Footballer Aditi Chauhan grabbed the media attention, when she was signed for English side West Ham Ladies. It made her the first Indian female footballer to do so. However it has been revealed that Chauhan will be asked to leave for India next month, since her visa in the UK cannot be renewed by the Football Association (FA).
Aditi came to Britain on a student visa last year to pursue Master's degree in sports management from Loughborough University. Her student visa is about to expire and even though the team had planned to sponsor her work permit, she cannot apply for it through the club as West Ham is in the third tier and she is classed as a semi-professional.
She reportedly said, “My student visa expires on January 29th in 2016 and as of now West Ham cannot extend it as a sponsor visa as only first and second division teams are allowed to do so.”
She added, “there are only two ways out for me, West Ham United Fc, the male club are registered to sponsor the visa and they can sponsor my work visa or the Indian government can help me by endorsing the Tier 1 Exceptional talent visa.”
Aditi’s well-wishers in India have taken to Change.org, in an attempt to garner an Exceptional Talent visa. The petition titled “Let’s bring a change to Indian Football.. Let us join hands to support Aditi Chauhan!” has already reached its 7,500 target and will soon reach Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj.
It has also been directed towards Football development Foundation Chief Nita Ambani. The 24-year who recently won an award in the UK, added, “I have always been aware about my visa issue and have been trying to get it sorted for long time now, after the awards it was highlighted a bit more.”
Aditi is among those thousands of Indians, who come to the UK to study. Inspite of having exceptional talents that could be useful in UK skill market, are often forced to go back to India, due to lack of an available visa. Earlier international students were provided with a post work study permit that allowed them to stay in the UK to work for two years, after graduating. This visa was scrapped by the Tory government in 2010. The number of Indian students coming to the UK, following the scrap has now halved, affecting the university market. London Mayor Boris Johnson has been rooting for a Commonwealth visa, that will allow students in the UK, to live in the UK and work for two years after graduating. It is believed, Home Secretary Theresa May is still considering it.
Want the post study work visa to be reinstated for international students? Support Aditi's plea to stay back in the UK? Have your say. Write to us at [email protected]