Belize Embraces CARICOM’s Free Movement for Nationals, Foreign Minister Says No Impact on Migration Laws
Free movement for CARICOM national among members is the latest venture that is being embraced by Belize. Recently, the CARICOM Heads of Government decided on free movement for all CARICOM nationals by March of next year. The move goes beyond the current CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) regime of free movement of agreed categories of skilled nationals and is believed to be a positive venture. Today, Minister of Immigration Eamon Courtenay explained the decision and how it would not impact Belize’s current laws surrounding migration.
Eamon Courtenay, Minister of Foreign Affairs: “CARICOM has always been committed to free movement of goods, of capital and of people. And so far it has been on a gradual basis in which skilled persons get a skills certificate and they can go from one territory to the next, one country to the next and remain and work or live. Of course, Caribbean nationals can move as tourists to visit any CARICOM and you have a right of six months to remain. What we are now going to start working on the instructions of the heads of government is to provide for unlimited free movement of CARICOM nationals among the CARICOM territories. The expectation is that there is a significant amount of legal and administrative work that needs to be done and it is hoped that by March next year that will be completed and then after that CARICOM nationals can move as a community. And that applies to those countries that are participating in the single market and economy. So we must remember that free movement in any community, immigration laws remain in place. So even though you have a right, if you have a visa to go to the United States or a country where you don’t need a visa, you’re still on entry you’re interviewed by an immigration officer. So in the case of free movement of nationals within CARICOM who come to Belize, they will still be interviewed by immigration officers to determine that they satisfy entry requirements. And if it is determined that they do not meet the requirements, they will be refused entry. The treaty provides for that.”
The decision of the free movement was made at CARICOM’s 45th Regular Meeting of Conference of Heads of Government.