AN Australian family threatened with deportation have been told they can stay in Scotland until August but will not be allowed to work.
The Brain family, who have been living in the country since 2011, were initially told they had until today to leave the UK.
But following a campaign on their behalf, which included the case being raised at Prime Minister’s Questions, SNP MP Ian Blackford last night said the Home Office had granted them leave to remain until 1 August.
However, he called on government minister James Brokenshire to “urgently rethink” the “pigheaded” decision to refuse Kathryn and Gregg Brain the right to work.
Earlier this month, the UK government said the family, from Dingwall, had twice been given extra time to help them meet visa rules. Mr Blackford said the case was a human rights issue because the couple’s seven-year-old son, Lachlan, speaks Gaelic as his first language and is in Gaelic-medium education. The MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber said he had received a letter via e-mail which informed him the family would be granted leave to remain.
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He said: “I find it utterly incredulous that Home Office minister James Brokenshire has decided to extend the Brain family’s right to stay in their home in Scotland but refused to grant them the right to work.
“How does he expect Kathryn, Gregg and Lachlan to make ends meet until the beginning of August while the UK government refuses to allow them to work?
“The Tories must urgently re-think this unfair and pigheaded decision – it cannot be right that a young family should have to live with such uncertainty and worry to continue to stay in their home.”
Mr Blackford said the couple both had jobs in the area which were a benefit to the local economy.
The Brains, who have Scottish ancestry, moved to Scotland as part of a scheme backed by the Home Office and the Scottish Government to attract people to live and work in the Highlands and Islands. However, the Home Office closed the scheme in 2012 and Mr and Mrs Brain were required to comply with different visa criteria.
Last night the Home Office said the family had been granted a two-month extension to their period of grace but had yet to provide evidence of a job in line with immigration rules. A spokesman said an application to remain in the UK would be considered if submitted during the grace period.