Judge to Review Prince Harry’s Visa Papers in Dispute Over Release

A federal judge has ordered the Department of Homeland Security to submit documents related to Prince Harry’s visa for the court to review after the department refused to release them to the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Heritage Foundation has sued the department, contending that it has a right to see the documents as part of research into whether Prince Harry had been improperly allowed to reside in the United States given his admissions in his 2023 memoir and elsewhere that he had used cocaine and other drugs.

The foundation had sought the documents specifically to investigate how the prince had been admitted, since certain visas on which he could have entered the United States require applicants to answer questions about past drug use and drug-related legal violations.

Judge Carl J. Nichols of the Federal District Court in Washington ordered the department to submit the papers in question for his confidential review to determine whether they should be released in some form.

The possibility that the prince concealed the drug use in applying for a visa could carry immigration consequences, and waivers he may have been granted generally would have been precluded by the nature of the drug use he described in public interviews and his memoir.

“Widespread and continuous media coverage has surfaced the question of whether D.H.S. properly admitted the Duke of Sussex in light of the fact that he has publicly admitted to the essential elements of a number of drug offenses in both the United States and abroad,” the foundation’s lawyers wrote in their original complaint.

The complaint cited numerous other cases in which celebrities and public figures such as the soccer star Diego Maradona and the singer Amy Winehouse ran into immigration problems or were denied entry over reported drug use.

The legal dispute began in May after the department returned the Heritage Foundation’s request, deeming it “too broad in scope.” It did not immediately deny the request but directed the think tank to resubmit and identify more specific records for it to consider.

Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, had been living in California for some time before his memoir was published, and he has expressed interest in becoming a U.S. citizen.

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