A PUB landlord is in danger of being deported over a visa dispute despite a wave of opposition from the community he serves with his wife.

Tracie Young, from Failsworth, met her future husband Russell Young online in 2005, mistakenly identifying the Australian as a former schoolfriend.

But they stayed in touch on social media and their relationship blossomed before Russell made the move, selling his Melbourne home to live with Tracie in the UK.

They got married in 2016 and he was living on a two-year marriage visa.

At around the same time, the Sun Inn pub on Oldham Road, where Tracie worked for years, went up for sale and she and Russell made the decision to buy it, clubbing together savings and getting financial support from those close to them.

As Russell’s two year visa came to an end in 2018, the plan for him to secure a new five year visa was damaged after it was found less than £18,600 in a salary was earned in the first year they ran the pub.

Tracie said the couple only paid themselves a minimum wage while they were getting the pub up and running and it made £4,000 in profit.

A decision to deport Russell was approved and an appeal by the couple was lost. Legal efforts to keep Russell in the country are ongoing with the pandemic delaying proceedings.

A petition asking for him to remain in the UK has attracted close to 19,000 signatures.

The Sun Inn on Oldham Road in Failsworth

The Sun Inn on Oldham Road in Failsworth

Tracie, 56, said: “It is a living nightmare. It is heartbreaking for the whole family.

“My grandchildren know Russell as their grandad.

"We have no criminal record and are law abiding citizens and are doing the best for the community to keep the pub going.

“We have been married five years this August. The customers are outraged by it and really upset.

“Russell is a really lovable man. Everyone has took him to their hearts.”

Russell is hoping their legal challenge will persuade the Home Office to allow him to stay in the country.

He said: “We have been wrestling with it for about two years. We are trying to be optimistic. It would mean everything to get a new visa.”

To make matters worse, Tracie is caring for her 82-year-old mum, who lives with the couple and suffers with health problems.

JMW Solicitors LLP is representing Russell in his case.

Partner at the firm, Dipesh Shah, said: “We have accepted instructions from Mr Russell Young and his wife, Tracie Young in respect of their immigration matter.

“We understand that they have had a difficult set of circumstances with respect to their visa application in meeting the immigration rules.

“We are urgently reviewing their case in order to achieve the best outcome for them.”

MP Angela Rayner is backing the family with their appeal.

She said: “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.

“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.

“I fully support Russell in his quest to reverse this decision and wrote to Kevin Foster, Minister for Future Borders and Immigration, to ask him to look into it as a matter of urgency.

“Almost 19,000 people have signed a petition demanding the decision be reversed which shows the strength of feeling on the issue.

“This is just another example of the Tories’ heartless immigration system which prioritises hitting numerical targets without a care for the human cost it has for people like Russell and Tracie. Common sense must prevail.”

To view the petition page to keep Russell in the UK click here.

In response, a Home Office spokeswoman said: “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.”