In relative terms, Belize is the Central American country that has had the most immigration after independence in the early 1980s. Permanent immigration flows in 2011 stood at about 4.3 per thousand population, about the same relative level as Barbados.
The foreign-born population in 2013 represented 15.3 percent of the total Belizean population, the highest in Central America, with Costa Rica holding a distant second place at 8.6 percent. Guatemalans and Salvadorians account for almost 65 percent of the foreign-born population residing in Belize.
The main destination country for Belizean emigrants is the United States, where almost three-quarters of emigrant Belizeans live. Although the numbers are still very low, Canada (7%) and the Russian Federation (4%) have become emerging destination countries in recent years.
The labor market outcomes for Belizean emigrants in Europe and the United States have been mixed. While the employment rate among men increased by 7 percentage points, employment among women decreased by 6 points.
Although in absolute numbers Belize receives the smallest amount of remittances in Central America (120 million dollars in 2013), they represented more than 5 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Asylum seeking in Belize is extremely low in absolute terms. In 2013, Belize had 52 asylum seeker requests from citizens of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, and, in the same year, only 21 refugees resided in the country, all from El Salvador.
The legal framework governing immigration is the Immigration Act (Chapter 156S). A new immigration policy reform is currently being formulated; however, no details are as yet available.
As a Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) member, Belize allows for the free movement of people among CARICOM country members without the need of a tourist visa. Additionally, under the CARICOM skilled national status, any CARICOM national that wishes to work in Belize can do so by obtaining a Skills Certificate from the country of origin. The Certificate allows any CARICOM national to seek and to engage in employment without the need to obtain a work permit. For Belize, there are nine categories that qualify for free movement: university graduates, media workers, sports persons, artists, musicians, professional nurses, qualified teachers, artisans and holders of an associate degrees or equivalent.
Recent trends in migrant’s flows and stocks and in labor market outcomes of emigrants
|Migration inflows (foreign nationals)||Persons||Per 1000 inhabitants||Percent change|
|Permanent migration inflows (foreign nationals) by type||Persons||% distribution|
|Temporary migration inflows (foreign nationals) by type||Persons||% distribution|
|Migration outflows (nationals)||Persons||% of total||% change|
|From unstandardised destination country data||2009||2010||2011||2012||2012||2012/2009|
|Asylum seekers and refugees||Per million inhabitants||Number of persons|
|Inflows of asylum seekers||80.906148867314||101.17617301126||178.97920138246||156.67369689666||129.43380503942||52|
|Refugees resident in the country||433.6569579288||246.61692171494||86.403752391532||63.272069900572||65||21|
|Components of population growth||Per 1000 inhabitants|
|Foreign-born population||Percentage of the total population||Persons||% change|
|Remittances||Millions of dollars||% of GDP||% change|
|Macroeconomic indicators||Annual growth in %||Average annual growth||Level|
|GDP/per capita ((PPP ) in constant 2011 international dollars)||0.78627030702558||-0.37697902881213||1.3321335804271||-0.87252119450424||0.21722591603408||8215|
|Labour market outcomes of emigrants in Europe and the United States||Percentages|