The system processing visa applications from potential workers is gridlocked, leading to a human resource crisis that is costing the country’s economy millions of euros, according to the Chamber of SMEs.
The chamber said businesses are facing “unprecedented pressure” due to a “human resources crisis” because of gridlock in the system of processing visas from third-country nationals coming to Malta to work for Maltese firms.
It said the main breakdown is in the processing of visa applications by Malta’s High Commission Office in India which also handles visa applications from Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives – important sources of human resources for Maltese businesses.
This part of the process in applying for a work or study visa has paralysed the whole system, the chamber said.
It added that businesses had lost trust in the management system which, according to numerous reports received regularly by businesses and visa applicants, is “plagued by abuse”.
“The visa processing system is archaic, lacks transparency and falls short, by far, of sufficient resources to handle the pressures required,” the chamber said.
It said it had been sounding the alarm for months, warning the authorities that unless immediate action is taken, Malta will end up in a human resource crisis.
“Unfortunately, the warnings have not been heeded in time and efforts have been too slow and have lacked any impact as the backlog in the visa processing system has not been addressed. The pressures businesses are facing in terms of human resources is now unprecedented,” the chamber said in a strongly-worded statement.
It said that the HR crisis was a concern for businesses as much as inflationary pressures. “Malta is facing a very serious problem. The estimated cost on business and the economy as a whole runs up to several millions,” it said.
The chamber added that while it appreciated that the challenges contributing to this process are not small, “the main problem is that these challenges were already very well-known but have been shoved under the carpet for far too long”.
“The situation is now not only not being managed but is out of control. This crisis needs drastic intervention,” it added.
The chamber called on the authorities to address the issue immediately, by deploying the resources necessary to shorten the processing time.
In the meantime, it wrote to its members to source workers from other countries, including those with which the government has an agreement on the processing of applications “as this will facilitate the process and get employees faster and more efficiently”.
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