Feature: why Britain's loss is USA's gain in Warwick soldier's new life
A year on from falling foul of UK immigration laws Warwick soldier Andrew McLaughlin now could not be happier with his life.
In January, Mr McLaughlin who lived in Warwick from the age of five, was left with no choice but to move to the USA to live with his American wife, Wanda and two-year-old daughter, Gracie - who has a British passport - after what he described as a “humiliating” and drawn-out immigration row.
He had wanted to move his family to live in England but he did not meet Home Office requirements which state that a person must earn at least £18,600 to support a foreign spouse - a law designed to prevent them being dependant on the state.
The good news for Mr McLaughlin is that he has been accepted into the US Army and he, Wanda and Gracie are happily settled at a base in North Carolina.
The couple are also expecting their second child - a son and brother for Gracie.
Mr McLaughlin’s situation is now a far cry from what is was 12 months ago.
Back then the Warwickshire College graduate had wanted to settle his family in Warwick after he had served with the Grenadier Guards 1st Battalion for four years -including a tour in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province where he fought on the front line.
But the rules which prevented him from being able to do this were introduced in 2013 and have so far led to tens of thousands of couples refused rights to UK entry.
At the time Mr McLaughlin’s father Richard, who put together a Parliamentary petition to challenge the law and reduce the income required to £14,000 , said: “Andrew simply does not earn enough money yet but they do not take into account pay once he finishes training, or Wanda’s prospects as a successful retail manager.
“The sad thing is that this family would never be a burden on the state, he has the support of his family and he and his daughter Gracie are both British citizens.
“The guidelines are morally flawed and here is a war hero trying to do the best for his family.”
Mr McGlaughlin also has American citizenship because Richard is from Pennsylvania.
This helped him to move to America to be with his family.
Richard added: “They are very happy there.
“So, it appears that Britain’s loss is America’s gain.”
****** During Andrew’s fight to have his family moved to live with him in England his father Richard launched a Parliametary Petition calling for the sum his son and others like him needed to earn to be reduced from £18,600 per year to £14,000.
The petition stated: “This is unfair to young people starting out, particularly ex-military people.
“There are many hard working British people with good employment prospects that are being kept from their families because of this hard-fast rule.”
Mr McLaughlin spent six months battling to get his wife Wanda -who comes from Puerto Rico but lives in New Jersey - permission to live with him.
His daughter Gracie has a British passport so having her moved over would not have been so difficult.
At the time, Mr McLaughlin said: “I feel let down by my country, but there is nothing I can do.
“An appeal would take months and there is not much hope of it being granted, and all this time I am missing out on seeing my daughter grow up.”