In­dia-born chess prodigy wins fight to stay in U.K.

The Globe and Mail (Ottawa/Quebec Edition) - - NEWS -

Case of a boy seen as Bri­tain’s great­est tal­ent in a gen­er­a­tion drew in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion

A nine-year-old In­dia-born chess prodigy whose fight to stay in Bri­tain drew in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion can re­main in the coun­try, the gov­ern­ment said Fri­day.

Shreyas Royal, who came to Bri­tain with his fam­ily when he was 3, has com­peted in­ter­na­tion­ally and came fourth in the World Cadets competition in Brazil last year. But his fam­ily faced hav­ing to leave the United King­dom when his fa­ther’s work visa ex­pires next month.

The English Chess Fed­er­a­tion and two law­mak­ers had ap­pealed to Home Sec­re­tary Sa­jid Javid to let the fam­ily stay, say­ing Shreyas was Bri­tain’s great­est chess tal­ent in a gen­er­a­tion and had lived in the coun­try most of his life.

Mr. Javid said on Fri­day that, “af­ter care­fully re­view­ing the ev­i­dence, I have taken the per­sonal de­ci­sion to al­low Shreyas and his fam­ily to stay in the U.K.”

“We have al­ways been clear we want a world-class im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem that wel­comes highly tal­ented in­di­vid­u­als from across the globe,” he said.

The boy’s fa­ther, Ji­ten­dra Singh, said Shreyas “jumped on the sofa and started danc­ing” when he heard the news.

He said the de­ci­sion was “such a re­lief for us.”

“Yes­ter­day we were pack­ing to leave, we thought we had to go,” said Mr. Singh, an IT project man­ager.

London’s Bat­tersea Chess Club, where Shreyas plays, thanked sup­port­ers and said the young chess player had “a big fu­ture ahead of him on the world stage, hope­fully rep­re­sent­ing Eng­land.”

Im­mi­gra­tion is a di­vi­sive is­sue in Bri­tain, and re­duc­ing the num­ber of new­com­ers was a ma­jor fac­tor for many vot­ers who, in 2016, backed leav­ing the Euro­pean Union. The Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment says it wants Bri­tain to re­main open to global tal­ent, but has tight­ened poli­cies in re­cent years in a bid to cre­ate a “hos­tile en­vi­ron­ment” for illegal im­mi­gra­tion.

Crit­ics say many le­gal im­mi­grants to Bri­tain have suf­fered as a re­sult of ex­ces­sive bu­reau­cracy and harsh de­ci­sions.

Ear­lier this year it was re­vealed that hun­dreds of le­gal long-term res­i­dents from the Caribbean had been de­nied med­i­cal care or threat­ened with de­por­ta­tion be­cause they could not pro­duce pa­per­work to prove their right to re­main in Bri­tain.

Mr. Javid, who was ap­pointed in April af­ter the mi­gra­tion scan­dal felled his pre­de­ces­sor, has said the term “hos­tile en­vi­ron­ment” “does not rep­re­sent our val­ues as a coun­try.”


Shreyas Royal plays the cer­e­mo­nial first move at a tour­na­ment in London in 2017. Nine-year-old Shreyas and his fam­ily had been un­der threat of de­por­ta­tion un­til Fri­day.

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