A SCOTS deputy headteacher faces being separated from his Australian wife and son as they have been told they must go back home and get proper visas before returning to the UK.
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Gary Boyd, who works at Kirkwall Grammar School in Orkney, has no idea when he will see his wife Kristee, 33, and his 15-year-old stepson Kyle again because of immigration rules.
The Boyds were told that their Indefinite Leave to Remain visas had run out after they returned to the UK following a five-year spell abroad. While the visa allows people to reside permanently in the UK without limit, the rules say it is void if the holders spend two years or more overseas.
Edinburgh-born Mr Boyd, 43, must decide whether to stay on Orkney or quit the job he took up in November and join his family while the visa wrangle is resolved. His three-year-old daughter Nyah could potentially stay in Orkney with Mr Boyd, but the family have yet to decide if she should go to Australia with Kristee and Kyle.
Mrs Boyd and Kyle have six-month visitor visas, but they expired yesterday.
Immigration Minister Damian Green said Mrs Boyd could apply to remain on a "discretionary basis outside the immigration rules", but the UK Border Agency "can give no assurance that her circumstances would be considered so exceptional" as to grant it. There was also no right of appeal.
To get the new visas, Mr Boyd's wife and son will now have to show knowledge of the English language and UK culture by passing a Life in the UK test.
The family have been told the process could take up to six months, but there is no guarantee of immediate success.
The Boyds say the Border Agency is insisting they have to follow the rules and apply for appropriate entry clearance from Australia.
Mr Boyd said: "We want common sense to prevail here. All families want to stay together, it's a basic human right."
A spokesman for the UK Border Agency said: "Our rules are clear that Indefinite Leave to Remain lapses if the person in possession of it is absent from the UK for more than two years, unless specific exemption criteria apply."