The British Immigration Minister James Brokenshire announced this afternoon that 7-year old Australian Lachlan Brain no longer faces immediate threat of deportation from Scotland.
The announcement came after intense public and political pressure was placed on the UK government to allow the young Gaelic speaker and his parents to remain in the Highlands, their home for the past five years.
The public campaign to stop the family's deportation also resulted in a job offer for Lachlan’s mother, Kathryn Brain, which should allow the family to comply with their visa requirements.
Despite being fluent in Gaelic, the Celtic language native to Scotland that is very closely linked to the Irish language, Lachlan’s family had been given until next Tuesday to leave Scotland, as Kathryn and her husband Gregg had not succeeded in finding jobs that completely fulfilled the terms of their visa application.
Lachlan moved from Australia to Dingwall in the Highlands almost five years ago with his parents Greg and Kathryn as part of the Highland homecoming program, a scheme heavily advertised in Australia which encouraged those of Scottish descent to return to the country and help to repopulate the Highlands.
Both having Scottish roots, Kathryn enrolled in a degree in Scottish history and archaeology to earn a student visa, listing her husband and son as dependants.
The family’s visa expired in December 2015 after Kathryn finished her degree and the Home Office rejected their case to stay. On moving to Scotland, the family had planned to apply for a post-study work visa, a program which the government has since canceled.
The family’s local MP Ian Blackford has been a vocal supporter of the family’s case, bringing the question of their deportation to debate in British parliament.
The Scottish National Party leader Angus Robertson also raised the case at prime minister’s questions, where he urged Chancellor George Osmond, filling in for David Cameron, to reassess the family’s situation.
It's difficult to convince an employer you're worth a £4000 signing bonus"— Victoria Derbyshire (@VictoriaLIVE) May 25, 2016
- Greg Brain's family faces deportation https://t.co/WGGjeoMVo7
As a result the family are no longer believed to be in any immediate risk.
“I am meeting the honourable member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber [Blackford] again this afternoon to further discuss this matter,” said Brokenshire.
“He can be assured that the family does not face an imminent risk of immediate deportation.”
The massive media drive by the Brain family highlighting their deportation order despite moving to Scotland during a time when attempts are being made to repopulate the area has resulted in Kathyrn Brain securing a job which should comply with UK immigration rules.
She will now begin on a part-time basis with GlenWyvis Distillery near Dingwall, a project that aims to be the world’s first community-owned, renewables-powered facility of its kind.
“In short, Kathryn is highly qualified and exactly the person we’re looking for,” said GlenWyvis owner John McKenzie, speaking on the radio phone-in of former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond.
“We’ve just hit the halfway point in our funding with £750,000 [$1.1 million] of the £1.5 million [$2.2 million] we’re looking to raise and we’re at the point where we can start recruiting for further staff for marketing during the final phase of fundraising over the next 30 days.
“Kathryn’s qualifications, her degree in Scottish history and archaeology is absolutely ideal, and to find somebody with that qualification so close is tremendous.
“In fact the family have been living in the street where I was born, just a couple of doors down so it’s a match – the high profile nature of the GlenWyvis project and the frustration of the Brains’ predicament – hopefully a last-gasp job offer might save the day.”
“Initially the job is in a temporary capacity until they reach their full funding potential – the share closing is on June 24 – with a view to that position becoming permanent,” continued Kathryn Brain.
“It would fit perfectly with the qualifications I’ve received as a result of the degree that I’ve just completed. But the way things stand, we’re supposed to be out of the country by Tuesday and I don’t have the right to work just now, so it’s an impossible situation as things stand.”
Salmond has also called the job-offer a “game-changer.”
“If it’s a temporary job it will require ministerial discretion, but from what Kathryn is saying she’s got the prospect of a job under what’s called tier two in a permanent capacity,” he told The National.
Gregg Brain has now called on the UK Home Office “to live up to their side of the deal,” commending the local community for their support.
“We have been overwhelmed by the response and it just reinforced our belief that this is the community where we want to bring up our son,” he said.
The family are due to meet with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon this afternoon, who last week wrote to UK Home Secretary Theresa May on their behalf.The National