Prince Harry should have been denied residency in the US if he failed to disclose his drug use and could see it revoked if he “lied”, a leading US immigration expert has suggested.
Anyone seeking to settle either temporarily or permanently in the US must answer questions about their history of drug use when applying for a visa or permanent residency.
Immigration lawyers The Telegraph spoke with confirmed the Duke of Sussex would have been required to detail that history when he made the decision to permanently relocate to California. The Duke moved to the ultra-wealthy Californian enclave of Montecito with his wife Meghan in early 2020.
“He would have been asked [about drug use]. If he was truthful in his answers, he should have been denied,” said Prof Alberto Benítez, director of George Washington University’s Immigration Clinic.
The law professor said it would be in Harry’s “best interest” to acknowledge his illicit drug use, adding “otherwise, he’s perjuring himself on an official US government document”.
He suggested the Duke may have been granted some discretion by immigration officials because of his Royal status.
“If he wasn’t Prince Harry, if was ‘Fred Jones’ and he had this kind of a background, he’d have a lot more scrutiny and I could certainly see the green card being denied,” Prof Benitez said.
If the Duke failed to declare it, Prof Benitez said: “One of the repercussions, whatever visa he has, is that it would be revoked, or he’ll be subject to being revoked because he lied in the application process.”
Prof Benitez, who includes the Duke as a case study in one of his law classes, said it was most likely Harry is residing in the US on a Green Card.
He said the easiest route for the Duke to gain a Green Card would be through his wife, who is a US citizen.
Applicants for a Green Card, usually granted to foreigners who are permanent residents in the country, are also required to undergo a medical examination.
The application form includes an extensive list of questions including an applicant’s criminal history and even asking about any potential involvement in the Nazi Party.
Similar questions are posed to applicants for visas, including tourists applying for visa waivers.
Another immigration lawyer, Chrissie Fernandez, tempered speculation over the legal jeopardies Harry’s drug use posed.
“In theory, if Prince Harry ever possessed any illicit substances, even if he was not arrested, he would have been required to disclose that,” she told The Telegraph.
However Ms Fernandez suggested that US officials will only ban applicants based on drug use in “very limited circumstances”.
She added: “As it relates to past drug use without a conviction, it’s unlikely to cause a real problem for him.
“It’s unlikely that his case would be reopened if immigration authorities were to hear that he previously, years ago, used drugs… So unless he talked about using drugs quite recently, it’s unlikely to have affected his getting immigrant status in the US.”
In Spare, Harry writes that he took psychedelics both for fun and therapeutically over the years, smoking cannabis in his garden at Kensington Palace and at Eton.
He admits he took cocaine as a teenager and magic mushrooms in California in 2016.