In 2011, Russell and Ellen Felber settled in the Highlands of Scotland after falling in love with the country during holidays. They arrived under Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa. Under this kind of visa they were required to invest into a business and economy certain amount of money. To raise necessary funds, they had sold everything they had in The States leaving absolutely nothing behind. They have neither other home nor other life.
The used their life savings to buy a run-down hostel in Inverness and transform it into the award-winning Torridon Guest House, which has attracted hundreds of stellar reviews across TripAdvisor, booking.com and similar tourist sites.
They never had put any profits to the side, but year after year they keep re-investing everything they made back into the business, refurbishing and improving their Guesthouse. They support local community and local businesses, they pay taxes, they obey the law, and they are doing their best to help bringing tourism to the Highlands. They made friends with their neighbours and other B&B owners, and became a valuable part of the community. Ellen joined the bell ringers at Inverness Cathedral, where she is the member of congregation, and also she took lessons in the Gaelic language. Russell actively joined ‘Visit Scotland’ and ‘Visit Inverness-Loch Ness’ organisations to help improve the visitors experience. The Felbers were enjoying their lives, friends and activities.
In December 2016, just a week before Christmas, they were told they had to leave Scotland and everything they had built up, as their application for an extension to their visa had been refused.
It was rejected because the Home Office had changed the rules and applied the alterations retrospectively. The Felbers thus failed to meet a new ‘job creation’ requirement which they had satisfied on their original visa requirements, but now the goalposts had been moved.
They have spent a lot of money trying to stay in their Highland home, but now they need your help to fight this grossly unfair decision, which is also having an effect on Ellen’s health.
Legal Aid has refused their application for help with legal fees, so they are having to turn to the wider community.
Their legal team has indicated the costs could be more than £20,000. The case will be heard again next month.
Russell and Ellen thank all of their friends and the people who have been supporting them thus far, and hope and pray they will continue to help.