A FORMER soldier from Warwick who fought in Afghanistan is now fighting his own battle to set up home with his wife and daughter.
Andrew McLaughlin has an American wife and two-year-old daughter who 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.
The 29-year-old former Warwickshire College student served in the Grenadier Guards for four years, including a tour in Afghanistan, but now feels he is being ‘forced’ out of the country he put his life on the line for.
Andrew – who this week returned to America to be with his wife and daughter – said: “I feel completely let down. I’m British, I was a serving soldier, I lost friends in Afghanistan.
“So what if I fell in love and married an American citizen? She will be no burden on the state and I want my daughter to grow up in England.
“I can understand why the immigration laws have to be strict, but it does not make sense why my family cannot get a visa. I have been married for four years and we had our daughter two years ago. It is obvious we are not trying to play the system.”
Before Andrew left for Helmand Province he visited America where he met future wife Wanda, a shop manager. They married and when he returned from the war zone he moved to the United States where they had daughter Gracie.
But the couple recently planned to move to the UK where they could be near Andrew’s parents and sisters.
He returned to the UK 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 was refused entry as her husband did not earn enough. By this time Andrew had been apart from his family for six months.
A spokesman for the family said: “Wanda has excellent employment prospects and is experienced in retail, she would be an asset to this county. This family would never be a burden on the state.
“They are a young, hard-working couple just trying to make a life in the land of Andrew’s birth. Why should they be kept apart? Someone needs to help this hero.”