Aussie family faces imminent deportation from Scotland

AN Australian family is facing imminent deportation from the Scottish Highlands after the Government scrapped the type of visa they arrived on.

Kathryn and Gregg Brain have strongly criticised the "injustice" of the Home Office's threat to remove them in August after retroactively ending a two-year post-study scheme just three months after they arrived in the Scottish Highlands in 2011.

Their leave to remain in the UK expires at midnight on Monday night. While Theresa May has said "there is a need to follow the rules", a Home Office spokesperson has said any visa application put in by the family up until that time will be considered.

But if the family's "grace period" elapses, the Brains will be expected to voluntarily return home to Australia.

A decade-long dream to move to the UK was thrown into disarray in 2012 when the family, which includes 11-year-old son Lachlan, were first made aware that Ms Brain's visa was no longer considered valid by the Government.

And now a job offer for Ms Brain has fallen through, threatening the deal made by new immigration minister Robert Goodwill that the family could stay on the condition that Ms Brain find permanent work.

Mr Brain said he was disappointed that the Home Office had not upheld "their end of the bargain."

"We spent 10 years trying to plan to get here in the first place - it's been a dream of ours since years before Lachlan was born," he said.

"It's not something we can put aside lightly. It's the injustice of it, the thousands of students who were robbed when this deal was retro-actively torn up.

"I just cannot accept this, I want the UK Government to give us what they promised us when they enticed us to sell our homes and bring that equity to the UK.

"Neither one of us have been allowed to work since mid-March and we have been living on the charity of friends, the church and strangers."


The Brain family applied for Ms Brain's student visa in 2010, but the Government announced in March 2011 that the two-year post-study visa scheme they and many other immigrants arrived with would be discontinued.

Despite support from Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, and rumours that one of Scotland's biggest employers wishes to make Ms and Mr Brain a job offer, a potential post at a local distillery has collapsed as it did not meet the necessary visa specifications.

Mr Brain continued: "At this stage we are still very much hoping that an employer will come forward and we'll be able to continue moving towards a tier two visa application.

"Of course, what I'd really like is for the Home Office to give us what they promised when we moved here in the first place - a two-year visa with the right to work.

"We have fulfilled our end of the bargain and we still very much want the Home Office to fulfil theirs.

"But failing being dealt with honourably by the UK Government, what I would like is for an employer to come forward and take Kathryn on to enable us to get a permit and be able to stay on in Scotland."

Speaking at a press conference, a spokeswoman for Theresa May said: "On that case it is one that ministers have spoken about before.

"I think, in terms of the details, they do have a temporary leave to remain, currently. We recognise the strength of feeling on this case but there is a need to follow the rules, follow the process and to date they have not lodged a visa application with the Home Office.

"They have temporary leave to remain that doesn't expire until midnight tonight. They have already been given three grace periods of temporary leave in order that they can make an application for a visa."

A day before they were due to be deported on May 31 this year, former immigration minister James Brokenshire gave the family leave to remain in the country until August 1, with his successor Mr Goodwill saying he would be willing to look at extending this if a concrete job offer was made.

Ms Brain has been trying to secure work which meets tier two visa requirements, including a minimum salary threshold of £20,800.

Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon AP Photo - Pool via AP

Mr Brain added the family had been "stunned" by the response to their plight, with people sending cheques to their local MP to help support them. Other SNP MPs including Angus Robertson and Ian Blackford and MSP Kate Forbes have also called on the Home Office to allow the family to stay.

A Home Office spokesperson confirmed with The Independent that any updates would be given after the deadline on July 2.

Additional reporting from the Press Association

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