Ex-Fife family battle against being deported

Jason and Christy Zielsdorf with their family at Laggan Stores Coffee Bothy.
Jason and Christy Zielsdorf with their family at Laggan Stores Coffee Bothy.

A Canadian family, formerly of Fife, are being deported from their home where they founded a thriving café business.

The Zielsdorf family said stringent rules which require entrepreneurs to employ two full-time staff in order to meet visa requirements do not take into account running a business in remote, rural areas.

The family lived in Cupar for four years, before moving to Laggan in the Highlands. Dozens of supporters have written to the Home Office to back the family’s request to remain, but authorities have said they will be removed next week on May 4.

Jason Zielsdorf moved to Scotland from Calgary with his wife Christy and four of their five children to “find their roots” nine years ago. Their youngest son, Kiernach, six, was born in Scotland. Mr Zielsdorf said: “We are a strong family, but I think when we get back to Canada, there is going to be some repairing to do.”

The family, who have run a successful café, shop and holiday let business in the Cairngorms National Park, initially lived in Scotland on a student visa while Mr Zielsdorf completed a Masters degree at St Andrews University. They stayed in Scotland on a post-study work visa and later applied for an entrepreneur visa.

However, their attempts to renew the visa were rejected in 2015 and they have since been trying to fight the decision – and sell the business, in which they have invested £300,000.

Mr Zielsdorf said: “It doesn’t make a lot of sense to have a one size fits all policy in the UK, when it is not a one size fits all nation.”

Keith McIntosh, a former neighbour in Cupar, said: “We’re behind them. Ordinary people here who have heard about their plight want them to stay. It’s terrible, so frustrating.

“They’re very welcoming. They are a lovely family; very talented and musical.

“I can understand that immigration is Westminster’s legal requirement, but surely in this day and age something can be done.”

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 cafe business is currently for sale for £275,000.