October 26th, 2016

Help for Warwick soldier after family barred from country

THE BATTLE to bring a former Warwick soldier’s family to the UK after they were denied entry to the country is not over yet.

Andrew McLaughlin’s American wife and their two-year-old daughter were denied entry to the UK due to strict immigration rules which state he must earn more than £18,600 to allow his non-EU family to settle here.

After recently featuring the 29-year-old’s story, the Observer has been contacted by locals offering their support and help to the family.

The Grenadier Guards – whom Andrew completed a tour of Afghanistan with and served with for four years – also got in touch looking at how they could help him.

Former Warwickshire youth parliament member Ben Wesson, who is launching a campaign to support Andrew, said: “Like many people across the district, I was shocked to hear of Andrew’s battle to set up home with his wife and daughter in the UK.

“While I understand there is a need for strict immigration rules, it does seem to me this family deserve special consideration. The law states that Andrew must earn more than £18,600 to allow his family to settle here. Having risked his life for this country, it would seem fair and reasonable to most people that this stipulation was waivered or reconsidered on his personal situation.

“As someone who has put his life on the line for this country, we should do all we can to help the family settle in the UK. Allowing him to do so would go some way to repaying the debt of gratitude we owe him for his extensive military service.”

Former Warwickshire College student Andrew had planned to move his family to the UK where they could be close to his parents.

Andrew returned to the country and applied to re-enlist in the Grenadier Guards, with his former commander saying they would love to have him back.

But the Ministry of Defence refused his application due to budget cuts, and Andrew instead took a job as a driver with Warwick recycling firm Fortress. He also gained qualifications in private security.

Despite this, his 37-year-old wife Wanda and two-year-old daughter Gracie were refused entry as Andrew did not earn enough. By this time he had been apart from his family for six months.

Andrew has now returned to America so the family can be together.

His dad, Richard McLaughlin has since started a parliamentary petition to lower the wage requirement of British citizens with a spouse from outside the EU.

He told the Observer: “Andrew has gone back to the USA for now to be with his wife and daughter after being separated because of the unfair immigration rules.

“The irony is he was almost making the salary limit which immigration imposed, and he was very soon set to receive a pay raise which would have taken him well above this limit.

“No consideration was made of his wife’s educational and professional background, or of the financial backing of his immediate family. We feel the decision was quite heartless.”

Visit petition.parliament.uk/petitions/118268 to sign the petition.