THE Highlands were awash with messages of support and congratulations last night after a young Australian family won their battle to remain in Scotland.

Kathryn and Gregg Brain, and seven-year-old Lachlan, made headlines when The National told of their struggle to stay in Dingwall, where they have lived for five years, because the UK Government scrapped the post-study work visa they had pinned their hopes on.

Two job offers for Kathryn fell through, but now she is set to become museum curator for Macdonald Hotels and Resorts at their flagship Aviemore resort.

In an exclusive interview, they told The National: “We have had a win, and have our visas, for this year at least. It is true that we have been extremely unlucky, caught by a retroactive change to rules at the hands of a bureaucracy who couldn’t see the honourable course to resolve what they had done.

“We have also been extremely blessed – to have such close friends… and community to support us, the tireless support of our MP who has stayed the course with us, and an employer of Mr Macdonald’s integrity and faith to save our family. We have also been very lucky that the media has taken such an interest in our story – and for coming to us and giving us a voice, we’d like to thank you.”

However, the family asked their supporters to remember the other families who were also having problems in their dealings with the Home Office.

“There are the Johnsons in Tain, the Zielsdorfs in Laggan, the Monongo families, and hundreds of others whose lives are on hold, who don’t know from one month to the next what country they and their families will be living in,” they said.

“There are those who we know are remaining silent, in fear for what the Home Office will do to their next application if they speak up. For whatever, reason, these people do not have the voice we have been given, and this is not right.”

The Brains’ news came yesterday in a phone call from the Home Office to David McGlashan, the family’s lawyer, who specialises in immigration issues.

He said: “I am absolutely delighted by this result which will take a lot of stress and strain away from Kathryn and Gregg and especially wee Lachlan, who seemed mesmerised by the whole thing. I think he didn’t realise why there was such a threat to his staying here.”

A Home Office spokesman said they had always been clear that if a suitable job offer was received an application to remain in the UK would be considered – and the Macdonald’s job met the rules.

“This has been considered and we are satisfied that it meets the conditions for a Tier 2 visa,” he said. “Today we have written to Mrs Brain and confirmed that she and her family have been granted leave to remain in the UK.”

The case was championed at Westminster by Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP Ian Blackford, who said the decision was a victory for common sense: “I am grateful to the Home Office for ultimately doing the right thing but the family should never have been in this position and their lives have been completely turned upside down in the past few months.

“The Brain family have only ever expected the arrangements of their original visa to be honoured by the UK Government – the post-study work visa would have allowed them to continue contributing to the local economy in the Highlands without the family being forced out of their home or relying on the charity of the local community to make ends meet.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon – who met with the family at Holyrood – said she was delighted with the result: “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.”

The family’s MSP Kate Forbes added: “It has been a tough few months for the Brain family, but now that things are starting to settle down, I’m delighted to see them getting back to normality. As I’ve always said, this family is part of the community and Dingwall is home. That’s why it’s so important that they are able to settle down once again.”

Gaelic performance artist Ariel Killick, who had also voiced her support for the Brains, said: “This is undoubtedly fantastic news and those in the Brain’s Highland community, local and national Scottish political representatives and media, including, of course, the passionate and continued advocacy of The National, all deserve our great appreciation and thanks.

“It has also shown just how much members of Scotland’s Clearances Diaspora want to return to the land their ancestors were forced from, and Kathryn and Gregg Brain’s enduring tenacity shows just how hard some of us are willing to fight to stay here.”