Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 23 September 2019

Pakistani family hoping for Eid miracle to afford visa renewal fees

Pakistani father-of-two is still hoping he will have enough money to keep his family in the UAE despite their visas expiring

Mahjbeen Ahmed, Mr Ali's wife, with their two sons, Ariz, 3, and Abban, 4. Khushnum Bhandari for The National
Mahjbeen Ahmed, Mr Ali's wife, with their two sons, Ariz, 3, and Abban, 4. Khushnum Bhandari for The National

A man fighting to keep his wife and two children in the UAE, whose visas have expired, says he still has hope that he will come up with the money needed to stop his family from being separated.

Last week, The National reported that Ahmed Ali, 43, would be forced to send his family to their home country of Pakistan if he could not pay the Dh16,000 needed to sponsor them before their visas — that were granted to them under the UAE’s amnesty scheme last year — expired on June 5.

The Abu Dhabi resident fell on hard times last year when he was imprisoned for a series of bounced cheques written in his name by a former colleague who then fled the country.

He was left with Dh90,000 in court fines — which were paid off with the help of the Pakistani embassy and community — but still owes Dh117,000 to a former business acquaintance who filed a civil case against him when his cheque bounced.

Upon his release from prison in August last year, Mr Ali applied for a six-month visa extension for his family after theirs had expired. He applied during an amnesty period that mandated all overstay penalties be waived and had hoped to have enough money by now to be able to sponsor his family himself.

After his story was published, a few people came forward to offer help but Mr Ali is still shy of the Dh16,000 he needs.

Sending his wife and sons home is not an option for him either, as he has calculated he will spend almost the same amount of money on their travel costs and accommodation in Pakistan.

His wife, Mehjabeen Ahmed, posted the story on Facebook, asking people for help but only a handful have come forward.

“Around 13 people commented on the link, three of them messaged me directly and said they will be chipping in once Eid is over,” said Mr Ali

“Another man already contributed Dh500 and a lady sent Eid toys for my children, which we are very grateful for.”

Mrs Ahmed also shared the story among her friends, of whom three said would try to help after Eid.

“Because now everybody is on vacation and people are preoccupied with their own affairs, inshallah once the public holiday is over more people will step up,” said Mr Ali.

Though his family’s visa expired on Wednesday, Mr Ali is confident that they will manage.

“Nothing can be done this week because it is a public holiday,” he said.

Visa overstay charges begin with Dh100 on the first day and adds Dh25 for each additional following day. Mr Ali hopes the government will drop these charges for this week because it is Eid Al Fitr.

When asked what he will do if he is unable to raise the money, Mr Ali sighed and said: “Hopefully I will manage.

“I don’t know what I will do. I don’t have a plan B but I will try my best in this coming week.”

While Mr Ali is focused on sponsoring his family, he faces a three-year jail term if he is unable to pay off the Dh117,000 he owes his former business acquaintance.

“But I am not worried about that now,” he said.

“I will go to the legal aid section at the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department next week to try to seek guidance.

“My main concern is the visa renewal and then I can slowly manage everything else.

“If my family has a visa, then I can run everywhere and manage. This is the situation.”

In the meantime, he plans to continue to spread his story in the hope that someone can help.

“If nothing happens, I will have to take the decision to send them back.”

Updated: June 6, 2019 01:27 PM

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