How will Meghan Markle become a British citizen? After 3, 5 or 6 years , which is the right answer?

We “stole” the main headline from BBC (article, we keep watch as we are being protective of Meghan’s immigration status to be legal and intact. 

Last week (and before BBC!) we posted a summary of UK marriage visa steps for Meghan (

Our posts - 100% legally accurate - attracted many comments and we Thank everybody who participated! 

The original article claimed Meghan would need 3 years. We rushed to protect Meghan from the wrong advice and explained it’s 5 years. Some of our audience commented it’s 6. Who is right?

Interestingly, each answer can be right depending on the circumstances. 

3 years. It is still the current rule in the British Nationality law on Naturalisation when it comes to spouses of UK citizens. But...

5 years. There’s another rule - to have permanent residency status , usually referred to as Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). We call this rule “No ILR - no Citizenship”. 

Pre-2012 spouses of UK citizens were given a Spouse visa for 2 years , then ILR and after 3 years - British Citizenship. Meghan, where were you then ?

Now spouses are given a visa for 2.5 years , then extension for 2.5 years and only after 5 years - ILR. This is why the answer for Meghan is 5 years. Here the Citizenship rules haven’t changed and still say - confusingly - 3 years of residency. Yet ILR rules were changed in 2012, effectively making it 5. Many couples still “try” after 3 years and get a refusal. Of course we will be guiding Meghan in this blog with our advice and protecting her against such mistakes. (Whether she chooses to take note is up to her but we strongly advise her to visit our blog frequently.)

The 5 years do not include time spent on a Fiancée visa. We don’t want to overwhelm the happy couple with all the legal stuff at once, so we will make a separate post on whether to choose a Fiancée visa or not to help Meghan and Harry decide. 

6 years. This is actually the most common route and applies to all those who are not married to a UK citizen. For example , if Meghan and Harry chose to live as unmarried partners instead of getting married. May not be quite what the Royal Protocol dictates but from the UK Immigration Rules point of view it would have been acceptable. The rule is to wait for 12 months after ILR and applies to all with exception of spouses of Brits. 

For individual advice or to make a real Spouse visa application (and to be treated like. Royal!) please contact us:  or visit:  We respond emails on the same working day! 

1st 4Immigration Ltd, authorised by the OISC, ref 200800152. We operate at the highest Level 3 of expertise. Office address: 68 King William Street, City of London, London, EC4M 7DZ.

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