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31 May 2016, 11:26
The father of a family threatened with deportation from Scotland to Australia has claimed the UK Government is "untrustworthy in their dealings with immigrants'' after being allowed to remain in the UK until August but refused the right to work.
Gregg Brain moved from Australia to Dingwall with his wife Kathryn and their son Lachlan in 2011. Lachlan, who is now seven, has Gaelic as his first language.
The father and son came to Scotland as dependants of Mrs Brain, who was on a student visa at a time when a two-year post-study visa was in existence, but the scheme was later abolished.
Mr Brain said: "If I can quote from (Immigration Minister) James Brokenshire's letter, he said that applicants should never assume that the provisions in place at the time of their initial entry to the UK will continue to be viable options in future years.
"Unfortunately it seems that the UK Government's stated policy on the matter is to be untrustworthy in their dealings with immigrants.''
He added: "Well, at the moment we're essentially homeless but for the charity of friends. We're unemployed, our passports have been confiscated, the Home Office has said that they will be writing to the DVLA recommending that our licences be cancelled and they are considering freezing our bank accounts.''
Mr Brain said the family were "very fortunate'' in that Lachlan had a seven-year-old's understanding of what was going on, adding "that's shielding him to a degree''.
He added that the family was taking an "enormous amount of courage and comfort'' from the support of friends and across the political spectrum.
He said: "Britain prides itself on being the birthplace of the rule of law, that when you are dealing with the UK Government, I think you have a right to assume that you will be dealt with honestly and ethically. The deal that you have done with them when you uphold your end of the bargain they would uphold theirs.
"Unfortunately, as James Brokenshire's letter seems to indicate, he seems to suggest that making that assumption is a dangerous thing to do.''
The family's MP, SNP Ian Blackford, said the latest Home Office ruling was "simply wrong''.
The MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber said: "It's a body blow both to themselves but also to the wider community. It's simply wrong and it just seems absolutely incredible that when both Kathryn and Gregg have job offers on the table that the Government are really doing what they can to stymie them.
"And we need to remember that the family have to show that they have sufficient funds to support themselves. But their savings are being drawn down simply because of the fact that they can't work, you would almost take the view that the Government are trying to force them out the country.''
The Home Office confirmed it had granted the family a further two-month extension to a grace period it was previously given, but said evidence of a relevant job in line with immigration rules had not been provided to date.
It said an application for the family to remain in the UK would be considered if submitted during the grace period.