Visa rules stop former soldier’s family settling in UK

05 Jan 2016 | Posted by Carl Thomas

A former soldier who fought in Afghanistan says he has been forced to leave Britain because his wife and daughter cannot obtain a UK visa.

Andrew McLaughlin, who served in the Grenadier Guards in Helmand province, does not earn the minimum threshold of £18,600 to allow wife Wanda and daughter Gracie, two, to settle in the UK.

The family have been separated for six months and Mr McLaughlin said he was now planning his future in the US to live with them.

He told the Birmingham Mail: “I’m being forced out of my own country. I fought for my country and it hurts that no-one is willing to fight for me.

“I’ve no choice but to leave because I’m not going to miss out on my daughter’s life. I feel totally let down.”

The former soldier, who grew up in Warwickshire, met Wanda in 2011 when he was visiting friends and relatives in America. He has dual UK and US nationality because his father is from Pennsylvania. Wanda is originally from Puerto Rico.

When she arrived in the UK last summer, she was detained at Heathrow Airport and questioned. Because she did not have the correct UK visa, she was told she had to return to the US within one week.

“They wouldn’t let me see her, or my daughter, for hours,” said Mr McLaughlin.

“When I finally got through to someone and told them I was a combat veteran they said: ‘I couldn’t care less.’”

He wanted the family to settle in the UK so his daughter could learn about her British roots. However, his job as a driver does not pay enough to meet Government regulations for British spouses who want their non-EU partners to live in the UK with them.