Education Chief’s Home Office appeal to keep Canadian teacher

Laurence Findlay – supporting appeal to Home Office

AN APPEAL BY MORAY’S head of education appears to have fallen on deaf ears at the Home Office, who are refusing permission for a Canadian teacher to return to work at a Forres school.

Heather Cattanach was recruited to work as a teacher in the UK through a jobs fair at the University of British Columbia two years ago.

She initially worked in Southampton before moving to Moray and taking up a post at Applegrove Primary School in Forres. It was while employed there that she met and ultimately married Inverness man Gary McIver. Mr McIver has a son and daughter from a previous marriage.

Mrs McIver subsequently applied to remain in Scotland on a permanent basis – however, she was forced to leave Applegrove via a telephone call that informed her that her current visa was no longer valid – and her renewal application had been submitted by her solicitor too late.

The couple have now been informed that the Home Office can see no reason why she cannot return to Canada with her new husband – and that he could maintain contact with his children via the Internet.

A letter of support for Mrs McIver had been submitted by Laurence Findlay, Moray’s head of education, who insisted that her ongoing absence was posing a significant risk in terms of service continuity at the school.

However, immigration officials insist that they have no proof that Mr McIver “maintains an ongoing relationship with his children” and that Mrs McIver should return to Canada and “seek alternative leave to re-enter the UK from overseas”.

A Home Office spokesman said: “All applications are carefully considered on their individual merits, in line with immigration rules and based on the evidence provided by the applicant.”