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#519299 - 11/27/16 06:00 AM Retirees concerned over changes at Immigration Dept.
Marty Offline
Retirees living on Ambergris Caye have expressed concern regarding perceived procedure changes at the Immigration Department. It was reported to The San Pedro Sun that it seems like some rules have changed – particularly the monthly stamp for an extended stay in the country – and it is now affecting non-Belizean residents. A call was placed to the Immigration Office on the island, whereby an officer clarified that rules have not changed, but rather, they are being strictly enforced.

Normally Immigration laws in Belize allow non-Belizean citizens to extend their stay in the country for a maximum of six months. Every month, persons wishing to continue staying legally in Belize must visit an immigration office where they can get an extension. If during those six months, the individual has not acquired any ties to Belize (bought property, married a Belizean citizen or obtained a working permit), he or she must leave the country. According to a San Pedro immigration officer, there are no exceptions to this procedure, and it applies to everyone.

“Sometimes Immigration Officers may still give extensions to a non-resident, even after they have completed their six months’ stay,” said the officer, who asked to remain anonymous. “This is wrong and against our Immigration laws. Unfortunately it can go unnoticed for years, until an Immigration Officer catches on and enforces the law.” He acknowledged the recent complaints, but stated that non-residents must abide by the rules.

However, the Immigration Department is highly recommending the Qualified Retired Persons Incentive Program (QRP) offered by the Belize Tourism Board (BTB). According to them, this program gives qualified retirees better benefits, without having to leave the country. QRP was developed in the 90’s, and it opens the doors for anyone forty-five years or older with a pension or annuity to retire in Belize. The program also covers spouses and children.

According to the program, the main requirement for retirees is proof of a minimum $2000US monthly payment from pension or business investments outside of Belize. Said funds must be deposited into a local bank in Belize. Other requisites include having a clean criminal record, and retirees must pass the background security clearance check by the Ministry of National Security.

Once that process is done and approved, a QRP Resident Card is issued by the BTB, entitling the qualified person multiple entries into the country. The card also allows the individual to remain in Belize with their dependents for as long as they continue to be a part of the QRP Program. This also means that the person will not have to renew their tourist visa every 30 days at the Immigration Office. For more information on this program, contact the BTB at 227-2420.

San Pedro Sun

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#519306 - 11/27/16 06:48 AM Re: Retirees concerned over changes at Immigration Dept. [Re: Marty]
Diane Campbell Offline
The requirement to leave the country has always been there, but it appears to have been interpreted differently over the years. It would be helpful to have a formal protocol published here so that the good people seeking to comply can more easily do so....

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#519312 - 11/27/16 10:20 AM Re: Retirees concerned over changes at Immigration Dept. [Re: Marty]
ScubaLdy Offline
Funñy thing is, as I understand it, on months after the initial six months people pay $100 per month. Where does the extra $50 go to
Then once they have been here, leaving for less than 15 days (all total) they can apply for residency. I've heard of some disagreements between staff at the immigration office.
_________________________
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#519313 - 11/27/16 10:36 AM Re: Retirees concerned over changes at Immigration Dept. [Re: Marty]
ron Offline
So do I need to bring my deed or deed of conveyance with me after six months/ And do I continue to pay $50 or the $100 as before?

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#519314 - 11/27/16 10:55 AM Re: Retirees concerned over changes at Immigration Dept. [Re: ScubaLdy]
Noelle Offline
People who have bought property continue to need to get their passport stamped and that is at the $100 level. Those who have to leave and come back revert to $50.

Immigration really does need to get their act and stories straight. All of this varies by office. If this had been written in a different district with their local immigration officers interviewed it would be an entirely different story.

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#519528 - 12/05/16 02:04 PM Re: Retirees concerned over changes at Immigration Dept. [Re: Marty]
BrownDogs Offline
We own property/land here and I am approaching my six month on the island. Do I have to leave the country during my six month? Or can I pay $100 for monthly VISA strap going forward? I've been telling immigration that I plan to stay until April, and nothing was mentioned to me. I did leave for several days earlier this fall, but immigration kept me on the same VISA schedule. If I must leave, I better get myself a ticket...

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#519529 - 12/05/16 02:52 PM Re: Retirees concerned over changes at Immigration Dept. [Re: BrownDogs]
dabunk Offline
100 Bze per month after 6 months

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#519572 - Yesterday at 07:45 AM Re: Retirees concerned over changes at Immigration Dept. [Re: Marty]
t42 Offline
Doesn't make sense I thought in order to get residency you had to be in the country consecutively for a year. So now does it mean you must either own land or marry in order to comply with this rule. It might explain why a lot of people were being told to get a work permit maybe that is the year to qualify for residency. Time for someone with time on their hands to read the Immigration Act lol

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#519580 - Yesterday at 02:55 PM Re: Retirees concerned over changes at Immigration Dept. [Re: Marty]
dabunk Offline
Yes you have to be in country for one year without leaving for more that 14 days and they will ask for copies of every page of your passsport when you submit your application. But what you need to understand that this is Belize. Every single person you speak to at Immigration will give you a different story. When we arrived in 2002 we were given the same story about getting a work permit. When the group we came with could not provide the proper paperwork to get a work permit they changed their tune and said it was not needed. Same with our drivers license. PCs stopped us after 3 months and told us whe had to get a Belizean license go to Transport office and they say we have to be in country for a year before we can apply. Every time we turned around during the process to get our residency approved the rules made major changes. All you can really do is come and follow the rules they tell you at the time and ride the wave as there are no set rules for anyone

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