Laggan village shopkeepers face deportation after visas run out

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A family who run the only shop in a tiny village are being kicked out the country by immigration officials.

Jason and Christy Zielsdorf, from Laggan in Badenoch, who also produce the local newsletter are hoping that a last-ditch plea on their behalf to Home Secretary Theresa May could still spare them.

The family have invested the past two years and well over £200,000 in building up their business which is the only food store serving the remote community for many miles.

They face being thrown out of their adopted home where son Kiernach, five, was born, in the next eight weeks despite having nowhere to go, having exhausted all other avenues of appeals.

The Zielsdorfs, who hail from Canada but moved to Scotland in 2008, have become a vital cog in the small community not only running the Laggan Stores grocers and cafe but also reviving the village’s very own newsletter, Laggan Splash.

They had applied to renew their visa on 27 March last year, but they were informed by immigration officials that the application had been rejected because they had missed the deadline, something they dispute.

Mr Zielsdorf said: “We are told we have been ‘overstayers’ for three months now. Our passports were confiscated last year and we were told we risked losing our benefits unless we immediately complied – that left us wondering just what benefits those were?

“We have never received anything from the state, nor asked it. We have always paid for everything. We even educate our own children at home.”

Badenoch and Strathspey SNP MP Drew Hendry said he is staggered by the stance of the Home Office.

Meanwhile local Highland councillor Gregor Rimell, who lives in Newtonmore, said: “This family have made a significant and valued contribution to their adopted community. This is an extreme example of bureaucracy and the big challenge is to rescue the situation, and look after those whom we value. There are probably hundreds of instances like this. They go through a system and ministers never need to know. It is when it happens on your doorstep that the enormity of the impact is felt.”

At present there has been no response from the Department of Immigration.