American dreams turn to nightmare

Martin Taylor with his wife Mary Lyons-Fletcher at the Nags Head,Killamarsh
Martin Taylor with his wife Mary Lyons-Fletcher at the Nags Head,Killamarsh
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American Mary Lyons-Fletcher got the shock of her life when her visa application was thrown out, despite being married to an Englishman for 25 years.

The 54-year-old – who was planning a new life in Sheffield with husband Martin – was worried the weather might get her down or the locals wouldn’t like her. She never imagined the Government would stand in her way.

Mary and Martin Fletcher lived in the States until last June when they moved to the UK because his elderly mother is ill. Martin took over as landlord of The Nag’s Head in his home village of Killamarsh so they could be near her.

In November, Mary returned to the US and applied for a spousal visa. But a few weeks after returning she was told it had been denied. It emerged she had filled in a section on Martin’s income incorrectly.

She appealed and submitted what she thought was decisive proof that he earned more than the £18,600-a-year threshold.

A second refusal left her stunned – and despairing, after all further enquiries hit a wall of silence. Meanwhile, the clock was counting down on her visitor’s visa, which expires on June 13. She’d been warned by officials she couldn’t have another one.

Faced with returning to the US to start the spousal visa application process all over again, and waiting weeks for a decision – at an estimated total cost of at least £5,000 – she contacted Action Desk.

Mary said: “I had no idea where I’d gone wrong, or what more they wanted. Martin earns more than the threshold but they won’t tell us what documents they need. I don’t plan to break the law or be a drain on the British system in any way. I just wanted to be with my husband. We are in a small village with Martin’s family close by.

“I will in no way be a burden to the UK Government. In fact, I will be contributing taxes almost immediately.”

Some 500 people in Killamarsh have signed a petition calling for Mary to be granted a visa.


Mary’s visa has been granted! Action Desk contacted the Home Office who put her in direct contact with the visa section at the British Consulate General in New York.

On their advice she submitted Internal Revenue Service form I099 and, miraculously, the doors to the UK sprang open.

An email from the consulate states: “Your appeal against your UK visa refusal has been overturned. I am now satisfied that you meet the requirements of the immigration rules. Your visa will now be issued.”

Mary said: “Thank you so much! Without Action Desk and the pressure of your story this would not have happened!”