Freedomroo – 11th hour reprieve for Australian pub landlord facing deportation

Russell Young, 62, and his wife Tracie, 56, bought the Sun Inn in Failsworth, Greater Manchester in 2018 for £250,000 and paid wages of just £100 per week to ensure the enterprise survived

An Australian grandfather who saved a 200-year-old British pub from closure but then faced removal from the UK for taking a pay cut has been thrown a last-ditch lifeline to stay.

Russell Young, 62, and his wife Tracie, 56, bought the Sun Inn in Failsworth, Greater Manchester in 2018 for £250,000 using his life savings and paid themselves wages of just £100 per week to ensure the enterprise survived.

Russell, who moved to the UK in 2016 and sold his home in Melbourne to help finance the purchase, increased the pub’s turnover from £99,000 to £218,000 before lockdowns ravaged the hospitality industry. 

But his future in the UK was thrown into doubt when the Home Office rejected his application for a five-year visa because he did not meet the Government’s financial criteria of earning £18,600 per year.

Today – on the deadline before his removal – a legal team partnered with him thanks to Night Time Economy Adviser for Greater Manchester Sacha Lord have applied for a new spouse visa.

If it is approved, he will be able to remain in Britain for two-and-a-half years and can currently stay with his wife, Tracie, and family until the Home Office makes its decision.

Tracie told MailOnline: ‘The legal team said the best route was to put in a fresh application. So we had to tell our life story all over again and re-submit what we submitted years ago.

‘We have been advised to apply for a spouse visa rather than an appeal, but there’s only a 50/50 chance that it will be successful. Russell can remain here until the decision.’

Russell Young, 62, and his wife Tracie, 56, bought the Sun Inn in Failsworth, Greater Manchester in 2018 for £250,000 and paid wages of just £100 per week to ensure the enterprise survived

But the Home Office has rejected the Australian grandfather's application for a five-year visa because he did not meet the Government's financial criteria of earning £18,600 per year to remain in the UK

But the Home Office has rejected the Australian grandfather’s application for a five-year visa because he did not meet the Government’s financial criteria of earning £18,600 per year to remain in the UK

Last month tribunal judges rejected the pub landlord’s appeal, leaving him with just 14 days to try to overturn the result or leave the country.

It meant Russell faced having to leave Tracie and his family in the UK behind and being left homeless in Australia. 

After being highlighted by MailOnline 20,000 locals and pub regulars signed an online petition calling on the Government to see sense on the issue.

Russell moved to Manchester in March 2016 on a six-month visa after meeting Tracie online 12 years earlier.

They were married in August 2016 – granting Russell a two-year stay – before they decided to buy the Sun Inn, in Failsworth, for £250,000 in June 2018.

Russell used cash from the sale of his house in Melbourne, Australia, to help fund the purchase, and the couple increased the pub’s turnover from £99,000 to £218,000 in their first year before Covid-19 ravaged the industry.

He then applied for five-year visa application but this was rejected because he did not meet the Government’s financial criteria of earning £18,600pa.

 He appealed the decision, which was rejected last month – leaving him with just 14 days to try to overturn the result or leave the UK. 

Last month tribunal judges rejected the pub landlord's appeal, leaving him with just 14 days to try to overturn the result or leave the country

Last month tribunal judges rejected the pub landlord’s appeal, leaving him with just 14 days to try to overturn the result or leave the country

The move means Russell now faces having to leave Tracie and his family in the UK behind and being left homeless in Australia

The move means Russell now faces having to leave Tracie and his family in the UK behind and being left homeless in Australia

He moved to Manchester in March 2016 on a six-month visa before the pair wed in August and he was granted a two-year stay

He moved to Manchester in March 2016 on a six-month visa before the pair wed in August and he was granted a two-year stay

UK rules on family visa applications, extensions or switches

Foreign nationals applying or extending family visas must prove they and their partner have a combined income of at least £18,600 per year.  

The Government’s website on the rules states that ‘income’ classes as: 

  • Income from employment before tax and National Insurance;
  • Income earned from self-employment or as a director of a limited company in the UK;
  • Cash savings above £16,000′
  • Money from a pension;
  • Non-work income, for example from property rentals or dividends.

Those who are using income from self-employment or employment will need to prove they or their partner received that income for six months or more.

Foreign nationals need to show they and their partner meet the minimum income requirement if they want to settle in five years as a partner. 

The partner must also either be British or Irish, have settled in the UK, be from the EU and have pre-settled, or have refugee status in the UK. 

Foreign nationals also need to prove they are in a civil partnership or marriage that is recognised in the UK, and have been living together in a relationship for at least two years by the time of the application.    

Russell has been offered a job with a property maintenance firm – earning £19,000-a-year – if his new visa application is accepted.

Tracie, who first worked at the pub as a barmaid in 1986, said: ‘It is really frustrating and all this is having a massive impact on our mental health. I’m ready for cracking up.

‘You get a little bit of hope and within an hour it’s smashed and you’re at a low again.

‘We had three options; put a new application in, appeal the original decision or Russell goes back to Australia and re-applies from there, which we can’t do because I can’t go with him.’ 

She added: ‘I am absolutely stuck because I’ve got my mum to care for and run the business that Russell has put all his money into. I can’t just shut the door and walk away.

‘I can’t get my mum out of the pub because she’s ill, never mind on a plane.

‘He could be back in Australia for 12 months and I need him here.

‘I need help to run the business and care for my mum as well.

‘We just want to be able to plan and get on with our lives together.’

The couple paid around £7,000 to have the application fast-tracked.

Tracie said: ‘All we can do now is wait.

If we are successful, we can makes sure we meet all the criteria for the five-year one.’

An online petition to keep Russell in the country now has more than 19,000 signatures.

MP Angela Rayner is backing the couple.

She told the Oldham Times: ‘Russell is understandably extremely worried about what the future holds for him.

‘Russell and his wife Tracie bought the Sun Inn pub before lockdown restrictions were imposed and have been hit hard by the pandemic, as have many others in the hospitality industry.

Pub regulars have now set up a petition and a GoFundMe page to help with the legal fees

Pub regulars have now set up a petition and a GoFundMe page to help with the legal fees

‘Despite the many difficulties of running a pub during the pandemic, Russell and Tracie invested their own money into renovating the pub during their enforced closure.

‘They should be praised for their dedication to running a successful local business but instead, they are faced with having their family forcibly split up.

‘If it were not for Covid and the pub hadn’t had to close, Russell probably would’ve met the income requirements to remain in the UK. To assess his application based on his finances in 2020 is totally inappropriate and unfair.

‘The Home Office should show some flexibility and consider all that Russell has given to this country by running a successful business and investing so much of his own time and money in to it.

‘The Sun Inn is a popular local pub and Russell has become a key member of the Failsworth community since he moved to the UK in 2016.

‘He has caring responsibilities for his elderly mother in law.

‘His own mother died earlier this year but he didn’t go back to Australia as it would have affected his visa requirements.

‘He’s extremely dedicated to cultivating a successful life for himself and his family in the UK.’

A Home Office spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘All applications are carefully considered at the time on their individual merits, on the basis of the evidence provided and in accordance with the immigration rules. 

‘It is up to applicants to demonstrate they meet the requirements of the route they apply under.

‘While we have taken a compassionate and pragmatic approach to cases during the pandemic, it is right that there are minimum income thresholds for family migration to prevent burdens being placed on the taxpayer.’  

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