Release Me Agnes
1 August 2016, 12:35
An Australian family facing deportation from the UK say they will not give up their fight to stay, as a deadline to meet visa requirements expired.
Kathryn and Gregg Brain moved to Dingwall in the Scottish Highlands with their son Lachlan, now seven, in 2011.
They applied and moved from Australia on Mrs Brain's student visa, but a two-year post-study visa scheme then on offer was later withdrawn by the government.
Mrs Brain must secure a job in order for the family to stay, but a potential post at a local distillery fell through as it did not meet the necessary visa specifications.
Mr Brain told the Press Association: "At this stage we are still very much hoping that an employer will come forward and we'll be able to continue moving towards a tier two visa application.
"Of course, what I'd really like is for the Home Office to give us what they promised when we moved here in the first place - a two-year visa with the right to work.
"We have fulfilled our end of the bargain and we still very much want the Home Office to fulfil theirs.
"But failing being dealt with honourably by the UK Government, what I would like is for an employer to come forward and take Kathryn on to enable us to get a permit and be able to stay on in Scotland.''
The government announced the discontinuation of the post-study work visa scheme in March 2011, three months before the Brain family arrived in Scotland.
Mr Brain said they applied and been accepted for the scheme in 2010, and did not become aware of the changes to the rules until two years later, shortly before they came into effect.
A day before they were due to be deported on May 31 this year, immigration minister James Brokenshire gave the family leave to remain in the country until August 1.
His successor Robert Goodwill has said he would be willing to look at extending this if a concrete job offer was made, Mr Brain said.
Mrs Brain has been trying to secure work which meets tier two visa requirements, including a minimum salary threshold of #20,800.
The owner of a large employer in the Highlands is understood to be keen to help the Brains but time looks to have run out.
Mr Brain said: "We spent 10 years trying to plan to get here in the first place - it's been a dream of ours since years before Lachlan was born.
"It's not something we can put aside lightly.
"It's the injustice of it, the thousands of students who were robbed when this deal was retro-actively torn up.
"I just cannot accept this, I want the UK Government to give us what they promised us when they enticed us to sell our homes and bring that equity to the UK.
"Neither one of us have been allowed to work since mid-March and we have been living on the charity of friends, the church and strangers.''
Mr Brain said the family had been "stunned'' by the response to their plight, with people sending cheques to their local MP to help support them.