Australian family in Scotland wins more time but no work visa

Mon May 30, 2016 6:14pm EDT
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EDINBURGH (Reuters) - An Australian family battling deportation from Scotland has been granted the right to stay until August but denied a work visa, a decision their parliamentary representative described on Monday as "pigheaded".

The case of Kathryn and Gregg Brain has attracted much attention because Scotland's need to attract workers to offset its aging and shrinking population clashes with the perception in some of the rest of the country that Britain attracts too many immigrants.

They arrived in Scotland in 2011 as part of a drive to boost rural communities but the visa scheme which allowed them to study and then work in Britain afterwards was later canceled under tighter immigration laws.

"(The government) must urgently rethink this unfair and pigheaded decision," said Scottish National Party lawmaker Ian Blackford, adding that the couple, who have a 7-year-old son, would have difficulty making ends meet until then if not allowed to work.

"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," he said.

Kathryn studied Scottish history and has been offered work at a local distiller and Gregg is a health and safety expert who last week described his family as a perfect example of successful immigrants, the kind of immigrants the dwindling economy of Scotland's outlying areas needs.

Immigration is a key focus in Britain's EU referendum vote on June 23, and the huge numbers of migrants entering from the bloc and elsewhere in recent years is viewed by many voters as negative, particularly in southern Britain.

Their son Lachlan has learnt Scotland's ancient Gaelic language at school, something which prompts Scottish cultural sympathies in a country where secessionists are the dominant political party, at odds with the British government in London.

The Brains made their case public last week, and met with Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in hopes of overturning the decision to deport them, which was to take effect on May 31.

(Reporting by Elisabeth O'Leary; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Kathryn (L) and Lachlan Brain sit in Scotland's devolved Parliament after meeting Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in Edinburgh, Scotland, May 26, 2016. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne