A Falkirk couple married for 30 years are battling the British Government for the right to stay together.
Pensioners William and Anna Meikle were forced to quit Anna’s native South Africa and return to William’s home town in 2014 just 18 months after the owner of the company they worked for was murdered and the business collapsed.
But under the stress of having to leave the country that had been his home for 45 years, William (71) failed to make sure the proper paperwork that would have allowed his wife to stay here was completed, and now immigration officials have told her she is to be detained and kicked out of the UK.
Anna (65) has been issued with a notice of liability to removal which means she could be put on a plane and deported at any time.
The couple from Symon Tower in Falkirk have been fighting the Home Office enforcers through the courts but all their appeals have been rejected.
William, who was born in Shieldhill and worked with bookbinders Dunn and Wilson before starting a new life in South Africa in 1969, said: “I assumed that being Scottish I was entitled to bring my wife back. I did not know I was breaking the law. I did not know the rules and regulations until we got back to Scotland.
“We came home with Anna on a temporary visa for six months and I assumed we would be able to extend that and eventually get her full citizenship quite easily given she is my wife. The situation is utterly unbearable. All we are asking is for a little bit of common sense and compassion. We have been through every appeal and tribunal and been refused at every turn and now there are no more options.
“They have told us Anna has no right to be here and we are now expecting some sort of deportation notice to come through the door any day now. The reality is we are just waiting for Anna to be deported and it could come at any time. We are just waiting for the axe to fall after 30 years together.”
The Home Office are demanding Anna returns to South Africa and apply for a spouse visa from there.
But the couple say to get that paperwork requires certain criteria being met which would be impossible.
William said: “For the visa you need £60,000 in the bank and need to earn £18,000 so the reality is Anna will never get back in if she is forced to leave.”
Anna admitted: “It is very stressful and frightening. I am just waiting to be dragged off and put on a flight. It is awful. I have nothing to go back to and I need my husband.
“I was an orphan and my adopted parents are dead, so I have nothing in South Africa. My family are the Meikles. They have always been the people who were there for me.”
Falkirk MP John McNally has written to Home Secretary Amber Rudd asking for a face to face meeting to discuss the case.
He said: “The minute I knew about the Meikles’ traumatic situation my heart went out to them. To be treated so appallingly is bad enough, but at this time in their lives it’s shocking. To potentially tear apart a law abiding married couple is senseless and frankly has resulted in a terrifying situation for them. They have my full support and I will be doing everything in my power to help them stay in Scotland where they belong.”
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “All applications are considered on their individual merits, including any exceptional or compassionate circumstances, and in line with the Immigration Rules.
“The decision to refuse Mrs Meikle’s application has been upheld in the courts. We expect people with no legal basis to remain in the UK to leave the country voluntarily. Individuals who wish to settle in the UK should make the application from outwith the UK.”