Thursday, April 18, 2024

Belize continues to seek a Schengen Visa waiver


The Government of Belize has been advocating for Belizeans to be able to travel to the European Union (EU) without the need to apply for a Schengen Visa. The discussions continue as the matter has become a priority for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade. Belizeans needing to travel to the EU are required to conduct their visa process in Mexico City, Mexico, as there are no European embassies in Belize.
The situation has become a concern as many Central American neighbors, such as Guatemala, bordering Belize, enjoy the Schengen visa waiver. These also include a handful of Caribbean island nations such as Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Dominica, St. Kitt and Nevis, and St. Lucia.
Belize’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, the Honourable Francis Fonseca, said this is an issue he continues to raise with the Europeans. “We have not let up on that issue,” he told reporters. “Even in some initial meetings that I have had with representatives of the EU and other institutions, we are emphasizing the importance of that issue to Belize,” Fonseca added that Belize’s Ambassador to the EU based in Brussels, Belgium, Her Excellency Dr. Gianni Avila has that task as a priority for the country. “We will continue to engage with them every opportunity I get to speak with representatives of countries in the EU,” Fonseca stressed.
The head of Belizean diplomacy added that his government has raised the issue, explaining how critically important a Schengen visa waiver is for Belize. Fonseca pointed out that one of the benefits of a visa-free program is that it will open opportunities for students and further commercial and economic activities between Belize and the EU.
The foreign minister was optimistic about the discussions and ended by stressing that it was a project they needed to accomplish. He is hopeful that a positive result can be obtained, if not this year, in 2025. In addition, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has indicated that Belize meets all the criteria to be included in this visa waiver program.
To consider a waiver of Schengen Visa requirements, the EU considers such factors as the level of support among Member States, travel document security, regional coherence, reciprocity, risk of illegal migration, public security, relations with third countries, human rights, and economic ties with the EU. Belize has maintained a strong relationship with the European nations, and considering the abovementioned requirements, the government is confident that they have met such criteria.

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