The case of a family at risk of deportation because they cannot afford the Home Office fee to process their application has been described as appalling by the First Minister.
During First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, South of Scotland MSP Emma Harper raised the case involving her constituents, the Sbita family.
The Sbita family, four of whom are under the age of 16, told Ms Harper they are having to report to police on a weekly basis and are unable to work, study or make money for themselves as they await deportation to Tunisia as a result of not being able to afford the £7,000 Home Office fee.
It is understood the family are not at imminent risk of deportation.
Ms Sturgeon described the case as an “illustration of Tory-run Britain”.
“It is absolutely shocking and appalling,” the First Minister said.
“I am hugely sympathetic to all those, and we’re talking about many people here, who have real difficulties navigating the complex and the increasingly restrictive UK immigration rules.
“The Scottish Government welcomes, and we hugely value, people from all over the world who choose to build their lives here.
“Scotland is stronger because of our multiculturalism and non-UK citizens are an essential part, not just of our present, but also of our future.”
Ms Harper said she had written to the UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid, as well as Scotland’s migration minister Ben Macpherson, in a bid to allow the family of six to remain in the country.
The fee to apply for leave to remain status is £1,033.
The First Minister added: “The UK Government’s immigration system is not fit for purpose.
“We want to see a less restrictive, more humane system that meets our needs and also provides a welcoming environment for new Scots and their families.
“The migration minister will make representations to the Home Office and will respond to Ms Harper as soon as possible.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “All applications are considered on their individual merits and on the evidence provided.
“Applicants who are destitute can apply for a fee waiver, but anybody seeking a waiver is required to submit relevant documentary evidence to support their claim.
“Where an applicant has not paid the necessary fee and has not been granted a fee waiver, the leave application will be refused.”