Highlands & Islands

Deportation family can stay until August

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Media captionThe Brain family moved from Australia to Scotland in 2011, but have been told they now do not meet visa criteria

An Australian family at risk of being deported from the UK have been told they can stay until August, but will not be allowed to work in the meantime.

Kathryn Brain, her husband Gregg and son Lachlan moved to Dingwall in the Highlands in 2011 on a student visa, but the rules later changed.

The family had thought they were at risk of being deported on Tuesday.

SNP MP Ian Blackford said they had now been granted leave to remain until 1 August.

But Mr Blackford said Mr and Mrs Brain had been told they cannot work in the meantime.

They had hoped a job offer made to Mrs Brain by the business behind the planned GlenWyvis distillery in Dingwall would meet visa requirements and allow them to stay in Scotland.

Mr Blackford said he found it "utterly incredulous" that the Home Office had refused to grant Mr and Mrs Brain the right to work.

He added: "Both Kathryn and Gregg have secured jobs in the local area, which would benefit the local economy and allow them to continue the enormous contribution that they have already made to life in the Highlands."

The Home Office confirmed it had granted the family a further two-month extension to a grace period it was previously given, but said evidence of a relevant job in line with immigration rules had not been provided to date.

It said an application for the family to remain in the UK would be considered if submitted during the grace period.

Mr Brain said the mood within the family was currently "somewhere between elated and furious".

'Set up to fail'

He added: "We're not sure how to take it. I'm grateful to (Home Office minister) James Brokenshire for giving us the extension but that gratitude is tempered by the fact that I am - as a direct result of home office actions - homeless, unemployed, my passport remains confiscated.

"They have said they will be writing to the DVLA recommending that our drivers' licences be cancelled and that consideration has been given to freezing our bank accounts."

Mr Brain said he was "having difficulty avoiding the conclusion that we're being set up to fail" because of the financial requirements they believe they may be asked to meet.

He explained: "For the visa requirements we're likely to have to meet a maintenance funds requirement which means we'd have to have for each of the three of us £945 sitting untouched in a bank account for 90 days prior to making the application.

"So we'd need to maintain a minimum balance of £2,835 untouched in an account for 90 days.

"Now there are 60 days remaining and we've not been working since mid-March, as Mr Brokenshire well knows. It's going to be physically impossible for us to meet that requirement. We've had less than nothing for some time now. We've been living on the charity of friends and the church."

The family had been given extra time to help them meet visa rules on two previous occasions.

Mr and Mrs Brain met First Minister Nicola Sturgeon last week. Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish government would do everything it could to help them.

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