The Ministry of National Security and Immigration has given careful consideration to the existing laws governing immigration and nationality. It is felt that there is an urgent need to further strengthen the Immigration Act to deter the incidence of illegal entry into Belize. There is also a need to modify the immigration rules relating to the fees charged for nationality and residence permits.
The Ministry is guided by the government's vision as expressed by the Manifesto, Set Belize Free "for a state with secure borders respected by its neighbors, where all citizens are assured that their lives and property are safe and their human rights respected, where laws and institutions are honored.
The new immigration and nationality policy is designed to achieve four objectives: protect Belizean workers, control and manage our borders, apprehend and deport those who willfully violate our laws, and improve the services of the Immigration and Nationality Department.
The Ministry further appeals to those who work, visit or live in Belize to respect and comply with our laws, and call on those establishments that currently hire foreign nationals to identify and train Belizean workers.
The Ministry of National Security and Immigration intends to introduce and implement the following new measures starting Friday, February 5th, 1999.
Amendment of the Immigration Act
Legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives to require employers who employ illegal immigrants to pay the cost of repatriation of such persons, in addition to other penalties already prescribed by law. Similarly, public carriers that bring illegal immigrants to Belize may be liable to a fine of up to $5,000 and in addition, shall be required to pay the cost of repatriation of such persons.
Permanent Residence Fees
All applicants for permanent residence, except nationals of the People's Republic of China, will be charged the following flat fees which will be non-refundable:
There shall be a flat fee of $20 per annum for a border permit.
Work Permit Fees
Work permits will generally not be issued for waitresses, vendors, domestic and farm hands save in exceptional circumstances.
Student's and Dependent's Permits
There will be no fee for a student's visa provided a letter of admission from an accredited institution is produced. The fee for a Dependant's permit will be $75 per annum.
Visitor's and Tourist's Visa
Up to six months - $25 per month.
A work permit will not be issued to a visitor or tourist who resides in Belize for a period of less than six months.
Applications to be made in person
Application to the Immigration and Nationality Departments shall be made in person if the applicant is in Belize. Likewise, applicants themselves, upon proof of identity, must personally claim approved documents.
Time for processing applications
All applications to the Immigration and Nationality Service shall, as far as practicable, be processed and completed within a period of four (4) weeks. Incomplete applications will not be accepted.
The new fees will be as follows:
The applications of refugees and other displaced persons for nationality will be considered in accordance with the Refugees Act and the U.N. Convention on the Status of Refugees. Refugees will not be treated less favorably than other applicants for granting of nationality. Section 29 (3) of the Constitution.
In considering applications for nationality, regard will be had to section 29 (3) of the Constitution which states that "no person shall be entitled under the provisions of the Chapter to be a citizen of Belize or be granted citizenship of Belize if such person shows any allegiance to or is a citizen of a country which does not recognize the independence, sovereignty or territorial integrity of Belize. Provided that the Minister may, in his discretion, grant Belizean Citizenship to persons falling under this subsection who would otherwise be entitled to such citizenship under the provision of sections 23 and 25 of the Constitution." Basic Knowledge of Belize Constitution.
All applicants for Belizean nationality will be expected to have or acquire a basic knowledge of the Belize Constitution and the system of government in Belize, starting August 1999.
In an effort to clear the backlog of pending applications for nationality and permanent residence, applicants are invited to visit the Immigration and Nationality Department and to inquire personally on the status of their application. To assist the Department to locate the relevant files, applicants should take the necessary receipts and any other identifying number given to them by the Department.
New Oath of Allegiance
All persons who are granted Belizean Nationality will be required to subscribe to a new Oath of Allegiance as set out below.
I, _______________do swear that I will bear true faith and allegiance to Belize and will uphold the Constitution and the Law of Belize and that I will faithfully and conscientiously contribute to the development of Belize and discharge my duties and responsibilities as a Belizean citizen.
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