Amnesty Office opens in San Pedro

On Friday, 30th April 1999, the Minister of National Security and Immigration, Jorge Espat announced in the House of Representatives, government's decision to begin an Amnesty Initiative for illegal and undocumented immigrants residing in Belize. Those undocumented immigrants who qualify will be eligible for the grant of permanent residence.

In a meeting on Thursday with Mr. Sam Waight from the Ministry of National Security and Immigration the following information was provided. The Amnesty period began on May 17th and is planned to last for four weeks and may be extended. An investigation period will follow for a period of time dependent on the number of applicants. The government urges all undocumented people to come forward and expects some 30,000 to apply. This is the first time the government has offered amnesty since Independence in 1981. When questioned what incentive illegal aliens have to come in, Mr. Waight commented, "It's a gamble, but a unique opportunity as well for those who qualify." Amnesty will apply to those illegal immigrants who have continuously resided in Belize for a minimum period of four years; or who have married citizens of Belize; or who have a settled common-law relationship for not less than three years; or who have Belizean children; or women who are pregnant for four months or over. Applicants will have to pay a flat fee of $200.00 per immediate family and $5.00 per police record.

The following documents and proof of residence verification are required:

a) completed application form,
b) documents: passport/cedula or birth certificate or certificate and either social security card, or Belizean or country of origin immigration documents and/or expired documents, or Belizean documents, including hospital or school records, bank statements, utility bills, or land papers,
c) certificates accepted from: ministers of religion, justices of the peace, doctors/nurses/community health workers, village council chairpersons, principals of schools or employers,
d) two passport size photos,
e) medical certificate and police record,
f) marriage certificate and/or children's birth certificate,
g) two Belizean references.
In an effort to make this process as easy as possible, Residency forms have been simplified. Since Police records require more time, a receipt with a note from authorized personnel will be accepted. Fees for residency will be payable on approval. A temporary card for residency will be provided for those qualifying that will be renewable every month at the Department of Immigration until permanency is established.

The government has conveniently provided for an Amnesty Center to be located in each district. The Amnesty Center in San Pedro Town is located at the Town Foreman's office (on the right side of the BTL office) on Pescador Drive. Mr. Steven Valencia is the Supervisor in charge and will be aided by amnesty officers Dorothea Wiltshire, Veronica Pinelo, and Elio Gonzalez. Office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturdays 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., phone 3238.

WARNING: To give a false certificate for the purpose of procuring the permanent residence of any person is an offence punishable with a fine of up to $500.00 or with imprisonment for up to 2 years.

For more information, contact the Amnesty Office, Ministry of National Security and Immigration, Belmopan at 08-22225/23154 or fax 20137.

Amnesty Office opens in San Pedro

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