Visa Information in Belize
As with many other countries, Belize requires visitors to have sufficient funds to support themselves, a return ticket, and a passport. Passports must be valid up until time of departure.
You can stay in Belize for up to one month without a visa. If you want to stay longer, however, you need to go to the Immigration Department in Belize City or Belmopan, or to the Senior Immigration Officer in an outlying district for a visa extension.
Residency and Citizenship in Belize
Until a few years ago, Belize offered an “economic citizenship” program that cost $65,000, in exchange for many advantages, including a passport for you and your family members, plus full citizenship except for the right to vote. The program was suspended in 2002.
Today, many expats apply for permanent residency in Belize, which makes it easier to travel in and out of the country and to deal with bureaucracy when you’re in it–when getting a driver’s license, for instance. You must live in Belize for one year to be granted permanent residency. To do this, enter the country on a tourist visa, apply for residency and then renew your tourist visa every 30 to 90 days until residency is granted.
To become a resident, you must pay a non-refundable fee of $1000 if you’re American or Canadian. Most other nationals pay slightly higher amounts to cover the cost of a return ticket to the country of origin.
A completed application form (downloadable at www.embassyofbelize.org) should be submitted to the Immigration and Nationality Department, along with two passport photographs (the backs of which are to be signed by you and a Justice of Peace), recent personal bank statements, and current medical and police records.
To acquire nationality status, you must have a permanent residence, and be a legal resident for a minimum of five years. There is also a provision for the registration of minor children along with the applicant. All necessary evidence should accompany the application to avoid delays.
To qualify, you can from any country in the world and can also include your spouse and dependents under the age of 18 in the program.
For more information contact the Immigration and Nationality Department of Belize, the Belize Embassy in Washington, D.C., or your local consulate in the U.S.
Many expats in Belize opt for the Qualified Retired Persons Program residency program in order to gain residency in Belize. To take advantage of this visa, you have to be at least 45 years old and have a monthly income of at least $2,000 from a pension or annuity (including Social Security) generated outside of Belize. Despite the name, you don’t necessarily have to be retired.
When dealing with the bureaucracy, it’s wise to get the advice from an experienced attorney. Questions about permanent residency should be addressed to the Ministry of National Security and Immigration at +(1)501-222-4620
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