A CANADIAN family fighting deportation has been told by the Home Office that critical documents, including their birth certificates and tax returns, have gone missing.

Jason and Christy Zielsdorf re-located to Laggan, Inverness-shire, and took over the local shop, investing £200,000 in the business after they settled in the area in 2008.

The couple, who have five children, created a cafe alongside the shop, which was known to millions of viewers of the BBC One series Monarch of the Glen as McKechnie’s, but failed to meet the criteria for a business visa.

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Their application for a Tier One Entrepreneur visa was refused, with officials citing the fact that Mr Zielsdorf only employed one and not two people for 12 months as one of the reasons.

However, now it has emerged that vital paperwork for their application has gone missing.

Officials wrote to Mr Zielsdorf to confirm that after “extensive searches” they had been unable to locate seven different original documents.

It is understood the Home Office is now saying it did not hold on to the documents but sent them back by recorded delivery.

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However, the letter sent to the couple admits that a host of the Zielsdorfs official documents submitted as part of the application – including tax returns, Jason’s Canadian ID, birth and marriage certificates – could not be located.

It is hoped copies of the banking documents can be retrieved so the application can be assessed again but as it stands the Zielsdorf family are facing the prospect of having to leave the country at short notice.

Mr Zielsdorf said: "The only way I can see that (the application being reconsidered) is if the Home Office is willing to allow the assessment to be done again but with the missing documents."

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Drew Hendry, the SNP MP for Inverness Nairn Badenoch and Strathspey, has described the handling of the Zielsdorf family’s visa application as “absolutely unbelievable”.

He has previously raised their case at Prime Minister’s Questions and had an initial request for a meeting with Home Office minister James Brokenshire refused.

Mr Hendry said: "This is absolutely unbelievable.

"The future of a hard working Highland family is quite literally hanging in the balance and not only have their original documents which they entrusted to the Home Office been lost but now a significant reason for their visa being refused has been thrown into question.

"It is another tragic case of the UK’s 'one-size-fits-all' immigration policy with little to no time spent investigating the individual circumstances and gross negligence over the handling of official documents.

“Home Office minister James Brokenshire has so far refused to meet me to discuss the Zielsdorfs case but I am asking again for an urgent meeting and I would expect that leave to remain be granted until the Home Office can get to the bottom of this fiasco.”

A Home Office spokesman said: "All visa applications are carefully considered on their individual merits, in line with the UK immigration rules and based on evidence provided by the applicant.”

The family's case has been highlighted amid a similar controversy over the planned deportation of the Brain family, whose seven-year-old son Lachlan speaks fluent Gaelic.