A nine-year-old chess prodigy has been told he does not have to leave the UK when his father’s work visa expires, a move that has been welcomed by MPs and chess organisations in Britain.
Shreyas Royal has lived in the UK since he was three but was told he would be sent back to India when the work visa expires in September.
On Friday, his father, Jitendra Singh, said he had received an email that morning, informing him of the Home Office’s change of mind.
“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,” Singh said.
“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.”
The news was also welcomed by the English Chess Federation, which has been campaigning for the boy to remain. Dominic Lawson, the ECF president, said: “We … are delighted that our efforts to persuade the government to recognise Shreyas Royal’s exceptional talents have borne fruit.”
He added: “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 re-examining the original decision of the immigration department.”
Lawson’s words were echoed by Leon Watson, the secretary at Battersea Chess Club, where Shreyas is a member. “This is an enormous relief.” he said. “Shreyas is a very nice, down-to-earth young man who has a big future ahead of him.”
Shreyas, nicknamed Shrez, was described by Chris Ward, a chess grandmaster and former British champion, as “the best prospect the country has ever seen.He started playing chess at six, eventually becoming the world’s youngest “candidate master”. In August 2017 he was ranked joint fourth in his age group at the World Cadets Chess Championships in Brazil. In his short time playing he has won multiple awards.Shreyas’s parents, Jitendra and Anju Singh, moved to south-east London from India in 2012. They have been staying under a tier 2 long-term work permit, but were recently told that the only way they could stay would be for Jitendra Singh to renew his visa. To do so he had to earn more than £120,000 a year.The couple appealed to the Home Office on the grounds thattheir son was a national asset, but received a letter earlier in the month saying that while he showed “immense promise” it did not mean he could remain in the country.The decision was originally challenged by MPs who urged the Home Office to reconsider. Labour’s Rachel Reeves, a former junior chess champion, and Matthew Pennycook, MP for Greenwich and Woolwich where Shreyas lives, wrote to two cabinet ministers urging them to let the boy stay.The email received by Singh on Friday read: “As advised during the call we have spoken to your employer … and have agreed with them that you will be able to submit an application to extend your stay in the UK under the tier 2 (General) route.“I would be grateful if you could let me know once the applications have been submitted so that I can ensure that they are processed smoothly.”The Home Office has been approached for comment.