US visa troubles prompts Cleveleys woman to stage a 90-day art protest staged by Cleveleys woman over US

A Cleveleys artist is staging a 90-day art protest to highlight the problems she has encountered trying to get a visa to live with her fiancee in the United States.

Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 1:07 pm
Updated Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 1:08 pm

Leigh Barton met American Korey Green, from Kansas, both 29. while they were studying at the University of Liverpool. They later became engaged and after Korey moved back to the US, Leigh was planning to join him – but then Covid-19 hit the UK.

Leigh said the pandemic caused visa services to shut down, but despite the recovery as well as online pressure, the embassy in London has displayed a resistance to change or be willing and able to adapt.

She said: “Just recently, in private emails to scheduled visa applicants, they have announced that they will be cancelling all booked appointments from August 1 2021, with the option to rebook not until spring 2022.

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Leigh Barton with some of the placards she has made during the 90-day protest

“This came with no explanation or public update. According to my lawyers, London is the only consulate to be taking this action.”

Leigh said she and Korey, inset, have received mixed messages from both the consulate and the National Visa Centre, with neither taking responsibility for the backlog.

She added: “We have reached out to them repeatedly, as well as senators and paid to join two lawsuits in order to hopefully see our case moving, and that we might be reunited this year.

“The 90 Day Protest UK is my last chance to raise awareness.

The artworks show the anguish Leigh and other people are enduring waiting for their visas

“Every day I have been posting a hand-painted protest placard that tries to show what me, and other visa applicants, are currently experiencing and feeling.”

Leigh is now on her 61st day of the protest and hopes that the publicity will help make the protest gain traction, ultimately being able to reunite with Korey in the US.

Leigh added: "I am doing this not just for myself but for thousands of people who are waiting for a visa. We are now out of lockdown restrictions so why are these services being returned back to normal. It needs a light shining on the whole situation and that is why I started the protest.

"I have spoken to other people across the country and they have had the same problems as myself. Just no communication from the embassy or any officials whatsoever."

The US Embassy in London did not respond to repeated requests from The Gazette.

To see the artwork created by Leigh, see the Facebook group ‘90dayprotestuk’