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    Tuesday, 17 October 2017 02:37
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    Wednesday, 18 October 2017 03:05

One other interesting matter that came up in Wednesday’s hearing is an anomaly between what is policy and what is practice when it comes to Guatemalan tourists in Belize. Under the SICA framework, movement through Central America is allowed which means that in Belize Central American nationals can enter freely. However, after 30 days they are required by our Immigration laws to apply for a permit in order to extend their stay. But Guatemalans seem to enjoy special treatment as they do not end up applying for any extension, and it seems, our Immigration authorities do not budge to enforce the rules.


DianaDiana Locke - Director of Immigration Department


“The VISA waiver exist so nationals do not require a VISA to travel to Belize specifically its Guatemalans, they come into Belize without a VISA as with the Central American countries members of SICA, after 30 days you are required to obtain a VISA, Guatemala is the only country at this point in time that does not apply for a VISA after the 30 days have expired despite that is in an SI so we are at the point where a discussion is being held, we had one discussion with minister Hulse and minister Williams on this matter and a decision has to be made as yet as to what it will happen in that direction.”


Senator Eamon Courtney – Member Senate Special Select Committee


“Guatemalans come in under the VISA waivers and that VISA is valid for 30 days but you are saying that the Guatemalans do not apply for a new VISA then to remain in Belize or a permit to remain in Belize which they will have to pay for?”


Diana Locke - Director of Immigration Department


“That is correct, I am not sure why that policy was put in place it’s something we’re are trying to find out more about, I’m not aware that it’s any under the Confidence Building Measures or the agreements we have but it’s a matter that has been discussed.”


Senator Eamon Courtney – Member Senate Special Select Committee


“I don’t understand so and how does Guatemalans know this that they don’t have to do anything after the thirty days?”

 

Diana Locke - Director of Immigration Department


“That is correct and apparently it’s a practice at Immigration for years.”


Senator Eamon Courtney – Member Senate Special Select Committee


“And there are no steps to pick up these people that are illegally in this country?”


Diana Locke - Director of Immigration Department


“They are not illegal.”


Senator Eamon Courtney – Member Senate Special Select Committee


“Oh so you issue extensions?”


Diana Locke - Director of Immigration Department


“Yes they can come in and apply for extensions


Senator Eamon Courtney – Member Senate Special Select Committee


“No, after the 30 days what happens?”


Diana Locke - Director of Immigration Department


“They don’t apply for a VISA but they should come in and apply for extensions if they want to stay, they are the only ones that are not require to get a VISA in order to get an extension.”


Senator Eamon Courtney – Member Senate Special Select Committee


“And that is by policy rather than law?”


Diana Locke - Director of Immigration Department


“Yes I think so sir, that’s a practice that has been at the department for a substantial number of years am not sure why but trying to find out what made that happened.”


Senator Eamon Courtney – Member Senate Special Select Committee


And how much revenue are we losing?”


Diana Locke - Director of Immigration Department


“That I can’t see and I have no idea.”


Senator Eamon Courtney – Member Senate Special Select Committee


“And if they were to apply what would be the fee?”


Diana Locke - Director of Immigration Department


“The hundred dollars, am sure we are losing revenue from it but that’s a decision that has to be taken at another level.”

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