Prince Harry faces a fight to keep his US visa application secret today as campaigners demanded its release to see if he admitted his drug use before emigrating to California with Meghan Markle in 2020, MailOnline can reveal.
A conservative think tank is in the middle of a battle with Washington DC officials who are staunchly refusing to publish any details – including any texts or emails – citing the Duke of Sussex’s ‘privacy’.
In Spare and the TV blitz that followed, Harry admitted taking cocaine, cannabis and magic mushrooms. He said marijuana and psychedelics ‘really helped’ with his ‘trauma’ while cocaine was more a ‘social thing’.
The Heritage Foundation says his visa application must now be released so the American taxpayer can understand whether Harry declared his drug use. US immigration law has harsh penalties for lying to immigration officials, including deportation and being barred from applying for citizenship.
Mike Howell, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project, said: ‘This request is in the public interest in light of the potential revocation of Prince Harry’s visa for illicit substance use and further questions regarding the Prince’s drug use and whether he was properly vetted before entering the United States’.
Prince Harry wrote about his drug use in Spare and his subsequent TV promotion blitz for the book. He revealed that he was sent to meet residents at a rehabilitation centre when Prince Charles discovered he had been experimenting with cannabis and alcohol
Campaigners say the US taxpayer should learn more about Harry’s entry to the US after Megxit
Experts have insisted US visa applications would usually be thrown out if there is any history of drug use. The Heritage Foundation says if border officials did know, Harry’s case raises questions over whether he was given special treatment because he is a prince and his wife is a TV star, which they insist would be illegal.
Can drug users be banned from visiting the United States?
US officials can stop foreigners who have committed drugs offences entering the country even if they have never been arrested and charged by police.
Under US rules, suspected drug abusers applying for a visa may be required to answer additional medical history questions and also take a medical exam to prove that they are not still a drug abuser before being allowed to enter the country.
In high profile cases where celebrities who are known to have taken drugs want to come to America, they have been invited into the US embassy in London to take a drugs test.
Pete Doherty was famously banned from the US due to drug-related arrests.
In 2014 chef Nigella Lawson was banned from flying to the US because she confessed to taking drugs.
MailOnline has approached representatives for Harry and the US State Department for comment.
In his autobiography ‘Spare’, Harry revealed that he first took cocaine on a shooting weekend at age 17. He did a ‘few more lines’ on other occasions.
He also admitted to hallucinating during a celebrity-filled event in California and smoking cannabis after his first date with Meghan.
He also spoke about his ‘positive’ experience of psychedelic drug ayahuasca saying it ‘brought me a sense of relaxation, release, comfort, a lightness that I managed to hold on to for a period of time’.
The duke, 38, made the comments in an interview with therapist Dr Gabor Maté,an outspoken supporter of decriminalising drugs who has allegedly used Amazonian plant ayahuasca to treat patients suffering from mental illness.
Harry told him: ‘(Cocaine) didn’t do anything for me, it was more a social thing and gave me a sense of belonging for sure, I think it probably also made me feel different to the way I was feeling, which was kind of the point.
‘Marijuana is different, that actually really did help me.’
Fiona Spargo-Mabbs, who launched a drugs education charity in her son Daniel’s name after he died of an accidental MDMA overdose aged 16, said the duke’s comments were ‘concerning’.
It has long been speculated that Harry could be working in the US on a fast track visa handed to people with ‘extraordinary ability’ – known as a O-1 visa. The O-1, also used by Canadian singer Justin Bieber and Australian actor Hugh Jackman, last for three years, meaning that Harry’s renewal could be due with weeks.
Following the release of Spare in January, where the exiled royal revealed regular drug use, immigration experts warned he may have put his visa ‘at risk’ after admitting about his illicit drug use.
And today MailOnline can reveal that The Heritage Foundation, which took a leading role in the conservative movement during the presidency of Ronald Reagan and had a major influence on Donald Trump’s administration, has asked for the release of his visa application demanding to know if Harry was ‘properly vetted’ before coming to America.
