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Brain family give thanks for 'incredible support' as deportation threat lifted

Published 20/09/2016

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon meeting Gregg and Kathryn Brain and their son Lachlan at the Scottish Parliament
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon meeting Gregg and Kathryn Brain and their son Lachlan at the Scottish Parliament

An Australian family who were fighting deportation from their home in the Highlands have thanked people from across the UK for their "incredible support" after they were granted a visa to remain in the country.

Gregg and Kathryn Brain set up home in Dingwall in 2011 but last month they were advised to quit the UK voluntarily after the Home Office said their leave to remain would not be continued.

It was confirmed on Tuesday that as Mrs Brain had been offered a job with a Highland hotel group, the couple and their seven-year-old son Lachlan could stay.

Mrs Brain told the BBC News channel: "I can't describe the emotions we're feeling, it's relief and excitement.

"I don't think we're going to get much sleep tonight but it'll be for different reasons to what it has been the last few months."

The family initially moved to the UK on Mrs Brain's student visa but a two-year post-study visa scheme then on offer was later withdrawn by the UK Government.

Mr Brain had previously warned the family would be ''homeless, jobless and significantly in debt'' if they were not allowed to remain.

Speaking on Tuesday he said: "We are still significantly in debt even with the incredible support we've had from our community and people right across the UK, but we'll now have the opportunity to work and repay that, so we're very grateful to be given that opportunity."

As part of their fight, they met Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who pledged she would do everything in her power to help.

She welcomed the news and said: "I'm glad the UK Government has finally seen sense on this occasion - but the Brains should not have had this cloud of uncertainty hanging over them for so long.

"This case also illustrates a wider issue, which is that the UK Government must deliver an immigration system that meets Scotland's needs and which allows talented international graduates and others with key skills to remain in Scotland after their studies are complete. We will continue to press for this."

A Home Office spokesman said: "We have always been clear with the Brain family that if a suitable job offer was received an application to remain in the UK would be considered.

"We gave them a number of extensions on an exceptional basis to allow them to try to secure a job that would allow them to meet the immigration rules.

"Mrs Brain was subsequently offered a job with a hotel group. This has been considered and we are satisfied that it meets the conditions for a tier two visa.

"Today we have written to Mrs Brain and confirmed that she and her family have been granted leave to remain in the UK."

Ian Blackford, MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, had also raised the plight of the family in the House of Commons, telling MPs Lachlan has been taught to read and write in Gaelic not English.

Mr Blackford tweeted: "Victory for the Brains! I am delighted the home office have seen sense and allowed the family the right to remain. Thanks to all for support."

Mrs Brain joked the next job will be finding her son's toys.

She said: "The next challenge is finding a house to live and get our things back out of storage, Lachlan's toys have all been in storage for the last seven months."

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