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6 December 2017

Royal wedding exposes them-and-us visa system

Isai Priya, Refugee Rights Campaign

The royal engagement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle exposes once again that the immigration system has one rule for the establishment and another for us.

With a few signatures, Markle is to be fast-tracked to becoming a British citizen. It effect she will have to make one trip to the Home Office, and then walk out with a British passport.

This means skipping the long, painful process of first applying overseas for a fiancée entry clearance visa. Then proving that the sponsor has annual income exceeding £18,600. Or saving more than £62,500, which is held for six months.

Normal applicants then have to submit bundles of evidence proving they are a couple. The financial documentation must be in the specified format otherwise the visa application will be refused.

This process takes a minimum of three months for a decision. After which, if successful a six-month visa is issued. Then you have to make a further application after marriage to extend the visa, with all of the necessary specified supporting documents.

Upon approval, this spousal visa extension will only be valid for a time-limited 2.5-year period. Then you have to submit another extension application. And even that is not the end of the process.

Only after completing five years in the UK as the spouse of a British citizen are refugees and other applicants then eligible to apply to settle here permanently.

The Socialist Party fights for jobs, homes and services for all, for the right to asylum, and against racist and anti-working class immigration laws.

If you're very wealthy you can buy your way in. But for ordinary people the long, complex process, with all the cost and documentation, means visa applications don't have many fairy-tale endings.

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