‘We are practically penniless’: Scottish family are left with nothing and returning to the UK homeless as they face being thrown out of Australia after a decade because firm sponsoring their visa went bust
- Electrical expert Mark Green, 44, was headhunted for his solar installation skills in 2012 and flown to Australia
- He moved from Prestwick, Ayrshire, to new home in Adelaide, with wife Kelly, 45, and daughter Rebecca, 19
- He was sponsored by the firm, but employers repeatedly went out of business before he could get residency
- The family have spent more than £85,000 on trying to stay in Australia, but are set to be deported this week
- They are devastated at having to leave and will even need to abandon pet dog due to £20,000 quarantine fees
A despairing Scottish father whose family is being kicked out of Australia – despite living and working there for more than ten years – says he faces returning to the UK ‘practically penniless’ and essentially homeless.
Electrical expert Mark Green, 44, was headhunted for his specialist solar installation skills in 2012 and flown to Australia with his wife Kelly, 45, and 19-year-old daughter Rebecca – who was eight at the time.
He moved 10,000 miles from Prestwick, Ayrshire, to his new home in Adelaide, on Australia’s southern coast, with the promise of their permanent residency being sponsored by the company flying him in.
But on the seven occasions he has been eligible, his employer has folded before the paperwork could be completed – or failed to submit it all together.
The family will now be thrown out of the country next week, unless the Australian government intervenes to save them.
But with little hope of an 11th-hour reprieve, Mr Green has already spent £6,000 (AU$10,500) on three flights back to Scotland – where he will likely have to rely on his elderly parents to provide temporary accommodation.
The family have spent more than £85,000 (AU$150,000) on attempting to stay in the country, while relocating to the UK is likely to set them back a further £35,000 (AU$60,000).
And they face the added despair of leaving behind their two beloved pets, five-year-old miniature labradoodle Maisie and 10-year-old rabbit Marmaduke, because of the prohibitive £20,000 (AU$35,000) cost of flights and quarantine fees.
A despairing Mr Green told MailOnline: ‘I’m practically penniless. This has essentially been a decade-long bankruptcy holiday.
‘It’s devastating. Everything I’ve been working for for the last 10 years is gone. I feel completely let down by the Australian government – because they’ve got the power to sort this out.’
Electrical expert Mark Green, 44, was headhunted for his specialist solar installation skills in 2012 and flown out to Australia with his wife Kelly, 45, and daughter Rebecca, 19
He moved 10,000 miles from Prestwick, Ayrshire, to his new home in Adelaide, on Australia’s southern coast, with the promise of their permanent residency being sponsored by the company flying him in
Relocating to the UK is set to cost the family $60,000 – and will force them to leave their beloved pet dog Maisie (pictured with mum Kelly, left, and daughter Rebecca) behind because of prohibitive $35,000 flights and quarantine fees
They face the added despair of leaving behind their two beloved pets, five-year-old miniature labradoodle Maisie (pictured) and 10-year-old rabbit Marmaduke, because of the prohibitive £20,000 (AU$35,000) cost of flights and quarantine fees
‘Me and my family just want to stay here – we’ve been here for 10 years, I’ve paid taxes and I’ve never been off work.
‘I feel like I’m being treated as a criminal or that I’ve upset someone, but I’ve not done anything wrong. I’ve had speeding tickets – like anyone has – but it’s not like I’ve been to jail or anything.’
The Greens have already had to empty out their rented house of belongings ahead of Wednesday’s return to the UK.
They are currently living with just two beds, a sofa, a television and a fridge-freezer as they await Wednesday’s deadline, hopeful of a change of heart by Australian immigration officials.
How does Australia’s immigration system work?
Australia has a number of different immigration systems, all of which are tightly controlled.
One popular method is to be sponsored by an Australian-based company.
Employers must select a role that needs to be filled from the Government’s defined list of skilled occupations.
Once a role is selected, immigration authorities will evaluate the nomination and determine whether it meets their criteria.
Applicants will then be assessed on a number of different factors, including age, English language ability, training, health, character and what the market salary rates are.
There are also other methods of migrating to Australia as a skilled worker, including its points-based system.
Points are awarded to applicants based on age, qualification, experience and English language skills.
The priority regularly changes in terms of what type of skilled workers are required, based on the needs of industry.
The Skilled Independent visa is the most desirable visa, because it is permanent and gives holder the freedom and flexibility to live and work anywhere in Australia.
Applicant must be under 45-years-old, have a job in Australia’s desired skills list, and score at least 65 points in its points test.
Other visas are based in individual areas of Australia, known as territories, and are based on local needs.
There are also visas specifically aimed at engineering graduates, under the age of 31, who wish to gain up to 18 months of skilled work experience in Australia.
People can also obtain ‘travel visas’ that allow them to go on ‘working holidays’ – commonly known in the UK as ‘gap years’ – that run for up to a year.
In recent years Australia has also relaxed its visas for low-skilled workers – including visas aimed specifically at agriculture and fishing – amid a global demand for people to fill low-skilled labour.
Mother-of-two Kelly, speaking from her empty Adelaide home, said: ‘I don’t want to go home. I don’t. I really don’t…’
Mr Green said his biggest concern is for his 19-year-old daughter, who has grown up in Adelaide.
He added: ‘I’m devastated for her. She came here when she was eight, leaving her friends in primary school behind in Scotland.
‘She knows Scotland a bit, but really Australia is her home and is what she knows. She loves it here.’
His other concern is for his parents, who are in their 80s and who end up putting him and his family up until they can find their feet again in Scotland.
He added: ‘They are elderly, they don’t need a young family living with them, especially as we don’t know how long it will be.
