Stranded in Cairo despite renewing long-term social visit pass

I would like to draw attention to my plight of being stranded in Cairo.

I am a Canadian, married to a Malaysian and have a daughter together who is also Malaysian. I have been living in Malaysia for the last three years under a long-term social visit pass (LTSVP) which I renew annually.

Before the Covid-19 outbreak, I was planning a brief trip to Cairo and thus decided that I should renew my LTSVP. That was at the end of January. My LTSVP was going to expire in April. Nevertheless, I renewed it at a new immigration office, different from my previous location. We had moved last year to Perak and therefore thought it would be more convenient if we had transferred my file to an office within the state.

When I went to renew my LTSVP, there was no problem except that the officer did not give me a receipt as proof of renewal. I sensed that this was not normal and requested him for one, to which he replied “no receipt”. I thought maybe it was because this office was a small outfit compared to others and hence they did not provide one. Not thinking much about it at that time, I left and went home.

I did mention to the officer that I was going overseas and he said there was no problem with me returning to Malaysia and I could collect my new visa then.

That was in the beginning of February. Fast forward to April and the world events drastically changed within a short period of time. As I watched many countries beginning to close their borders, there was a sense of urgency for me to return to Malaysia.

I did not think there would be an issue since the government had said spouses with valid LTSVP could return. However, after contacting the embassy in Cairo, I was told that my LTSVP was about to expire. If I could not leave Egypt before it expired, I would have to wait until the MCO in Malaysia ended before I could return. I explained to the embassy staff that my visa was already renewed in Malaysia. However, the staff wanted a receipt as proof of the renewal. At that point, my heart sank because the immigration officer did not give me one.

My wife and I have been trying to get at least some written confirmation of my renewal but all immigration offices are closed at the moment. The main immigration office in Ipoh is on limited staffing but it is difficult to get anyone to listen to our plight. We have contacted Wisma Putra and the home affairs ministry but were unsuccessful. My wife had spoken to an immigration officer at KLIA and was told that my new LTSVP is in the centralised system and there is no issue for me to return. But alas, I am stranded here in Cairo. I came here in mid-February and was hoping to be back long ago.

At this point, I am not sure what else to do. Many who have listened to my case sympathise with my situation but are unable to help. They mentioned that the receipt should have been issued. So now because of no fault of mine, I am stranded in Cairo. Thankfully, I found a place to stay with a Malaysian student. He has since returned to Malaysia and now I will spend my Ramadan alone.

Johan Ghazali is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.