Residency Requirements

During my last visit to San Pedro's immigration office, I was told I could only stay here for six months on my tourist visa. At that point, I would have to marry a Belizean, buy a business, buy land, apply for the Qualified Retirement Plan, or get a work permit. My only other option is to leave the country for two weeks and then come back. Before I moved here, I did my research and it indicate getting residency would be no big deal in Belize. Numerous neighbors are leaving either permanently or temporarily. Does anyone have any insight on this ? I feel totally misled and many of us feel Belize really does not want us here permanently. Even people that own businesses are being told they have to leave the country.

This is something I have never heard before. It conflicts with renewing monthly for a year to qualify for residency requirements that many people are doing.

In general when dealing with any government official (stateside or Belize) and the information sounds suspicious, I ask to see in writing the Law/Regulation/Rule/ Policy/ whatever they are referring to.
Often a careful reading of the actual document itself will reveal a different conclusion.

Also try googling it on official websites.

I would really like to know the correct answer to this as well.  My understanding is that you can stay in Belize for up to 30 days on the tourist visa - and if you wish to stay longer you just go to the immigration office each month and get your passport stamped.  The fee for first six months is US$25 per month, and after six months it's US$50 per month.   I haven't read anywhere that you must leave to two weeks and come back. 

I agree that it would also make it difficult to qualify for the residency program.  You are only allowed to leave the country for 2 weeks during your qualifying year total, which would mean you could not break up your time throughout year to leave for doctor visits or shopping in Chetumal, or whatever.

I would recommend a trip to the Immigration Office in Belmopan to inquire and try to obtain documentation that can be shown to officials in San Pedro.

Until now, and in our case, and as you are probably aware, to apply for Permanent Residency (PR) the requirement is/was to live here without leaving for more than a total of 14 days. If you left for time they are telling you, that would reset the clock and you would never qualify.

I will say that the information given to us in San Pedro has never been very accurate. In fact when our year was up we could not, even after several weeks of going to the office, obtain a PR application in San Pedro. It was also recommended to us by other expats, to file our application in Belmopan rather than in SP, there is less chance of documents being lost, or delayed from reaching Belmopan for long periods of time.

If it is now the position of immigration to no longer offer PR, or have maybe suspended the application process until they get caught up on the existing apps. (which appear to be about a year and a half behind), that is news to me. Any information you get on the forums may therefore be conjecture and may not be accurate or helpful. So again I would go to Immigration in Belmopan and speak to an official (preferably the Director) in the front office.

Yes the information regarding this process found online is often incomplete and even misleading. I have read in many places that after your year "you will be granted Permanent Residency". This is not true. After a year you may apply for PR. This process is not well documented and requirements may change at any time or at the discretion of any official that reviews your file. I know you are still some time away from applying, but you should know that it is important to follow up on your file regularly and keep it up to date (They do not call, they just flag and hold your file as incomplete). The approval process is usually at least a year, but I also know of others that have applied over two an half years ago and are still waiting.

I hope this advice helps. Please keep us up to date.

That San Pedro office employee is full of it. I've never heard of anyone being told to leave after 6 months.  I know people who have been here for years, just getting their tourist visa stamp renewed every month. One of them has also been waiting for PR approval for almost 3 years now, grrr!
Depends whom you ask, some will also give you a hard time about not applying for residency at the one year mark. But I cannot find hard evidence of such a requirement, nor of one requiring one to get a work permit (for a retiree!).
Belize bureaucracy, if you don't like the first answer, just ask somebody else...

Thank you. I will try to see if they will provide it in writing. They do not keep their websites current at all. That is a joke.

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