AN MP has described the case of a young Australian family who face being deported from Dingwall by the Home Office as “a modern day Highland Clearance”.

Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP Ian Blackford has taken up the case of Gregg and Kathryn Brain and their son Lachlan – whose first language is Gaelic – a professional couple whose great-grandparents were Scottish.

He has written to Immigration Minister James Brokenshire and has tabled an Early Day Motion calling upon the Government to grant the family the right to appeal while remaining in the UK.

“We do not need a modern day Highland Clearance,” said Blackford. “We need families like the Brains to be given the right to stay here.”

The National told yesterday how the family – in response to a 2007 Highland Homecoming initiative – came to Scotland to study, with the intention of eventually working in the heritage industry.

Kathryn’s student visa, which listed her husband and son as dependents, expired in December and the Home Office rejected their application for an interim visa so that the family could continue living and working here. As it is, the couple are not allowed to work and have been told they can only appeal from outside the UK.

Since we broke the story, it has been shared more than 1,000 times on social media and has brought to light other cases where people have experienced problems gaining visas.

One of those concerns Mary Beard, a US citizen who is engaged to Martin McGuire, a Scot with whom she has a three-year-old daughter Molly, as well as Brianna, seven, a daughter from a previous relationship.

The family lives in Spean Bridge, and Beard told The National: “My partner and I are fighting the same battle – they want to deport my seven-year-old and I, break up my whole family.

“I’ve been here for three years, gone for three different visas and spent nearly $100,000 (£70,000) while over here, which has boosted the economy.

“I’ve not been able to work and today got a letter telling me I have to start checking in at the police station every two weeks.

“I don’t want benefits, we don’t want to push people out of jobs. We just want to be left alone so we can raise our family surrounded by family and friends in the Highlands.”

“We can’t even get married here without the right visa.”

She added: “Most families going through this don’t have media coverage, and even when you have the coverage, nothing changes.

“The Home Office will tell you to leave, send you letters saying you have to call them with your flight information and send you to the police station week after week. Why? Because scaremongering is more powerful than the voices of 1,000 people.

“What more can we do? Who can you turn to for human compassion and reason?

“The people who know these families know best, not some person sitting at a desk being paid to read 54 pages of documents and determine someone’s worth and morals.”

Blackford said young families who wanted to contribute to Highland life were just what Scotland needed.

“They are exactly the type of young people required to help grow and sustain our economy,” he said, adding that the Brain family were well regarded in their community and Lachlan was thriving at the local Gaelic primary school.

“Having completed their education, both secured good jobs in the Highlands, and yet the Home Office want to throw them out and send them back to Australia.

“They have been told that they must leave on a technicality and apply to return from within Australia. This is a nonsense – they ought to be given leave to appeal whilst here, which is something I am taking up with the minister.

“We really do need control of immigration here in Scotland so we can determine our own priorities where we can extend a traditional Highland welcome to families like the Brains.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “All visa applications are considered on their individual merits, and applicants must provide evidence to show they meet the requirements of the immigration rules.”

A crowdfunding appeal has been set up by friends to help the Brains fight the deportation at

The National View: Wrong to allow modern version of the Clearances