Indian Chess Prodigy Allowed to Stay in UK

The UK Home Office has accepted the appeal of Shreyas Royal's family and several others who cited the chess player's “exceptional talent” to let them stay in the country.


Nine-year-old Indian chess player Shreyas Royal and his family will be able to stay in the United Kingdom after his father’s work visa expires in September. The UK Home Office has accepted the plea of the family and the appeals from several people, including British politicians and former chess players, who cited Royal’s “exceptional talent” to let the family stay in the country.

The family was informed about the Home Office’s new decision by an email on Aug. 10.

“They just emailed me and told me they had considered my case and we are allowed to extend our leave to remain on tier 2 general route,” Jitendra Singh, the boy’s father said, the Guardian reported.

“We are very happy and Shreyas is very happy. He jumped up on the sofa when he heard the news. I want to thank all those who helped and supported us … I would also like to thank the Home Office and the home secretary who considered our case,” Singh added.

Singh’s visa application is going to be sponsored by Tata, his employer. He will be allowed to submit the application while being in country. Usually, the application needs to be filed from outside the country.

“They’re allowing a tier 2 general visa and that will be for five years and after five years I can apply for British citizenship,” Singh said, according to the Times.

Various politicians and chess organizations welcomed the approval from the government.

“We … are delighted that our efforts to persuade the government to recognize Shreyas Royal’s exceptional talents have borne fruit,” Dominic Lawson, President, English Chess Federation, told the Guardian.

Malcom Pein, the CEO of Charity Chess in schools and communities, also tweeted to congratulate everyone for their efforts to stop “Shrexit” (Shreyas Exit).

Royal was supposed to leave the country with his family on account of the expiration of his father’s work visa  next month. His parents, Jitendra and Anju Singh, had pleaded with the British government to allow them to stay in country, calling their child a “national asset.”

The government, however, did not accept the application at the time. A letter from the Home Office to the family said that while the child showed “immense promise” it did not mean that he could remain in the country, according to an earlier report of the Guardian.

Labour Party MPs Rachel Reeves and Matthew Pennycook then urged the Home Office to reconsider its decision. They also wrote to two Cabinet ministers, including Home Secretary Sajid Javid, to allow the family to stay.

“If Shreyas Royal is forced to leave the UK and return to India, the country will lose an exceptional talent. We therefore urge you to intervene as a matter of urgency to grant Shreyas and his family the right to remain in the UK,” the MPs said in a letter to Javid. They also wrote a similar letter to Jeremy Wright, the Secretary of State for digital, culture, media and sport.

Reeves, herself a former junior chess champion, also tweeted on Aug. 8, asking Javid to intervene, and called Royal one of the best and brightest in the country.

Royal moved to the United Kingdom at the age of three years. He started playing chess at six and became the world’s youngest “candidate master.” Last year, he was ranked fourth in his age group at the World Cadets Chess Championships in Brazil.

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