Abdul Ghani with his wife and seven-year-old son in a tiny space given to them in a shared apartment in Al Nahda. Image Credit: Atiq ur Rehman/Gulf News

Sharjah: An expat couple and their son living in Sharjah are struggling to return home to Pakistan after running up around Dh90,000 in overstay fines.

Abdul Ghani, 33, said problems began after he lost his job in mid-2016 while working as an IT officer in an investment company in Dubai. Towards the end of 2016, he had to cancel the visas of his dependants — his wife and son, who is now seven.

In early 2017, Ghani, who is from Karachi, found another job in an engineering company but was not hired because he was arrested in Sharjah in a case of defaulting on credit card dues.

“This was before my new visa with the new company was stamped in my passport. After my case, the new company said, ‘sorry, we cannot take you now’. I had no visa; there were other overdue payment cases against me; I couldn’t get another job, and we couldn’t leave the country,” Ghani said.

Funds ran dry and he appealed to immigration authorities in Dubai, where their visas were issued, to waive or reduce his family’s overstay fines, which were reduced to Dh4,000 for his wife and Dh4,000 for his son, with the condition that he settle the fines within a month, according to Ghani.

However, Ghani said he had to instead spend the money to ward off a bounced rent cheque case.

“I eventually cleared all my cases against bank loans, credit cards and bounced rent cheques. I paid my fines related to them and I served my time in prison. There is no case against me now. We want to go back to Pakistan but there is a backlog of visa overstay fines of some 530 days, amounting to about Dh90,000 for the three of us.

“How can we settle such a huge amount when I have no job, no visa, and no money? I hope someone has a way out for us.”

Ghani said the family, who are staying in a tiny space in a shared apartment in Al Nahda, have been surviving on financial assistance from well-wishers and Ghani’s “freelance IT jobs here and there”. But even those options have all but closed, he said.

“I’m not in good health — I have diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The stress we’re facing is worsening my condition. I recently fainted while walking on the roadside; some good people helped me recover.

“I had to pull out my son from his school in Sharjah in 2017; he was in grade two. I have his school Transfer Certificate but what good is any paperwork if we cannot rebuild our lives? I have a job offer from my former boss in Karachi. Maybe one day I can come back to the UAE, but right now we’re worried about getting home,” Ghani added.

Ghani came to the UAE in 2012 to work as an admin officer in a gold trading company in Dubai.