Amnesty Program falls short of 60k goal

Thursday, November 9th, 2023


The Amnesty Program designed by the Government of Belize to help regularize undocumented migrants in the country is now closed. The project aimed to amend the immigration status of about 60,000 migrants living in the country but only received 12,765 applications from citizens of 32 countries. The government noted on Tuesday, November 7th, that those applications are currently at the vetting stage, with a forecasted completion of the screening by March 31, 2024.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration and the Ministry of Rural Transformation, Community Development, Labor and Local Government said on Tuesday that the primary purposes of the amnesty program were for managing migration, national security, economic development, and humanitarian assistance. The screening that will lead to the final decision for each applicant is also currently undergoing security clearance by the Ministry of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries.
While the applications are processed, the Immigration Ministry stated that the Amnesty Program receipts they issued are legal documents entitling migrants to remain and work in Belize until there is a final decision. The program applies to undocumented citizens of Central America and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
The program launched in August of 2022 and was to close in November of that same year. The Immigration Ministry provided a three-month extension until February 2023. The requirements stipulated by the amnesty program and the Ministry of Immigration indicated that registered asylum seekers automatically qualified for their residency. Irregular immigrants who have resided continuously in Belize for five or more years were also eligible. The eligible migrants were encouraged to make online appointments to start their application process before the program expired. GOB said they invested around $3 million in the Amnesty Program, which did not even manage to attract half of the targeted estimated 60,000 irregular migrants in the country.


 

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