A BOY who speaks Gaelic as his first language and has lived in Scotland for four years is facing deportation to Australia.
Lachlan Brain, seven, and his parents could be kicked out after the Home Office refused the family an interim visa.
His parents, Gregg and Kathryn, set up home in Dingwall, near Inverness, after the UK government advertised in Australia for people to help repopulate the Highlands.
The couple, from Brisbane, Queensland, visited Scotland in 2001 and 2005 before Kathryn took a place at the University of the Highlands and Islands to study Scottish History and Archaeology.
Despite living in Scotland since 2011 and having Scottish family links, the Home Office is now refusing to let the family stay on the grounds that Kathryn’s student visa has expired.
Lachlan, a pupil at Dingwall Primary, said: “I would be really sad if I had to leave to go to Australia and I really hope that we get to stay in Scotland.
“My friends are here and we would all miss each other very much.
“I like my school, teachers and friends who I have known from Croileagan [nursery] since I was two and I don’t remember anyone from Australia, except Gramps and Pop.
“I don’t want to leave all my aunties, uncles and cousins in Dingwall and Strathpeffer.”
Lachlan’s teacher, Rachel-Ann Urquhart, said that removing Lachlan from his Gaelic education would cause him to suffer “both socially and academically.”
She continued: “I believe that in Lachlan’s best interests he should remain at Dingwall Primary, where he is successfully learning and achieving through the medium of Gaelic.”
Local MP Ian Blackford has written to Immigration Minister James Brokenshire.
He said: “This is utterly ridiculous.
“It demonstrates all the shortcomings in the UK immigration policy that people who are here and are making a contribution to our economy, and who want to stay and live here, are being forced out.”
Gregg said they had carefully researched their move to Scotland following the first trip almost 15 years ago.
He said: “We came over again in 2005 for a few weeks to take the holidaymakers’ glasses off to see if it could be made to work, and between 2005 and 2011 it was a case of trying to get visas and making it happen logistically.”
Kathryn added: “We were responding to the 2007 Highland homecoming programme the Scottish Government were promoting in Australia, which was also backed by the Home Office.
“They laid out the progression you could make to come back and help repopulate the Highlands.”
Although Gregg had been working full-time and Kathryn had been offered a job, Kathryn’s student visa expired in December, and both were told that they could not work in the U.K.
Gregg added: “We are willing to culturally and linguistically assimilate, paying our own way, willing to live and work in a sparsely populated area and we’ve been told we have to leave.”
A Facebook Page named “Help the Brain Family with their fight to stay in the U.K” has been created, and has received over 230 likes.
One user, Laura Mulholland, posted: “Only just discovered your page and feel heartbroken for this family, it’s disgusting to rip a young boy from his home it’s awful really hope something can be done…”
Dawn Morgan said: “Very sad news – really feel for them.”
Ian Blackford added: “It’s a nonsense that the big stick of the U.K Government is forcing these people out on a technicality. They have never taken a penny off of the state.
“They are here to make a living and Lachlan’s enjoying the benefit of Gaelic education.
“We want young families to settle here, participate in the culture and become part of the life here, but the U.K Government is saying ‘no’ – it’s barking mad.”
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.”
In another ongoing deportation controversy, the American percussionist, Dr Steve Foreman, who has played with David Bowie and Pink Floyd, still faces being returned to the US.
Dr Forman lived in Scotland for six years before being faced with deportation, and taught at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) in Glasgow.
He won the right to stay in the U.K after having an “exceptionally strong and compelling” case for being allowed to remain but the Home Office is still appealing the case.
Officials also wanted to deport woman who has a Scottish mother; has lived in Scotland for nearly 30 years and who is married to a Scot.
Crystal MacIver, 44, was threatened with deportation because of an administrative oversight made 29 years ago.
Alrhough Ms MacIver was born in Massachusetts, she moved to Ayrshire when she was 14-years-old, and has now been confirmed as a British citizen.