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The cost of staying in The Jewel

Posted: Saturday, January 4, 2020. 9:44 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Immigration Department has responded to a complaint by a now-departed Canadian tourist who balked at the conditions she was asked to fulfill to extend her stay in Belize.

The visitor, whom we will not name, explains that she has visited for the past seven years and went to extend her visa at the end of December.

As she explains, “I was told that the rules have changed and that I had to give them a copy of the bank statement, a copy of my [Social Security] and a copy of my lease agreement.  Since I stay with a friend, I did not have a lease agreement. Therefore my friend would have to provide a copy of their identification and a copy of their land title.  As a consequence, I left the country.”

The writer is clear that she is not prepared to accept the terms offered, stating, “Under no circumstance would I ever provide my bank statement nor my social security [number] to anyone, other than my own government.  This, in my opinion, is tantamount to identity theft.”

She cites a contact in the United States who queried with the Belizean embassy in Washington. That person listed “(a) your passport (valid) (b) pay the fee (c) reason for the extension (proof of your return airline ticket)” as the requirements to extend one’s stay here.

This evening we reached Minister of State for Immigration, Beverly Williams-Castillo. After hearing our explanation she commented that she finds the complaint “strange” if this person was visiting and wanted to stay longer, rather than someone on a work visa.

She told us that no Canadian requires a visa to come to Belize and that Canada, the European Union (Schengen Zone) and the U.S. have the strictest security measures for passports and visas and so Belize accepts them without question.

Visitors have thirty days in the first instance to stay, but beyond that, it is necessary to come in and show that you can support yourself or have someone support you, hence the additional documentation. Belize, the Minister explained, is no different from other countries in regard to visitor stay extensions.

Nonetheless, we have forwarded the complaint to her at her request, so that the Ministry of Immigration and Nationality can look into it and see what else can be done.


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