London : A 9-year-old Indian chess genius won his battle on Friday to stay in the UK after the expiry of his father’s work visa as the Home Office made an exception in the case due to his “exceptional talent”. Shreyas Royal has won a series of chess championships and is ranked number four in the world in his age group and has the potential to be a future world chess champion.
But his father Jitendra Singh’s IT-related visa was set to expire next month when the family was expected to return to India. A number of British MPs had intervened in the case to urge UK home secretary Sajid Javid to make an exception in Royal’s case due to his exceptional talent.
“They [Home Office] just e-mailed me and told me they had considered my case and we are allowed to extend our leave to remain on Tier 2 general route,” Singh told the Guardian newspaper.
“We are happy and Shreyas is 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,” he said.
The news was also welcomed by the English Chess Federation, campaigning for the boy to stay on in the UK and hone his talent. Federation’s chief Dominic Lawson said: “We are delighted our efforts to persuade the government to recognise Shreyas’s exceptional talents have borne fruit.”
“When Jitendra got in touch with me this morning to tell me of the Home Office’s decision, it was obvious what it meant to him, his wife and of course Shreyas. We are also grateful to [the home secretary] Sajid Javid, for personally taking charge of reexamining the original decision of the immigration department,” he said.
In a joint letter to Javid last week, Opposition Labour MPs Rachel Reeves and Matthew Pennycook said the UK would lose an “exceptional talent” if Shreyas was to leave. Their letter said: “The UK should always encourage the world’s brightest, most talented people to work and make their lives here. Shreyas is recognised by the Federation as country’s greatest chess prospect in a generation.”