Visa battle to keep Indian chess prodigy Shreyas in UK

British MPs urge minister to allow the nine-year-old to stay in the country.

London: Two British MPs have intervened in the visa battle of a nine-year-old Indian boy who has the potential to be the future world chess champion but must leave the country by September 10 when his father’s work visa expires. Shreyas Royal is ranked number four in the world in his age group. His father Jitendra Singh’s IT-related visa will expire in September when the family is expected to return to India.

In a joint letter to UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid on Friday, Opposition Labour MPs Rachel Reeves and Matthew Pennycook said the UK would lose an “exceptional talent” if Shreyas was to leave. Their letter notes: “The UK should always encourage the world’s brightest, most talented people to work and make their lives here. Shreyas is recognised by the English Chess Federation as the country’s greatest chess prospect in a generation.”

Parents moved to UK 6 years ago

Shreyas, who was born in India, moved to the UK aged three with parents Jitendra and Anju Singh from Bangalore six years ago. His father was offered a fixed-term contract under the Intra-Country Transfer (ICT) route as an IT project manager with the Tata Group in the company’s UK office.

The only remedy

We just want to request that you can give chance to my son whose talent developed here in England. The support and recognition that he’s getting in England, I’m sure he will not get it in India. Jitendra Singh, Shreyas ‘ father 

The only way he can now extend his visa for a further four years is if he earned 120,000 pounds a year. The MP’s intervention came as Shreyas’ parents had appealed to the UK Home Office on the grounds that Shreyas is a national asset but were told in a letter earlier this week that while he showed “immense promise” it did not mean he could remain in the country.

While the Tata Group is happy for Singh to continue working for them in the UK on his current salary, there is no visa mechanism for him to apply to remain in the UK.

World’s youngest ‘candidate master’

Shreyas, nicknamed Shrez, started playing chess aged six and learned the game at an after-school club, going on to become the world’s youngest “candidate master”. The sport’s international body, World Chess, has stepped in to give Shreyas the honour usually reserved for world leaders or other senior officials of making the first move in an upcoming match featuring the world champion Magnus Carlsen this November. He is currently competing in the British Chess Championships, which could be his last UK tournament.

(With inputs from agencies)

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