PRINCE Harry may never hold a Green Card or be granted US citizenship after admitting to taking a variety of drugs, a lawyer has warned.
The Duke of Sussex previously revealed he had experimented with cocaine, marijuana, magic mushrooms and ayahuasca – all of which are tightly controlled or banned in the country.
It raised questions over how the 38-year-old was granted his current visa – likely a temporary non-immigrant one called an O-1 for extraordinary ability – as candidates are quizzed on their narcotics history.
But it also sparked speculation that he may not be permitted to remain in the States long term under strict anti-drug rules.
Solicitor Kaitlin Davies, from Davies Legal which specialises in immigration, said: “Without exceptional circumstances, Harry would likely never be able to hold a Green Card or become a US citizen if he formally admits to using cocaine.”
Admissions in his book Spare or during TV interviews would not be considered “formal” as they were not made under oath.
However, they could be made so by questioning him at an official interview.
“If the prince admitted to any immigration officer that he had previously used illegal drugs, he would be deemed ineligible for a visa,” the solicitor said.
In 2014, TV chef Nigella Lawson was banned from boarding a flight from Heathrow to Los Angeles four months after she confessed to experimenting with narcotics.
The late singer Amy Winehouse was also denied entry to the country to attend the Grammy Awards in 2008 because of admissions about her battle with drug addiction.
In his memoir, the duke, who lives in California with wife Meghan Markle, admitted he regularly smoked cannabis and misused alcohol as a teenager.
He then tried coke for the first time aged 17 while on a hunting weekend, before snorting “a few more lines” on several other occasions.
In a subsequent TV interview, Harry admitted using Class A ayahuasca, a high from Amazon rainforest vines, to help him cope with the trauma of his mum Princess Diana’s 1997 death.
He also described his hallucinogenic experiences under the effects of magic mushrooms – which included talking to a bin.
During the O-1 application process, candidates have to declare any criminal history – including past drug use.
This includes answering the questions, “Are you or have you ever been a drug abuser or addict?” and, “Have you ever violated or engaged in a conspiracy to violate any law relating to controlled substances?” on a DS-160 form.
It is not known if Harry divulged this information, though sources suggest he did.
If he did so in writing, and then was to do so formally at interview, Harry may be considered medically or criminally ineligible.
If he denied use, an officer may conclude he was lying – or misrepresenting – based on claims in his memoir, so he would struggle to obtain any US visa or right to remain.
If the prince admitted to any immigration officer that he had previously used illegal drugs, he would be deemed ineligible for a visa.
Being criminally ineligible means Harry would be recommended for a Waiver of Inadmissibility at an embassy interview.
In general, no waiver is available for drugs offences, but exceptions are made for those in remission.
Given the flippant nature of the admissions and the financial benefits he would bring to the US, Harry would probably be granted one quickly.
Ms Davies said: “There are no exceptions available for high-profile cases, but authorities can use their discretion to favour celebrities and ‘fast-track’ decisions.
“Where an average person may have to wait months for a Waiver, Harry could potentially get it informally fast-tracked through contracts.
“We had a recent example of two Green Card holders: one, a celebrity, the other an average person, both attempting to re-enter after a lengthy period of absence, which is not permitted.
“The average person had arguably a much stronger case, but was denied, whereas the celebrity sailed through.”
POTENTIAL DRUGS TESTING
Harry is unlikely to undergo conventional drugs testing because his documented drug experiences were not recent.
But the embassy must refer him for a medical examination if they find he had one or more drug or alcohol arrests in the last five years, or two or more in the last 10 years.
Due to press attention, an officer could also use discretion to order a medical to ensure he does not continue to use illegal substances, Ms Davies added.
In general, not declaring drug use can cause huge problems when trying to obtain future visas.
“Although in reality, it is extremely uncommon for anyone who has not been arrested for drug offences to declare use or violation,” Ms Davies said.
O-1 visas have to be renewed every five years or less so Harry may soon have to decide whether to declare or not.
The difference between Harry’s admissions and someone like Nigella Lawson is that his admissions in his book were not under oath so do not immediately render him ineligible, but very well can, Ms Davies said.
The Heritage Foundation, a conservative research institute, has requested a copy of Harry’s documents from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under the Freedom of Information Act.
US immigration authorities have until April 12 to respond.