‘And I don’t want to put on them or anyone else. We want to go back, but it depends on the visa application which could take three months of it could take up to two years.’
Since arriving in Australia 10 years ago on a temporary Skilled Workers visa – known as a 457 visa – Mr Green has he has gone through 26 different types of visas. The family has spent more than £85,000 (AU$150,000) on immigration lawyers and applications in that time.
But they have now been told that they must leave the country before they can apply again.
‘I’m nearly 50. We can’t go through this anymore. There’s nothing for us back in Scotland now,’ Mr Green told Daily Mail Australia.
He added: ‘This is where I live. This is where my heart is. It’ll never change. Even if I go back to Scotland, here is where I will class as home.’
The family have been on a sponsored work visa since arriving which has meant they need to pay for everything Australians take for granted, on top of paying their taxes.
They were denied access to Medicare or free public state schooling for daughter Rebecca, which costs them £4,500 (AU$8,000) a year – but they say they paid without complaint.
‘It was the best day of our lives coming here. The best day ever,’ said Kelly, 45, originally from Kilbirnie, 40km south-west of Glasgow.
They want to stay in Australia permanently but currently just need their bridging visa changed from an E-type to a C-type to allow them to apply to stay without leaving.
The family has been undone by firms sponsoring Mark as an employee and starting a three year route to residency, but going bust before the process is complete.
‘The company went into liquidation and which means I have to start again, all three years, all over again,’ said Mr Green, originally from Prestwick, Ayrshire.
‘That’s happened seven times to me. Most of them closed because of warranty issues – they don’t want to guarantee the warranty of the product.
‘It ends up costing them money, so what they do is they shut up shop and they open up under another business name.’
The final straw came after one employer told him he’d applied for the Greens’ residency and paid their fees – but hadn’t, causing them to unwittingly overstay their working visa.
‘I was let down by my former employer,’ he said. ‘I trusted him and he lied to me.
‘The government has a responsibility to protect me as a foreign worker who was invited to come to Australia to work and was let down by an Australian company.’
The family (pictured) have been on a sponsored work visa since arriving which has meant they need to pay for everything Australians take for granted, on top of paying their taxes
The Greens are currently in the process of trying to find a new home for Maisie (pictured), with Mr Green saying: ‘I’ve had a few offers but no-one within a 1,000 mile radius – and you don’t know who these people are. It’s heartbreaking. To me, she’s part of the family so I want her to go to a good home.’
Their son Jamie has already flown home to Scotland after the visa conditions meant he was unable to work in Australia for years.
The family has been fighting to stay in the country for a year but time is now running out and they have had to sell up ahead of next week’s deportation.
They say they will have to give their 10-year-old rabbit to an animal shelter as they will not be able to bring him back with them.
And they are currently in the process of trying to find a new home for Maisie, with Mr Green saying: ‘I’ve had a few offers but no-one within a 1,000 mile radius – and you don’t know who these people are. It’s heartbreaking. To me, she’s part of the family so I want her to go to a good home.’
In a further blow, Mr Green believes he will not even be able to work in his industry when he arrives back in Scotland as his UK electrical qualifications are now out of date after a decade in Australia.
‘Everything I hoped for here is gone,’ said Mr Green. ‘The stress is terrible. Absolutely terrible. It’s not fair. Not fair at all.
‘Nobody has been in contact with me about trying to sort this out. All they say to me is I have to leave the country.
‘My mum and dad are nearly 80 – as much as they would love to see us, they don’t want a family staying with them. It could take up to two years.
‘I thought I’d have my own company and my own home by now but instead our life is in turmoil.’
The final straw came after one employer told Mark he’d applied for their residency and paid their fees – but hadn’t, causing them to unwittingly overstay their working visa
Their case has now been taken up by Adelaide politician Frank Pangallo, who compared them to the Tamilese Murugappan family from Bilgoela in Queensland, who had their visa conditions changed to let them stay despite arriving by boat.
‘They didn’t do it legally, unlike the Greens, and they got preferential treatment,’ Mr Pangallo, of South Australia’s Best Party told Daily Mail Australia.
‘Forcing a family to leave a country they’ve called home for 10 years simply to return to their country of origin to re-apply to return to Oz seems pointless and ridiculous.
‘And this is all happening while governments grapple with changes to the country’s skilled migration program due to massive shortages across the country.’
Their case has now been taken up by Adelaide politician Frank Pangallo (pictured), who compared them to the Tamilese Murugappan family from Bilgoela in Queensland, who had their visa conditions changed to let them stay despite arriving by boat
A plea to the previous Liberal immigration minister Alex Hawke was rejected and fresh appeal to the new Labor immigration minister Andrew Giles has fallen on deaf ears.
Mr Pangallo added: ‘If you want skilled migrants to come into this country, you better give them an undertaking they’ll be able to stay here and not be booted out when it suits you. It’s absolutely disgusting.’
A spokesman for Mr Giles insisted the immigration minister never commented on individual cases, despite commenting extensively on the Biloela case.
She then told Daily Mail Australia: ‘The minister does not comment on the individual circumstances regarding the Green family.’
Last month Mark revealed how he was ‘done in’ after working ‘seven days a week’ to try and afford the cost of coming home.
He told the Daily Record: ‘I’m working seven days just now to afford to come home in August. I’m really done in.
‘All we want to do is start living life without worrying.’
Meanwhile, Kelly also faces having her life uprooted. She has been employed at local business Vili’s since she arrived in Australia.
Her boss Mary told Australian news channel ‘A Current Affair’ last month that she couldn’t be happier with Kelly’s work ethic and said losing her would be a massive lost to her company.
She added: ‘I can’t get enough retail and factory staff and if I lose a great worker like Kelly, it will affect my business.’