Highlands & Islands

Deportation family accuse Home Office of 'breach of trust'

Brain family Image copyright EPA
Image caption The Brain family came to Scotland from Australia

An Australian family fighting deportation from the UK have accused the Home Office of "a rather extraordinary breach of trust".

They said the government changed immigration rules after they were granted entry to the UK.

Kathryn and Gregg Brain moved to Dingwall in the Highlands with their son Lachlan, now seven, in 2011.

They have been giving evidence to Westminster's Home Affairs Select Committee.

The couple moved to the Highlands on Ms Brain's student visa, but the post-study visa scheme was later withdrawn. The couple now face deportation.

The Scottish government initiative, formerly supported by the Home Office, was designed to attract people to live and work in the Highlands and Islands.

'Beyond question'

The announcement of the discontinuation of the post-study work visa scheme came in March 2011, just three months before the Brain family arrived in Scotland.

However, they had been accepted for the scheme in 2010 and were unaware of the changes until 2012.

The couple have since had temporary extensions to their stay in the UK.

In May, they were told they could stay until 1 August, but that they would not be allowed to work.

Mr Brain told the MPs: "In a country that prides itself on being the birthplace of the rule of law, to assume you will be dealt with ethically and honestly by the UK government should simply be beyond question.

"They [the Home Office] had to envisage that people would have to plan this far ahead to be able to successfully execute the programme that they provided.

"That is why I felt it was a rather extraordinary breach of trust when we had a letter from Mr Brokenshire [Home Office minister] which said... 'applicants should never assume that provisions that are in place at the time of their entry to the UK will continue to be viable options in future years'."

Home Office Minister James Brokenshire also gave evidence to the committee.

Ahead of the meeting, SNP MP Ian Blackford urged Mr Brokenshire to honour the original terms of the family's visa.

Brains' visa timeline

  • The family moved to the Highlands in 2011 on Mrs Brain's student visa and she intended to later move on to a post-study work visa
  • However, the Home Office cancelled this visa scheme, which had been set up with an aim to attract professionals to the UK
  • Mr Brain has been working and had an offer of a new job, but that fell through after a change in his prospective employers' circumstances
  • The new job would have fitted with the Home Office points-based visa system
  • Immigration Minister James Brokenshire said he "exceptionally extended" the family's "grace period" to remain in the UK until 12 April and then again on the 28 April, then the end of May
  • The Brains were then told they could stay until August, but were told they would not be allowed to work

Earlier this month, the Brains gave evidence on their situation to Westminster's Scottish Affairs Committee.

The committee was holding a session at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the national centre for Gaelic language in Sleat in Skye.

The MPs also took evidence on the challenges faced by rural communities and population trends in the Highlands and Islands.

Skye has been successful in increasing its populations, but other areas, such as the Western Isles, have experienced depopulation.

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