AN American couple who own a bed and breakfast in the Highlands have spoken of their anguish after being given just a month to leave the UK.

Russell and Ellen Felber, who are originally from New York, have invested £400,000 in the property in Inverness after coming to Scotland almost six years ago on a five-year entrepreneur visa.

After extending the visa for two years, they ran into problems when they applied to the Home Office earlier this year for leave to remain in the UK, so they could become permanent residents.

They said that they complied with requirements on employing staff, and hired one person to work in the guest house for two years to gain the necessary extension according to the rules.

However, they failed a further Home Office test to ensure they could stay in the UK.

Mr Felber, 59, said: “We got the notice of removal on Friday – the week before Christmas. My wife got very stressed and off we went to the hospital again and that’s where she is now. She can’t understand what went wrong with the application.

“We have all these papers and application forms stating that we must create an aggregate of at least two full-time posts for at least 12 months each – and this is on the final application of the indefinite leave to remain form.”

Mr Russell added that in addition to the £400,000 investment, they had paid £7,000 in fees over the five years and are contributing to the local economy.

He added: “If you look at TripAdvisor and reviews you can see how well the business is doing – we are regularly given four and five-star reviews, our ratings are very high.

“My wife is in hospital just now, but she’s in tears and can’t understand what’s happening. We don’t know when she’ll get home.”

Their local MP Drew Hendry said: “This is yet another case where a couple, working hard, being successful and adding to our community and local economy are being forced out of the Highlands by a ruthlessly dogmatic Home Office. To see yet another case of folk valued and welcomed by their neighbours being treated so heartlessly is just another signal of the UK Government’s manifest lack of understanding of the Highlands and its people.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “We do not routinely comment on individual cases.

“All applications are carefully considered on their individual merits, in line with the UK immigration rules and based on evidence provided by the applicant.”