Australian family scrambles to beat deportation from Scottish Highlands

Mon Aug 1, 2016 7:48am EDT
 
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By Elisabeth O'Leary

EDINBURGH (Reuters) - An Australian family living in the Scottish Highlands face deportation on Monday if a high-profile bid to comply with UK visa requirements fails.

Gregg and Kathryn Brain are hoping for a last minute job offer or a British interior ministry extension allowing them to stay, with their seven-year-old son Lachlan, after a deadline on their visa extension runs out at midnight.

The Brains moved from Brisbane to Scotland in 2011 on Mrs Brain's temporary student visa, which then allowed her to seek work afterwards as part of a British government-backed scheme to help shore up an ageing and shrinking population in the Highlands.

Visa rules were then changed, however, with an eye to addressing voter concerns on immigration in the UK as a whole. Immigration was at the centre of Britain's June vote to leave the European Union.

"One option is that there is mercy and compassion, and the Home Office (interior ministry) decides to offer an extension or find another way that they can stay," Scottish lawmaker Kate Forbes, who is helping the Brains, told Reuters.

The family's campaign to stay in Scotland, where their son has learned the ancient Scots language Gaelic, led them to a meeting with the devolved Scottish government First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who personally appealed to the British government on their behalf in May.

An offer of work at a local distillery for Kathryn Brain, who studied Scottish history, was withdrawn last month after it became unclear whether it fulfilled immigration and employment regulations.

The legal complexities of the visa system meant more time was needed for job offers to be vetted for their suitability in resolving their predicament, Forbes said.   Continued...