I’m a tech journalist, not an immigration expert. But having been through a bit of this I thought I’d just run through what Ms Markle needs to know about applying for visas, etc.
Presumably when you’ve come to the UK in the past you’ve used either a work or a tourist visa. Now you’re coming here to get married you’ll need to apply for a family visa as a fiancee
That gives you a 6-month stay in the UK, during which time you’ll need to get married. You can’t work here during that period (I’m not sure how that fits with you doing public appearances, since we’ve always been told that’s part of the work of the royal family. But anyway).
RUNNING TOTAL: £1,464
After you’re married you’ll need to apply for another family visa, this time as a spouse. You’ll need to show your combined income is above £18,600 a year. Oh, and you can’t rely on “public funds”, but I presume your fiance’s income from the Duchy of Cornwall will get you through.
That gives you a two-and-a-half year stay in the UK, and you can work.
RUNNING TOTAL: £2,928
“Surely by this time,” you’ll be thinking, “I can just apply for some kind of permanent status?” Sadly not.
What you’re seeking is “Indefinite Leave to Remain” (ILR), but guess what? You can only get it after 5 years. Know what that means? That’s right! Another two-and-a-half year family visa.
RUNNING TOTAL: £4.392
Congrats, you’ve now been married five years and the UK government finally believes you’re not in a sham marriage. Next step, ILR. Oh, and yes, there’s a fee to pay.
RUNNING TOTAL: £6,689
Nearly there, Ms Markle – and at least you’ll probably have avoided doing any of this in person, thereby sparing yourself a trip to Lunar House:
After a year of ILR you can apply for UK citizenship (careful though: you can’t have spent more than 90 days outside the UK in any one of the previous three years, so you might want to rein in (reign in?) those foreign trips).
RUNNING TOTAL: £7,971
One more thing, your Royal Highness: your biometric information. That’ll be £19.20, please.
RUNNING TOTAL: £7,990.20
See you at the Citizenship Ceremony.