Scottish Daily Mail
PERVERSION OF JUSTICE
Hard-working family fight deportation after Home Office breaks vow to let them stay
AN Australian family facing imminent deportation from Scotland say they will be left ‘homeless, jobless and significantly in debt’ if forced to leave.
Kathryn and Gregg Brain, who moved to the UK with their son Lachlan in 2011, had until midnight last night to secure a job that met Home Office visa requirements.
The family had moved to Dingwall, Rossshire, on Mrs Brain’s student visa – but the terms of their stay were later changed by the Government.
Mr Brain says the family has racked up a fivefigure debt in their fight with the Home Office to remain in the UK, saying that Scotland was ‘the place that we felt like we really belonged’.
‘We came over here on the promise that once Kathryn had finished her studies we’d be able to stay on for two years on a very straightforward ticket – post-study work visa – which was subsequently, retroactively cancelled,’ he told the BBC.
‘What we want is for the UK Government to honour the promise it made to us six years ago when we committed to coming over here, selling our house [in Australia], selling up just about everything that we owned and investing hundreds of thousands of pounds in the local economy.’
Speaking as the deadline loomed, Mr Brain said he had been ‘throwing up’ since the morning at the prospect of deportation. ‘There is only so much adrenalin your body can dump into your system at one time,’ he said. ‘But this isn’t any different from another day – we have been running on three or four hours sleep a night, doing 15- to 20-hour days trying to get something put together.’
Scotland MEP David Coburn, leader of Ukip north of the Border, said the case exposed ‘the folly of the current, heartless immigration system’.
‘This family, who have a great deal to offer Scotland and their local community, are being thrown out, while we are keeping many immigrants convicted of heinous offences,’ he said.
‘The sooner we end freedom of movement for EU citizens, the sooner we can have the fair and compassionate immigration system that would keep this family in Scotland and protect our country from foreign criminals.’
Mrs Brain had taken a place at the University of the Highlands and Islands studying Scottish history and archaeology, with her family listed as dependants on her student visa.
Mr Brain had been working full-time as a receptionist in a legal office, while their seven-year-old son was schooled entirely in Gaelic.
But only ten months after they moved to Scotland, the post-study work visa with which the family had planned to stay in the country was scrapped. Mrs Brain’s student visa expired in December and since then they have been fighting to stay.
She has been trying to secure work which meets the requirements for a Tier 2 visa, including a minimum salary threshold of £20,800.
Mr Brain said the family have received around a dozen job offers – which he described as ‘wonderful and humbling’ – but none that would meet the specifications.
‘It’s got to be earning at least £20,800 which is not just a graduate position but a graduate with some years of experience in the field, so it’s very difficult to get to that level,’ he said.
But he said they are hopeful that a 28-day extension can now be secured.
The family have won support from Paisley-born actor Tom Conti, who accused the Government of ‘moving the goalposts’ by scrapping the poststudy work visa and said it was something ‘we’d expect of the Soviet Union
or Iran’. He said he would be prepared to provide money to the family to ensure they maintain a minimum balance in their bank account in order to meet visa requirements, telling Radio 4’s World At One programme: ‘If you’re not allowed to work, how do you maintain a minimum balance?’
A spokesman for the Home Office said he could not comment on the family’s case, or what might happen if they refused to leave.
He added: ‘All visa applications are considered on their individual merits and applicants must provide evidence to show they meet the requirements of the immigration rules.’