Indian international women’s footballer Aditi Chauhan, the goalkeeper with British side West Ham Ladies, may have to leave the UK because of visa issues.
Chauhan, who was recently crowned Asian Woman Footballer of the Year, has been in Britain since 2014 when she arrived to study for a masters degree at Loughborough University in sports management. However, her UK visa, granted to her as a student, expires in January.
Chauhan signed a one-year deal to play with third division West Ham United Ladies during the summer. As the club is considered ‘semi-professional’, it cannot sponsor her to apply for a work visa to remain in the UK.
The player, who is the first female Indian footballer to sign to a British league club, 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.”
The club is supporting her efforts to remain in the UK and exploring whether she will be allowed to continue playing via a temporary worker visa or an exceptional talent visa. Her brother has also started a petition to support his sister, which more than 800 people have signed.
Chauhan, 23, has been financially supported by her parents during her studies in the UK. She said she has received strong support from the club and she has also spoken to West Ham United’s joint chairman David Gold. She is also due to meet club management to discuss her visa issues.
“I’m just desperate to stay and continue my career development at the club,” she added.