They also want to know if he admitted to officials that he took drugs, which immigration experts note meant he should have been denied residency in the US if he failed to disclose his narcotics usage during the application process.
Harry (pictured with his wife) moved to California with Meghan Markle in 2020. Most applicants with a history of drug use would be denied American visas, however immigration decisions are made on a ‘case-by-case’ basis
It is unclear what type of US visa Harry holds, but analysts speculate he either holds a spousal visa – sponsored by his American wife – or a O-1 visa which is given to people with ‘extraordinary ability’
The Heritage Foundation has also compiled a dossier of evidence, including Harry’s own admissions in his memoir and various TV interviews about taking cocaine, cannabis and magic mushrooms.
This has all been sent to the Department of Homeland Security, US Customs/Border Protection and US Citizenship Immigration Services to bolster their freedom of information request.
But US officials have so refused to release his visa application, citing ‘privacy’ concerns, but Mike Howell, director of the Heritage Oversight Project, insists it is in the ‘public interest’ to know how Harry’s case was handled and has appealed the decision.
Mr Howell has also demanded to see any emails, texts, WhatsApps or other correspondence related to Harry’s visa to ensure public confidence in how it was handled.
He said: ‘Harry’s abuse of multiple illicit substances, including marijuana, cocaine, “magic mushrooms,” and other psychedelic drugs.
‘It is unclear at this juncture whether DHS complied with the law if, in admitting Prince Harry, did so without a waiver or any interview with CBP to assess whether, given his history, he was admissible to the United States.
‘As a result, this widespread media interest in Prince Henry’s drug abuse inevitably raises possible questions regarding his application for residency in the United States.
‘Public confidence in the government would undoubtedly suffer if DHS, CBP, and USCIS failed to properly vet such a high-profile case.
‘Moreover, if Prince Harry was granted preferential treatment that too would undermine public confidence in DHS, CPB, and USCIS’s application of equal justice under the law’.
Following the release of Spare, immigration experts warned The Duke of Sussex could be barred from the US and put his visa ‘at risk’ after admitting about his illicit drug usage.
American authorities note entry into the country is granted on a ‘case-by-case’ basis – and it is unclear if Harry, who moved to California with his wife Meghan Markle in 2020, detailed his drug use on his visa application.
It is unclear what type of US visa Harry holds, but analysts speculate he either holds a spousal visa – sponsored by his American wife – or a O-1 visa which is given to people with ‘extraordinary ability’.
US State Department officials have repeatedly declined to answer queries about Harry’s immigration status
Immigration experts claim Harry may have received discretion during his visa application process because of his royal status. He is pictured leaving Public Nightclub in Chelsea, London, in December 2010 after partying with Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice
The Sussexes relocated to California in 2020, meaning his visa could be set to expire this year. Any renewal application could be impacted by his newly admitted history with drugs.
Anyone seeking temporary or permanent residency in the US must answer a series of questions about their criminal and drug history during when applying.
‘He would have been asked [about drug use]. If he was truthful in his answers, he should have been denied,’ Prof Alberto Benítez, director of George Washington University’s Immigration Clinic, said recently/
The professor argued that if Harry did not detail his drug use, he would have been ‘perjuring himself on an official US government document’.
He claimed honesty would have been in the Duke’s ‘best interest’ and noted he may have received discretion from immigration officials because of his royal status.
‘If he wasn’t Prince Harry, if he 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 added.
US State Department officials have repeatedly declined to answer whether his admission of drug use would ’cause difficulties’ with his immigration status – or if he had detailed any drug use before.
‘Visa records are confidential under US law; therefore, we cannot discuss the details of individual visa cases. We cannot speculate on whether someone may or may not be eligible for a visa,’ a spokesman said in January
‘Whenever an individual applies for a US visa, a consular officer reviews the facts of the case and determines whether the applicant is eligible for that visa based on US law.
‘All visa applications are adjudicated on a case-by-case basis.’
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