent explained.
He continued: “And while there is no provision of the law that exempts members of the British Royal Family from being truthful in their visa applications, Harry would almost certainly be given the benefit of the doubt by anyone looking into the issue based upon his notoriety and status.
“In short, he isn’t a threat to national security or a likely criminal, which is the point of screening applicants in the first place.”
While it is illegal to knowingly make a false claim in a visa application, and such false claims can be charged federally, Healey said he rarely encountered this infraction during his time as a DHS agent.
“I investigated subjects for visa fraud many times in my career, but when we charged them, it was typically part of a larger investigation in which the individual committed other crimes – money laundering, wire fraud, mail fraud – and used their visa to enter and remain in the United States in furtherance of those crimes,” he explained.
Healy added: “Regardless of the type of visa that he obtained, I highly doubt that DHS will open a criminal matter or try to revoke his visa administratively.
“While it can be argued that Harry made a false claim if he failed to acknowledge past drug use on his application, it is unlikely to be seen as material to his overall suitability to reside in the United States.”
Regardless of the facts on the ground, the lawyer pushing for the release of Harry’s visa application believes the public has a right to know.
“The Heritage Foundation is seriously concerned about migration policy, and the laws on the books being properly enforced. That’s what led to this,” lawyer Samuel Dewey told Express.co.uk.
Dewey continued: “We had a concern that Prince Harry had preferential treatment because there are certain grounds for inadmissibility into the country regardless of your visa applications; you can’t come into the country without meeting certain criteria and one of them relates to drug use.”
The lawyer believes it’s a matter of principle: “When you’re talking about immigration it’s often a zero sum game. If resources were spent processing and giving a special favour to Prince Harry because of his status, they may have been taking away from an applicant who didn’t have any potential grounds for inadmissibility and has a very good case to come here.”
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