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Investment-based Immigration to Belize

Belize ImmigrationBelize is a beautiful country located in Central America, bordered by Mexico and Guatemala. Its thriving tourist industry is a result of its interesting culture, famous beaches, temperate climate, and opportunities for boating, scuba diving, and snorkeling. Investors seeking to direct their funds to a growing economy should consider Belize as the nation’s agricultural, tourism, and exportation of petroleum and crude oil economic sectors are consistently on the rise.

One of the ways to obtain Belize permanent residence (and ultimately citizenship) is by investing into a business in the country. While the nation’s formal Citizenship-by-Investment Program was suspended in 2002, there are still numerous options for investors interested in relocating to Belize.

Entering Belize and Establishing a Business

An investor who wishes to establish a business in Belize must register the business name with the Belize Company Registrar. To do so, a foreign national must apply with a partner who is either a Belize citizen or permanent resident.

To enter Belize in order to find an appropriate business partner, the foreign national applies for a Visitor’s Visa at the local Belizean embassy (although citizens of the U.S., Mexico, Austria, Costa, Rica, the British Commonwealth, CARICOM participants, and EU member states do not require a Visitor’s Visa). The Visitor’s Visa may be valid for an initial period of one moth to twelve months and may be extended.

Once the foreign investor finds a suitable partner, they can register their business name with the Company Registrar. Once the Registrar confirms no other business is using the proposed name, the Registrar issues the partners a Certificate of Business Name Registration. With this Certificate, the partners can register for the other necessary paperwork such as a trade license, local bank account, taxpayer identification number, etc.

Applying for Permanent Residence After the Business is Established

Once the foreign national is authorized to do business, the investor can engage in the commercial activity of the enterprise, provided that the national continue to extend the Visitor’s Visa in compliance with the Belize immigration laws.

After residing in Belize for one year, the foreign national becomes eligible to apply for permanent residence. To do so, the investor must submit a completed Permanent Residency Form to the Immigration Department and complete an interview conducted by an immigration official. If the application is approved, the foreign national receives the permanent residence card.

Applying for Belize Citizenship

Once the investor has a permanent resident for five years, the investor may apply for citizenship. The citizenship application consists of a written form, interviews with the immigration and police departments, and sitting for a civil test. When the application is approved, the investor participates in a swearing-in ceremony and the Belize government issues the Nationality Certification to the new citizen.

Benefits of Belize Citizenship

With Belize citizenship, the investor is entitled to the unrestricted right to live, work, and travel in and out of Belize. Additionally, due to the country’s membership in CARICOM, the passport received upon approval for citizenship will be a CARICOM passport, valid for travel to the other membership countries.

Given the complexity of business registration and operation in Belize, combined with the need to comply with the country’s immigration laws, it is highly recommended that interested investors contact skilled attorneys to help them complete these processes.
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