An Indian-origin chess prodigy in London is on the verge of being deported due to British immigration laws. Shreyas Royal, who has been dubbed as Britain’s “greatest chess prospect in a generation” and is ranked number four in the world in his age group, will have to leave the country soon since his father’s yearly income doesn’t allow him to stay longer once his work visa expires. The nine-year-old chess prodigy from India, who went to the UK when he was just three, is well known thanks to his amazing talent.
In September, Royal’s father – Jitendra Singh – who is an IT project manager with the TCS, was told that his work permit for staying in the UK cannot be renewed as he doesn’t earn more than £120,000 a year. Many on social media argued the amount is ‘ridiculously high’ and most people in the service industry don’t earn more than that.
His parents appealed to the Home Office on the grounds that Royal is a national asset, but received a letter this week saying that while the nine-year-old showed “immense promise” it did not mean he could remain in the country. The news of this rejection upset many.
Labour MP Rachel Reeves, a former junior chess champion, called upon the Home Ministry to let the chess star stay on in the UK. Along with Reeves, Matthew Pennycook, who represents Greenwich and Woolwich – where Shreyas lives – has written to two cabinet ministers urging them to let the nine-year-old stay as he attempts to become England’s first world chess champion, The Guardian reported.
Govt plan to force an 8 year old chess prodigy to leave the country next month because his father earns less than £120,000 a year.
— Rachel Reeves (@RachelReevesMP) August 3, 2018
As the furore increased, the English Chess Federation have also directly appealed to Sajid Javid, the home secretary, to let Royal stay in England. Many are now asking Indian ministers to intervene.
Here’s what Twitterati had to say:
In the matter of the impending deportation of chess prodigy Shreyas Royal and his parents, the family cannot extend their visas because the father earns less that £120,000 per year
It is characteristic of this dreadful government that they put money before talent
— John Cleese (@JohnCleese) August 4, 2018
Theresa May’s income just before she became Prime Minister was £117,350. Fewer than 1% of UK population earn more than £120,000 pa. https://t.co/C65wfjF2gu
— David McKendrick (@McKendrickDave) August 6, 2018
— #HelloMyNameIsJoan #NHSLove #FBPE 🇪🇺 (@RoaringNurse) August 4, 2018
In other words anyone on an ordinary job, a working person has no f’ing chance https://t.co/JrYcvY0WKK
— Tony O’Brien (@Chanctonman) August 4, 2018
India on the other hand should welcome #ShreyasRoyal with open arms and make every possible attempt to convince his parents that his potential can be realized just as well there> Chess prodigy Shreyas Royal in plea to stay in UK https://t.co/mUhb0n5P3N
— Mayuresh K (@mskadu) August 6, 2018
— Crazyfrog🐸🐸 (@purusho15) August 7, 2018
Chess history has a lot of records of receiving Honanary citizenship. It is equally true, UK has lost “Sultan Khan” like legends owing to “end of business commitments”. Kohinoor Diamond is not going to be returned to India. There is a meaningful reason why it is still in Crown! https://t.co/YqGrFZF8Nq
— Malola Prasath (@malolaprasath) August 5, 2018
After this, would you blame the family for not wanting to stay in the UK even if the decision was overturned? Horrible treatment.
This country is no place for genius anymore, and I worry for my own kids’ futures.
— Theo (@tprstly) August 6, 2018
I beg your pardon Mr Cleese, but have I read the correct digit? One-hundred-twenty-thousand £? This means about 160.000€! I’m from Italy, but this revenue belongs to less than 1% here in Milan. The richest town in Italy.
— Arnaldo (@ArnaldoBagnato) August 5, 2018
There might be a solution for the predicament which Shreyas Royal and his family feel they are in. @TCS his dad’s employers are owned by one @TataCompanies which also own @TataSteelEurope and who sponsor one @tatasteelchess. Now could the Dutch not offer abode? #playingDutch
— ♚ Chess Club Live ♚ (@ChessClubLive) August 6, 2018
I think if #chess was a sport in the UK this would have not been an issue. BUT 120K is a ridiculous demand… I still have a faith in the UK’s compassion and fairness. #ShreyasRoyal https://t.co/0lOAGJL47D
— Meri Grigoryan (@MerryPoppies) August 5, 2018
It’s not just money before talent, it’s the insane level of the money – why require a minimum income of £120k for someone whose employer wants to retain him albeit at a perfectly sufficient but lower level? https://t.co/7rwN1VBBN1
— BritCits (@BritCits) August 4, 2018
Appalling action on so many levels. I’m ashamed of our politicians. Many migrants are the best band most dynamic citizens, so short sighted! https://t.co/KEKzyV2NM4
— John Caldwell (@drjohncaldwell) August 4, 2018
If you deport every British who has less the 120K a year – there would be lot of free flats in London and all over the UK – and you could save the 350.000.000 Pounds a week for the NHS. Thanks to UKIP and Boris “Donald” Johnson. https://t.co/XKw8AUXvJ0
— Uli Bohnen 🇩🇪 🇪🇺 (@UliBeans) August 4, 2018
Lots of comments saying he shouldn’t ignore the rules because he is good at chess. Fair point. But what this case highlights is that the current rules are broken. 120K is just crazily high. And, unless I am misreading it, 120K+ STILL only gets you 9 years https://t.co/I6q7ZujYAA
— Harpsichord Knight (@Intraplatequake) August 5, 2018
Am not sure if it’s your department but perhaps the govt of India can assure young #ShreyasRoyal & his family that his #chess talent will be nurtured in #India@SushmaSwaraj @PMOIndia https://t.co/1fU1eKaJLB
— Apurv Nagpal (@apurvnagpal) August 5, 2018
Rules based on money:
More problems due to the hostile environment created my a hostile PM.
Mrs May was warned immigration finance would become a human rights issue – so she hated HR too. No wonder the Con party is losing voter and membersip trust. #GEhttps://t.co/1nQZOgIj4M
— Rob de Nazar #FBPE #PeoplesVote (@robdn) August 4, 2018
Rachel is showing compassion, the UK is a divided, racist nation, which was not so when I was born in 1944. Shame on our government and those who show such disdain for those who achieve. How many Brits earn 120,000 per year?
— Michael Comley (@michaelcomley1) August 4, 2018
Royal, who was born in Bengaluru, moved to the UK six years ago. Talking to The NewsMinute, his father said that the boy began playing chess in London thanks to his mother’s efforts to involve him in extracurricular activities. Royal’s father said he wants to stay in a European nation so that his son’s chess career is not compromised.