AN elderly Canadian woman and her Scots husband are being forced to spend thousands of pounds sending her on a round trip of more than 5000 miles so she can apply for a spouse visa from her home country.

And their MP, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford, said the case of Philip and Elizabeth Gellatly, who had settled in Beauly, highlighted “the increasing problem with the UK’s broken immigration system”.

The couple were cohabiting from 2012 and married in Grantown-on-Spey in 2015. In the past eight years they have only been apart for six weeks, when she returned to Canada to have her biometrics completed for an ancestry visa – her grandmother was born in Oxford and her father’s side of the family have links with Beith, Ayrshire.

In 2016, they moved to Canada, but returned to Scotland last year after Philip took ill, and settled in the Highlands, unaware that she would not automatically be granted leave to remain here. When they returned via Dublin, her passport was only stamped for a 90-day stay, and now the 73-year-old will have to return to Canada to apply for the spouse visa.

Gellatly, 69, a retired merchant seaman, told The National he had never been so worried or angry.

“I wrongly assumed that our Scottish marriage certificate superseded any visa taking into account that we married in Scotland, and it never entered our heads that we needed a spouse visa,” he said.

“Jane and I have been together since day one – we love each other dearly. I was ill when we decided to come back.

“We came home through Dublin because I don’t like going anywhere near England. I worked there for years when I was in the merchant navy and I’ve no wish to go back there.

“My wife is 73 years of age, she’s got ADHD, so she couldn’t even go back on her own even if she wanted to because she’d be lost.

“She’s a lovely woman and I think it’s so sad. We’re both really worried about this and I have never been so angry.

“Jane has been crying a lot. She can’t go back on her own and she doesn’t really have anything to go back to.

“It says in the rules that if you come from a Commonwealth country you’re allowed to stay here for six months and my wife comes from New Brunswick in Canada, which is a Commonwealth country.”

He added that they only thought there might be a problem after Boris Johnson became Prime Minister and his wife was worried about how changes to immigration rules could affect her.

“I said ‘don’t worry Jane, you’re married to a Scottish national, nobody’s going to bother you’ but lo and behold when we phoned up, one immigration official said we could sort it all out here, and another one said you’ve got to go back to Canada.

“One said she could stay longer than three months, another said because we came through Dublin she was only entitled to three months.”

Blackford said: “The situation that Mr and Mrs Gellatly find themselves in highlights the increasing problem with the UK’s broken immigration system.

“Many cases could be cleared up a lot quicker but for the lack of common sense and compassion in their review and the inability of staff, due to imposed restrictions on them to give detailed responses, feedback and discussion.

“The case of the Gellatlys is a prime example of those who have fallen foul of the system. It is completely immoral to say that Mrs Gellatly … has to return to Canada to submit a spouse visa application and await the outcome of this.

“The Gellatlys were always going to return to the UK to live out the remainder of their lives.

“Instead, a genuine lack of knowledge in immigration law is going to cost them dearly, but also due to a lack of common sense in the part of immigration services who could waive this restriction and allow the forms to be lodged from their home in Scotland.”

Their lawyer, Usman Aslam, said: “It is regrettable that this elderly couple are in this situation.

“We are aiming to submit an application for entry clearance on their behalf and hope for a positive outcome so that they can continue their lives in Scotland which they see as their home.

“We will explore all avenues to make this work for them and hope that common sense will prevail in the end.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “All visa applications are considered on their individual merits, on the basis of the evidence available, and in line with the immigration rules.”