Lawyer warns Prince Harry's drug use could threaten his US visa

‘There’s no exception for royalty’: Lawyer warns Prince Harry’s drug use could threaten his US visa after he admitted taking cocaine, cannabis and magic mushrooms in his memoir and TV interviews

  • Duke of Sussex is now facing calls for his US visa application to be released
  • Conservative think tank is in the middle of a battle with Washington officials 

Prince Harry’s admission of drug taking could threaten his US visa, an American lawyer has warned as he insisted there was ‘no exception for royalty’.

The Duke of Sussex revealed in his bombshell memoir ‘Spare’ and TV interviews that he had taken cocaine, cannabis and magic mushrooms in the past.

MailOnline yesterday revealed how the Duke is now facing calls for his US visa application to be released to see whether he admitted his drug use before emigrating to California with Meghan Markle in 2020.

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.

The DC-based 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.

Former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani told Page Six last night: ‘An admission of drug use is usually grounds for inadmissibility.

‘That means Prince Harry’s visa should have been denied or revoked because he admitted to using cocaine, mushrooms and other drugs.’

Prince Harry attends a rugby event at Buckingham Palace in London in January 2020

Prince Harry is pictured after a night out at the Cuckoo Club in London in August 2006

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.

Mr Rahmani, president of West Coast Trial Lawyers which is based in Los Angeles, added that there was ‘no exception for royalty or recreational use’.

But Texas-based immigration lawyer Sam Adair told Page Six that it was ‘unlikely that these admissions will present a problem’ because there have been no criminal convictions.

And attorney James Leonard told the publication that revealing in a book that ‘you experimented with drugs when you were a young man’ would not be enough for immigration officials to launch an investigation into Harry’s status.

In Spare and the TV interviews 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 has now called for his visa application to be released.

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’.

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.

Prince Harry revealed that he was sent to meet residents at a rehabilitation centre when Charles discovered he had been experimenting with cannabis and alcohol

MailOnline has approached representatives for Prince Harry for comment.

In Spare and the TV interviews that followed, Harry admitted taking cocaine, cannabis and magic mushrooms

A US State Department spokesman said: ‘Visa records are confidential under Section 222(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA); therefore, we cannot discuss the details of individual visa cases’.

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 and Meghan at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York in November 2021

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.

Harry (pictured with his wife) moved to California with Meghan Markle in 2020

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 the 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 now asked for the release of his visa application demanding to know if Harry was ‘properly vetted’ before coming to America. 

The group also wants 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.

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.

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 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. 

US State Department officials have repeatedly declined to answer queries about Harry’s immigration status

‘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 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’.

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,’ Professor 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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