By Greg Heffer, news reporter
A nine-year-old chess prodigy has been backed to become England’s first world champion after being allowed to stay in the UK.
Shreyas Royal and his parents, who are from India, feared for their future after being told they would not be permitted to stay after their UK visa expires next month.
But, following a campaign by supporters, Home Secretary Sajid Javid made a personal intervention to enable them to remain.
Shreyas’s father, Jitendra Singh, has been granted a new work visa due to the “exceptional circumstances” of his son’s talent.
Mr Singh works as an IT project manager but had been told his current UK visa could not be extended unless he earned £120,000 a year.
This is despite his current employer wanting him to stay in the UK and continue working on projects for them.
Mr Javid said: “After carefully reviewing the evidence, I have taken the personal decision to allow Shreyas and his family to stay in the UK.
“The UK is a country that fosters world class talent and Shreyas is one of the most gifted chess players in his generation.
“We have always been clear we want a world-class immigration system that welcomes highly-talented individuals from across the globe.”
Shreyas has lived in the UK since he was three and is described as “one of the most exciting prospects in English chess”.
Leon Watson, secretary of Battersea Chess Club, south London, where Shreyas is a member, said he could become “a household name as England’s first world champion”.
“Shreyas is a very nice, down-to-earth young man who has a big future ahead of him on the world stage hopefully representing England,” he added.
“Our country badly needs someone like this, the next Nigel Short or Michael Adams, and we firmly believe Shreyas will do us proud.”
The English Chess Federation, who made a representation to Mr Javid over the family’s case, said they are “delighted” by the decision.
Mr Singh revealed his son’s own joy at the decision.
“We have been waiting for a very long time, it’s such a relief for us,” he said.
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“We are very much happy that my son can continue. Shreyas became very happy and jumped on the sofa and started dancing.
“Yesterday we were packing to leave, we thought we had to go.”