Migration institutions in Belize
The administration, control, and management of border stations are functions of the Border Management Agency.
The Agency also provides and maintains the services and resources it considers necessary or desirable for the efficient operation of border stations. As required by the Ministry, it will provide and coordinate provision of emergency services, including rescue and fire extinguishing services, at border stations.
The Border Management Agency is a body duly incorporated under the Border Management Agency Act, referred to as “BMA”. Border management operations began in 1999 where upon technical and community consultation processes began for the construction of new facilities. The research and analysis exercises provided the government with the data that facilitated the introduction of new legislation for the management and administration of Belize’s Port Of Entry (POE). These ports of entry presently include the Western Border with Guatemala approximately one mile from Benque Viejo del Carmen Town in the Cayo District, the Santa Elena Border with Mexico at our Northern Border in the Corozal District and the Punta Gorda Point of Entry in PuntaGordaTown in the Toledo District.
Functions of the Agency:
Summarizing as succinctly as is possible, the key functions of the Agency are:
- To provide high quality, efficient administration and control of prescribed border points and related services on a financially viable medium ensuring self sustainability of the Agency.
- To provide and maintain such services and facilities as are in its opinion necessary or desirable for the efficient operation of prescribed border points.
- To provide for border security.
- To work in collaboration with counterparts including Customs, Immigration, Police and other affiliates of interest to the Agency.
- To provide or to coordinate the provisions of emergency services, including rescue and fire fighting services at prescribed border points.
- To promote, develop and maintain the border points entrusted under its care ensuring accountability and reinvestments of its revenues generated at the border points, including a continuous outlook for other sources of revenue via new border developments as world affairs and events demand it for self reliance.
- Following its Slogan, Philosophy, Mission and Vision the Agency is fully integrated into the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation.
In the exercise of its functions, the Agency can build, alter, and maintain buildings at border points; purchase lands or buildings; grant, according to terms and conditions the Agency considers adequate, performance of any commercial activity at any border point; grant leases, sub-leases, or other interests or concessions regarding lands or buildings within the prescribed border point; carry out activities that it considers advantageous, needed, or desirable for, or in relation to the exercise and performance of its functions.
Actions to connect with and protect national emigrants abroad
“Engaging the Belizean Diaspora” Program
Approved by the Cabinet of Belize in September 2009, the “Engaging the Belizean Diaspora” program was established based on the following five pillars:
- Sending a renewed message of welcome from the homeland to the Diaspora and the willingness for and the commitment to development matters.
- Improved diplomatic, consular, and information services for the Diaspora communities, to encourage their connection with Belize and promote actions for its development.
- Adoption of skills, knowledge, investment funds, and technology of the Diaspora providing in this manner comprehensive collaboration capabilities that would benefit both participants and Belize.
- Access to development opportunities, providing incentives to the Diaspora’s initiatives.
- Evolution of a strategic alliance between Belizean Diaspora organisations, diplomatic and consular missions, and the Diaspora Focal Point and Diaspora Resource Institutions.
The Program has as its objective to connect the Belizean Diaspora with the local population in the homeland, facilitating the exchange of experiences to improve the quality of life of Belizeans wherever they are found.
Diaspora Returnee Incentive Program
The Diaspora Returnee Incentive Program (DRIP) was established to attract Belizeans in the Diaspora that are considering repatriation. The program targets those Belizeans that are considering returning to their home, and have funds to invest in their communities in Belize, whether in housing or business, or those who have a pension or recurrent monthly income from a guaranteed source, that they may be able to deposit or disburse in the local economy. It also provides economic and social benefits, through implementation of this program.
Any member of the Diaspora that returns to Belize may be designated an ‘Authorised Diaspora Returnee’ if he/she:
- Is a citizen of Belize
- Has resided a minimum of 10 consecutive years outside of Belize, demonstrated by the presentation of official documentation.
This Program shall be administered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in conjunction with the Ministry of Finance, with the Diaspora Desk Officer having the responsibility for its day-to-day administration.
Each application for the Diaspora Returnee Incentive Program will be processed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and the Department of Immigration and Nationality.
The DRIP Applicant will:
- Submit a Request for Exemption: Persons interested in the program must submit an “Application Form For Diaspora Returnee Incentive Program” to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the following supporting documentation:
- Birth Certificate- A copy of the birth certificate for the applicant
- Marriage Certificate (if married and spouse is a dependent)
- An Official Passport
- Proof of Residency – Outside of Belize for the ten (10) years prior to returning to Belize
- Time-frame: Submit his/her “application” within one (1) year of arrival into the country of Belize, or
- Submittals before arrival: Submit his/her “Application Form for Diaspora Returnee Incentive Program” before coming to the country of Belize, by mailing all required documents Original or Certified copies (as stated in 1..2.3 above in relation to Passports). Please DO NOT SEND YOUR PASSPORT.
- Terms and Conditions: Submit a signed copy of the Terms & Conditions provided.
- Legal Responsibilities: Each Individual is ultimately responsible for the certification of authenticity of every document he/she submits to the Government of Belize, in reference to this program.
PRIVILEGES AND EXEMPTIONS OF QUALIFIED DIASPORA RETURNEES:
A Person who has been designated a Qualified Diaspora Returnee shall be entitled:
- to enter and remain in Belize with his/her dependents in accordance with current immigration laws at the time of entry
- upon entering Belize, the Diaspora Returnee shall be permitted to import into Belize;
- Personal Effects: his/her personal effects free of all import duties and taxes (up to $20,000.00 USD in value);
- Tools of Trade: his/her personal tools of trade (proof of trade such as trade license or employment in area of expertise) with a maximum value to be determined by the Ministry of Finance;
- Personal Transportation: approved means of transportation – not older than 5 years – for his/her personal use (i.e. in 2010 a vehicle must be a 2005 year model or newer/ in 2011 the cut-off will be a 2006 vehicle), free of all import duties and taxes EXCEPT environmental tax;
- Upon importing of his/her approved means of transportation, Pay ONLY the required “Environmental Tax” for said vehicle as stipulated by law
- exemption granted only ONCE to any individual (individual’s name and information will be kept in a database to tract program usage and avert program violations)
- no second vehicle will qualify for this exemption (only one vehicle per family will be allowed under this exemption).
Terms and conditions
- All Qualified Diaspora Returnees must adhere to the general procedures cited by the Customs Department for the clearing of all personal and household effects including ‘Mode of Transportation’.
- Qualified Diaspora Returnees within this program must inform the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding any changes stated on the application form. Failure to do so may result in the revocation of applicant’s status.[i]
- All benefits provided by this program will be exclusively used by the Qualified Diaspora Returnees.
- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has the authority to carry out any investigation with respect to the validity of any document provided by the applicant under this program.
- All documents presented to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs become the property of the Ministry.