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Residency Approved

| by Jessica

We applied for Belize Residency in August 2018 after living here for a full year. We were extremely limited in our travel that first year because when establishing residency you cannot travel more than 2 weeks in a year. After submitting the application, we were still limited but with slightly more generous rules (no travel for more than 30 days at a time, and no more than 90 total days in a year)

We’d had our interview in August (2 weeks after submitting) and a follow up police interview about a month after that. Then we waited. I had heard complaints that residency applications could take YEARS to get approved. In the meantime, you still have to maintain your legal status with work permits, student visas and/or tourist visas. 


Surprisingly, we got the call in January that we were approved!! It only took 6 months. The only thing left to do was to show up with $BZ2000 for each person (4 of us so that’s a lot of money!), AND submit a Security Bond for each one of us. A Security Bond is something a Belizean signs, promising to pay for our airfare home in case we should get kicked out of the country. 


I had to make a trip to Belmopan to pay for the Residency fee and submit the Security Bonds. This is a 1.5 hour trip. Knowing that trips to government offices in Belize tend to take longer that you think and sometimes you are turned away for forgetting things, I called ahead to make an appointment. I was told no appointment was necessary because its just a simple payment. 


When I got to the Belmopan Immigration office I told the security guard at the door that I was there to pay for my Residency. He told me to take a seat. He didn’t put my name on a list or anything which I thought was strange. But, I wanted to be patient so I just sat and waited and watched the activity around me.

 

There was a woman taking a long time at the window and arguing with the man behind the window. From what I could gather, she had forgotten some paperwork in order to submit her Residency application, and she must have driven a long way because she was very upset at the idea of leaving to get her missing items. She argued and argued that the last time she was here she was told exactly what to bring and he was now asking for more items. This is not an uncommon situation. In my experience, the person standing in front of you is the only one who can approve the list of items you’ve brought. If a different person gave you the list of items to bring, it takes a bit of luck for that list to match the expectations of the person in front of you now. 😛

During my wait I checked in with the Security Guard and he realized he’d made a mistake. He should have ushered me right up to the window to ask to pay my fee. But now I’d have to wait for the woman in yellow. She was there until the lunch hour. Only because of the lunch hour, did she finally leave. By then the treasury window had closed and I couldn’t pay my fee. The immigration official promised to see me right after lunch and after I’d paid.

Long story short, I waited for about 5 hours for something that should have taken 10 minutes. Partially due to me being polite and not being more clear with the security guard. But also overwhelmingly because the person in front of me took 2 hours of the official’s time to no end. For some reason, they humored her with conversation rather than insisting she leave. Nice of them, I guess.

 I paid my fee for 4 Residencies and brought the receipts to the immigration official. He checked everything over and took my passports for processing. Ugh! So scary when you have to turn over your passport. What if it gets misplaced!

I called 2 or 3 weeks later and they were ready! So the 4 of us went to Belmopan together to pick them up and celebrate. They have a big book of PR (Permanent Residents). The officer wrote all of our names in the book and we all had to sign. I guess if our passports go down and the computers aren't working, they can just check the book!

   


We celebrated by having lunch at Cheers. Rex had a gift certificate for a dozen Cheers (famous) brownies, so we picked up those as well. All in all a fast trip to immigration and delicious lunch!

   






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