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Belize Expat Forum

actual experience getting residency - not QRP!!

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cdnfencesitter
6/17/2021 16:48 EST

Hello out there. I'd really like to hear form people who have actually gotten residency in Belize. Is it really so simple as they say on the web sites? From what I gather, you just enter on a tourist visa, and keep renewing til you've been there a year, and then you can apply for permanent residency. Seems to good to be true, so I have a few questions I'd like see if anyone has anything to kick in on this:

1. During the year, I understand that you can not leave for more than 14 consecutive days. But can you leave multiple times? I.e., is it several 14 consecutive day periods, or multiple? For example, if i left for 13 days every month in that one year period, would i still be eligible for residency?

2, Once I've applied, how long does it typically take to finish it, from top to bottom? Is it a complicated process?

3. I've heard you have to get a work visa first - is that true?

4. Can I be confident of success? I've heard that as long as you're more or less self sufficient and you're not an axe murderer, they'll take you - is that true?

It would be so nice to hear from people who have already done this. There is info out there, but it is often vague, and it often contradicts among various sources. Thanking you in advance,

hopeful

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inplub
6/17/2021 17:23 EST

1. No more than 14 days in a year.

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WMiller77
6/17/2021 17:58 EST

I received residency a few years ago and my husband got his earlier this year. While there was some time that passed essentially the process was the same for both of us.

One thing that did change between my husband and I is the document submission process. I had to submit all my documents in Belmopan. My husband was able to do it in Dangriga. The downside to this though is that you now have 2 points where the documents can get misplaced. You can still go to Belmopan to submit them though.

To answer your questions:

1) The 14 days is fluid and is not based on a calendar year, but a rolling year.
You cannot be out for more than 14 days but note that the day you leave and the day you return are counted as a day so leaving multiple times just really cuts into that time away.

2) The answer to this question is all over the map. Some people have indicated they got it in 5 months. Mine took 22 months. It also depends on you, how accurate your documents are that you submit. If you miss something in your application Immigration won't call you to tell you it's missing. So the longer you wait to call and check on it the longer the process will take.

The process isn't complicated but the application form isn't complete either. The Immigration officer will ask for documents that aren't on the application form (unless they've changed it). And as time progresses you will need to submit more documents. If it takes longer than 6 months you will need to get an updated police report from the Belmopan police department. You will need to submit your passport pages again, to include the stamps you have received after submitting your application. You will also have to resubmit your bank statement showing that you still have funds for your living expenses.

3) You do not have to get a work permit first. If you plan on working at all you will need a work permit. Immigration, while you are getting your stamps will request, from time to time, proof of funds for sustainability.

4) I personally have not heard of anybody being refused. Follow the process, get your monthly stamps while waiting, keep out of trouble and you should get it. Now, I am not an Immigration officer and the final call is not mine to make so I can't say definitively that you will get it. On the upside you don't pay the final fee (amount determined by country of origin - Canadians pay less) until you have been approved. Paying the final fee is pretty much the last step you will have to take.

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cdnfencesitter
6/17/2021 19:19 EST

thanks inplub... did you actually do this? it sounds very difficult to me - to be there for 365 days and only absent 14... especially if you're new there

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cdnfencesitter
6/17/2021 19:27 EST

Thanks so muhc for your considered response WMiller 77. I am curious about how things worked during your 22 months. So after you'd pinned down the 12 months, and before the 22 was up, were you able to come and go as you pleased without compromising your residency application? And being there for almost a solid year like that - did you find that difficult?

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WMiller77
6/17/2021 19:57 EST

My husband and I had 2 different experiences after our applications had been submitted. I had a work permit and had to continue getting a work permit renewal each year. My husband wasn't working so he had to make the monthly stamp payments to Immigration. He was asked a few times about his status so was able to inform Immigration that his application had been submitted.

I chose not to come and go during the wait time as I didn't want there to be anything that got in the way of approval.

The immigration laws specify time out of the country prior to submitting your application but there isn't anything in the act about the time between submission and approval of application. When I first put my application in, I asked the immigration officer about this point specifically. He took out the immigration act and looked for himself and couldn't find anything. His recommendation was to just stick with the 14 days. When I went for my final interview in Belmopan I asked a different immigration officer the same question. The answer she gave me was that there isn't a specified time as this time is to be used for applicants to head back to their home countries and finalize their businesses there.

At this time you haven't received your approval but your application hasn't been rejected either.

So this timeframe, between submission of application and receiving your permanent residency approval is a grey area.

When you think about not being able to leave you may find it difficult. But keep in mind the bigger picture. After receiving your residency approval there are no more work permits, no more monthly stamps, and you can come and go. When you return you even go into the "nationals" line at immigration.

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inplub
6/17/2021 21:21 EST

We live in San Pedro and run a small Thai Restaurant. We as a family of 5 did it in 2003. We moved here Jan 03 took 3 months to get work permits. Then lived here a full year without leaving Belize. We are from the UK. My answer was sort as I was on phone. We left in 2007 and came back in 2013.

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cdnfencesitter
6/18/2021 02:09 EST

Thanks again WMiller77... The big picture is a nice picture! I just have to figure out a way to make it work i guess. Might I ask if u file Belize tax returns?

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cdnfencesitter
6/18/2021 02:11 EST

Thanks inplub - i'll make a point of getting to the restaurant one day

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Phyllie
6/18/2021 09:07 EST

And do you have to leave the country every 90 days to have your passport stamped? That's what I read.

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WMiller77
6/18/2021 09:41 EST

No, you do not have to leave every 90 days. You do have to go to the immigration office, locations throughout the country, to check in and pay your monthly visa to extend your stay for another 30 days. The monthly cost is $200 bzd per 30 days extension per person..

I’ve been here since 2012 and leaving the country every 90 days has not been a requirement in all that time. Other countries, yes, but not Belize..

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WMiller77
6/18/2021 12:35 EST

There is no such thing as a tax return like we know them in Canada and the US. Taxes are paid when you get paid, like back home, but no returns are filed. If you run a business you can file a GST (general sales tax) return on a monthly basis but that's it.

So because I do work here I do pay taxes here in Belize. And I continue to file my taxes in Canada but because I pay here I am not double-taxed in Canada. However I do still have to pay into the Canada Pension Plan based on the income I have here in Belize.

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Donovan
6/18/2021 15:43 EST

How very helpful. Thank you!

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cdnfencesitter
6/19/2021 13:43 EST

WMiller, I dont know if this is too personal of a Q, but why do you still file in Canada? One of the main reasons I'm contemplating this move is becasue I want to get free of the Cdn tax authorities. I've done a fair bit of leg work on this, and it seems doable, even if not entirely easy. So the reaosn i ask is becasue I'm wondering if there's somethign im missing here.

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