More than 70,000 people have signed a petition in support of a family who face being torn apart for not being able to afford “ridiculous” visa fees.
Peter Dipnarine has lived in Edinburgh for 14 years with his wife and three children but their visas expired in November 2016.
The family has been unable to nail down full-time employment meaning they cannot afford the £7,000 fee to secure their next two-and-a-half years in the city.
Their worry is not only just being deported, but also being split up. Peter, wife Claire, both 57, and son Rene, 27, are of Trinidad and Tobago citizenship while daughters Chantal, 22, and Marie, 16, are citizens of the United States meaning they would be separated if the worst was to happen.
A fourth application to waive their fees has been rejected by the Home Office and son Rene has resorted to getting public support with an online petition which was attracted more than 70,000 signatures.
An emotional Peter told the Evening News: “I don’t even want to think about us being split up. We are all worried and are scraping by each month to afford to pay the rent and for food to live off. We are being treated like illegal immigrants. They should not be like this when children are involved. The Home Office just looks at a name on a piece of paper. They don’t consider the consequences their actions have.
“We have friends here and we are happy. We just want to live a normal life. Edinburgh is our home and we don’t want to go because we love it here.
“I didn’t realise I had 70,000 friends to be honest. We are very grateful to those who have signed the petition.” After almost 12 years living in Miami, Florida, the family moved to Edinburgh in 2002 for Peter to complete his degree in business studies at Edinburgh Napier. Both Peter and Claire worked tirelessly, mostly in administration, until their visas expired but now are struggling to find employment.
With Peter and Claire both unemployed, the family is scraping by to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.
Peter has been undertaking odd jobs such as tutoring and sourcing car parts and he is unsure how long the family can continue their lives filled with uncertainty.
The family has recently been granted immigration bail with conditions to reside at their Drylaw home and report to their local police station every 12 weeks. A fifth application was sent on June 13 in order to stay in Scotland but they face at least a six month wait for another response.
Rene, who is in his final year studying network systems at Edinburgh Napier, has sent in a separate application which the family is awaiting for approval. Chantal is also at Napier studying digital media while Marie is in her final year at high school.
Edinburgh West Scottish Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine said: “A member of the family came to see me and it is a heartbreaking case. My staff and I have been in touch with the Home Office and are hoping to arrange a meeting to discuss how we move forward.”
The Home Office was unreachable for a comment.