An American software development business owner was forced to fire two of his staff last month because of excess delays by Identity Malta in renewing his work permit.
Alex Sherbakov, who has been operating in Malta for around five years, told Lovin Malta of his frustrated attempts to renew his work permit – a process non-EU nationals must go through every year.
He said he applied to renew his work permit last January and expected it to be a straightforward affair, given that he hadn’t changed any of his details and that prior renewals hadn’t taken longer than three months.
He was given a blue receipt, acknowledging the application and allowing him to work legally while it was processed, but was warned not to travel overseas because he could face bureaucratic visa issues upon re-entering Malta.
As the months dragged on, Sherbakov warned Identity Malta officials that he needed to travel to close certain deals or he would have to let two people go.
“However, the document didn’t allow me to travel, we were short on sales and I had no other option but to let two people go, including a Maltese employee,” he said.
To compound matters, Sherbakov is registered as an EU resident on his Revolut and Paypal accounts, accounts which have been suspended pending the renewal of his permit.
“Clients have paid me through PayPal but I can’t touch the money because my permit wasn’t renewed,” he said.
Sherbakov said he visits Identity Malta’s offices every two weeks to try and get an update on his application and estimates he’s wasted at least six days waiting in line so far.
“People often write in the comments sections that foreigners are taking their jobs and should go back, but there’re more than that; there’s also people like me who provide jobs,” he said.
The inefficiency of Identity Malta in dealing with the high number of applications came to light in recent weeks when photos were published of foreign workers sleeping outside Evans Building to ensure they’ll be first in line the next morning.
Identity Malta responded by pledging to revise its opening hours, recruit more staff and digitise its systems.