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How will Prince Harry and Meghan Markle stay in Canada? A look at residency options

What will Prince Harry and Meghan’s new life look like after stepping away as working royals?
WATCH: What will Prince Harry and Meghan's new life look like after stepping away as working royals?

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are set to live in Canada after relinquishing their royal titles. But how, exactly, the duo will do that remains a bit unclear.

They do have quite a few options — they could live in Canada six months at a time without formal paperwork, or they would apply for work visas and stay longer. Or, if the couple truly wants to put down roots in the country, they could apply for permanent residency.

READ MORE: Here are some options that await Prince Harry and Meghan after royal split

While the royal couple announced plans to step away from their roles in the Monarchy and move to Canada earlier this month, details on what that arrangement will entail have not been made public. It’s unclear how long Prince Harry, Markle and their son Archie will live in the country and where.

The route the couple chooses largely depends on whether Markle, who lived in Canada for several years while acting in the TV show Suits, has permanent residency in Canada already.

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“If she is a permanent resident, she can sponsor Harry in the family class,” Usha George, the director of the Ryerson University’s Centre for Immigration and Settlement, told Global News.

Prince Harry speaks out about decision to step away from royal duties
Prince Harry speaks out about decision to step away from royal duties

George explained that may be easier than Markle sponsoring her husband under the economic class, which has several criteria such as skills, education and work experience.

Prince Harry does not have a college or university degree, but did attend the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Markle graduated from Northwestern University’s School of Communication, located in Illinois, in 2003.

If Markle is not a permanent resident, the easiest option available is to live in Canada for six months at a time. This option would give the British and American citizens visitor status in Canada.

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Mixed reaction to Harry and Meghan’s royal withdrawal

READ MORE: Prince Harry, Meghan will no longer be working members of the royal family

Canadian immigration lawyer Evelyn Ackah explained the big limitation to going that route is that they can’t work in the country.

“As long as they maintain their visitor status, for instance, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle could leave and go to the States.”

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“Maybe after five months, come back, and the six months time clock starts again. They could do that for quite a while.”

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This option could be suitable for the couple, who are retaining access to their U.K. home of Frogmore Cottage. A statement from Buckingham Palace released Saturday also noted the couple will continue some of their work.

“With the Queen’s blessing, the Sussexes will continue to maintain their private patronages and associations,” the statement said.

Public Safety Minister says assessment still needs to be done on security for Prince Harry, Meghan Markle
Public Safety Minister says assessment still needs to be done on security for Prince Harry, Meghan Markle

If Markle is not a permanent resident in Canada, but the family’s goal is to stay in the country for a prolonged time, the scenario is different.

“Meghan Markle could qualify likely, for permanent residency under express entry for the federal skilled worker category,” Ackah said. “She’d probably have enough points to be selected and invited to apply because of her age, she has a degree and has significant work experience.”

Ackah said that would open the path for her husband and son to also become permanent residents.

READ MORE: 73% of Canadians don’t want to cover costs for Prince Harry, Meghan Markle: poll

If the couple doesn’t have jobs lined up, Markle can also apply for the self-employment category, Ackah explained, which is useful for individuals in the arts or sports.

“The self-employed work permit and permanent residency, it’s not tied to an employer, which gives them a lot more flexibility,” she said.

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In any case, both George and Ackah explained the duke and duchess will likely have to follow rules like any other American or British citizen.

“They need to qualify as permanent residents or as foreign workers.”

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“It’s basically the same as anybody,” Ackah said, noting the only difference is their case could be expedited.

Prince Harry and Meghan drop royal duties and HRH titles
Prince Harry and Meghan drop royal duties and HRH titles

A statement from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada also noted there are no such provisions in Canada for the royal family.

“There are no provisions in the Citizenship Act that confer Canadian citizenship status to members of the Royal Family,” an email statement to Global News read.

“In order to become legal permanent residents of Canada, they would need to apply through our normal immigration processes. However, members of the Royal Family are generally not required to seek authorization to come to and stay in Canada as visitors.”