Father of immigration row soldier seeks support to change law

Andrew with Wanda and two-year-old Gracie
Andrew with Wanda and two-year-old Gracie

The father of a former soldier who was “forced out of the UK” by immigration laws has launched a petition to get the law changed in Parliament.

Former guardsman, Andrew McLaughlin was caught in a lengthy immigration battle to get his wife, Wanda and two-year-old daughter Gracie permission to live with him in Warwick.

Andrew on a tour of Afghanistan

Andrew on a tour of Afghanistan

As his wage did not meet the required £18,600 to qualify for a non-EU spouse visa, he was left with “no choice” but to instead move to America to settling with his wife in the country where they met.

His dad, Richard, a former University of Warwick researcher is taking on the system with a Parliamentary Petition calling for the sum to be lowered to £14,000 to cover the living wage.

The 67-year-old said: “My son was almost making the salary that immigration unfairly imposed, and was soon to receive a pay rise that would have taken him above this.

“No consideration was made of his wife’s educational and professional background, she has excellent promotion prospects. We feel the decision was quite heartless.

We feel the decision was quite heartless

Richard McLaughlin

“There is just no way they can live here on his income, and all he wants to do is support his family.”

Andrew served with the Grenadier Guards 1st Battalion for four years and completed a tour in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province where he fought on the front line.

The petition, which already has over 300 signatures, reads: “This is unfair to young people starting out, particularly ex-military people.

“There are many hard working British people with good employment prospects that are being kept from their families because of this hard-fast rule.”

Andrew and his family who now live in America

Andrew and his family who now live in America

Warwick resident, Andrew, spent six months battling to get Wanda -who comes from Puerto Rico but lives in New Jersey - permission to live with him.

As his father is from Pennsylvania he has American citizenship meaning he can more easily live with his family in the US.

He said: “It is just unfair, I feel forced out of the country for which I served in Afghanistan, I had no choice but to go to America.

“I feel let down by my country, but there is nothing I can do. An appeal would take months and there is not much hope of it being granted, and all this time I am missing out on seeing my daughter grow up.”

Sign the petition online here. If it reaches more than 10,00 signatures, it will receive a response from the government. It needs 100,000 signatures to be debated by MPs.