UK Backs Down From Deporting Child Chess Prodigy

Shreyas Royal, 'greatest British chess prospect in a generation,' was to be sent back to India
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 10, 2018 10:52 AM CDT
In 11th Hour, Chess Prodigy Saved From Deportation
Britain is about to lose one of its best chess players.   (Getty Images/PeopleImages)

The UK's Home Office says that 9-year-old Shreyas Royal shows "immense promise." But that didn't stop the country from preparing to deport the chess prodigy—ranked fourth in the world for his age group and said to be the "greatest British chess prospect in a generation"—when his dad's visa ran out next month. "I was not expecting that kind of response," Shreyas' father, Jitendra Singh, tells the Guardian about Britain's initial decision to ship the child and his family back to India, where Shreyas hasn't lived since he was 3. Singh, who'd been in the UK on a long-term work visa, was about to see his permit expire, and the rules stated he could only reapply for such a visa if he was making around $153,000 per year as an IT worker (he doesn't). "It is just bureaucracy gone mad," English Chess Federation President Dominic Lawson told the New York Times.

Now, however, perhaps thanks to the lobbying of two members of Parliament and the chess federation, this "exceptional talent" and his family will get to stay, per the AP. Singh told the Guardian Friday, "They just emailed me and told me they had considered my case and we are allowed to extend our leave." Britain's visa law allows those with "exceptional talent" in certain fields to acquire visas, but even though chess isn't one of those fields, the push to allow Shreyas to stay apparently prevailed. "We are very happy and Shreyas is very happy," Singh says. "He jumped up on the sofa when he heard the news. I want to thank all those who helped and supported us." (More deportation stories.)

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