A popular Balzan barbershop has spoken out after the family of one of their barbers has been stuck in Dubai for weeks following a visa refusal by the Maltese Consulate in Dubai.
Rock Bhatti, a Pakistani man and an old school barber expert that works at Antonio’s Barbershop, is described by his employer as someone who works hard and is loved by clients.
Antonio’s Barbershop was ready to employ his wife, Sitara, while their son stayed in Pakistan with Sitara’s mother. However, Sitara’s mother fell sick, and the decision for the son to come with his mother to Malta was made.
Antonio’s wife Fleur Camilleri checked with Identity Malta to see what must be done to bring their son over, and she was informed that “as long as both parents make enough money to sustain their child, there will be no problems”.
However, Rock has been left confused and “in tears” after his wife and son travelled to Dubai to apply for a visa to Malta, only for the son to have his visa rejected by the Dubai Consulate.
“Both Rock’s wife and son travelled to Dubai and placed their application with the Dubai Consulate there,” Fleur Camilleri told Lovin Malta. “On the 5th of December (after waiting for nearly a month in Dubai) Mrs Bhatti was issued the visa but their son’s visa was refused.”
Fleur has since lodged an appeal on behalf of the family, but two weeks on and the appeals review is still underway.
Identity Malta had given permission for Rock’s wife and son to enter Malta back in October.
After giving them this permission, Identity Malta advised the wife and son to apply for their visa at the VFS in Abu Dhabi.
They ended up applying at the Consulate General of Malta, in Dubai. However, they rejected the son’s visa on the grounds that his “intention to leave the territory of the member state before the expiry of the visa cannot be ascertained”.
Parliamentary Secretary for Identity Malta Julia Farrugia Portelli has since been in contact with Antonio’s Barbershop and has promised them to follow up on Rock’s case with the Dubai Consulate.
The family’s appeal will now go to the Appeals Board, which is part of the Home Affairs Ministry.
“Were they expecting her to leave her son in Dubai alone?” she asked angrily following news that the wife’s visa was approved, but not the son’s.
The rejection comes after months of preparation, including moving into a new apartment suitable for a family, and various applications and fees. Rock is also currently paying for his wife and son as they wait in Dubai for a verdict.
“I am very worried for my wife and son being in Dubai alone,” Rock told Lovin Malta. “If I knew that it was going to be this way I would not have taken this decision. My son cries for me every day and asks his mum when is he going to see me.”
“We are Roman Catholics and my son prays to God every day because he also sees his mum crying. I just want an answer to get us all out of this misery and be together again.”
The management at Antonio’s Barber’s is fuming over the visa rejection, tearing apart one of their beloved employee’s families during Christmas.
“We treat all our clients as our family in every way possible and we treat our barbers the same way. Although I will be spending Christmas with my loved ones, we will all be unhappy for our barber Rock,” said Antonio. “We are not human traffickers. We employ human beings, and we treat them as such.”
For her part, Fleur was less diplomatic, clearly affected by what she was seeing happen to Rock’s family.
“Rock has been paying his NI and his taxes in a higher bracket than minimum wage, as required to bring his son over,” she pointed out. “I would just like to wish all the people concerned in these decisions a loving Christmas with their loved ones as thanks to them a family is separated.”