The first female footballer from India to play in English league football is facing a fight to remain in Britain because of visa issues.
Goalkeeper Aditi Chauhan, who plays for the Indian national women’s team, made history earlier this year when she signed for the West Ham ladies team.
However, the 23-year-old has been told she must return to India in January when her student visa expires because third division West Ham Ladies cannot sponsor her.
Under immigration rules, a player on a student visa cannot play in the top two tiers of the English league while third division sides cannot sponsor work permits.
Ms Chauhan is currently studying towards an Masters in sports management at Loughborough University.
Ms Chauhan told the Evening Standard: “I’m trying my best to get my visa sorted. I’ll be disappointed if I can’t continue here because I would love to stay at West Ham. I’m not going to stop playing even if it means I have to go to another country to continue my career. If something doesn’t work out here, I will probably go to Australia.”
Her brother Aaditya has now launched a petition calling for the Indian government to intervene to get her a work visa to the UK as well as financial support for Ms Chauhan.
West Ham are reportedly working Ms Chauhan to resolve the situation.
“The management have been very supportive. They’ve promoted my profile on social media and I could not have asked for more. The players have been very warm and welcoming”, Ms Chauhan said.