Immigration and Nationality Department celebrates 27 Years Print E-mail
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Thursday, 13 June 2013 00:00

Hon. Elvin Penner, Minister of Immigration and NationalitySome twenty seven years after opening to the public as a separate entity of the Police Department, the Immigration and Nationality Services held an open day last Friday at its Headquarters on Dry Creek Street, near the Mountain View Boulevard in Belmopan. The special guest and speaker for the occasion was the Hon. Elvin Penner, who has direct responsibility over the Department.

Minister Penner gave an update of the Immigration and Nationality Services as efforts were underway to bring efficiency to the Department as well as improve the services offered to both National and International clients.

In his presentation to invited guests from other Ministries and Institutions around Belize, Minister Penner stated that the Immigration Department is one of the most important Departments in Belize not only for the crucial services that are provided but because of the responsibility to monitor those that intend to enter or exit the country.

One of the steps that the Department of Immigration is about to undertake is going further in knowing the history of those planning to come to Belize.

“We all know not all persons try to come to Belize with only good intentions so as we improve our border management systems, we are more and more capable to prevent persons from entering our great country if they are suspected to come with ill intentions,” stated Minister Penner.

“The Immigration Department can already and in the near future will be able to in greater detail know every person’s history; especially criminal history, before they are given entry to Belize…More importantly we will be able to detain persons at the entry points of our country that have criminal records in other countries and are of interest to other countries in the world.”

In an interview with The Guardian, Minister Penner stressed that his Department is currently working on a number of plans to make Belize friendly to visitors who want to do business here. He reported that there are many investors in Belize but more would like to visit if they had some sort of status for them to be able to come into the country. (Minister Penner steered clear of the former Economic Citizen Program, which was “…discontinued because of the misuse and abuse of the program…”) Penner said that an effort will be made to implement ‘something’ that will give business people opportunity to come and do business comfortably in Belize.

“…Because there is a lot of interest internationally to come and invest in Belize and we want as a Government, we want to do everything possible to get them here because we will need their investment to grow the economy,” he said.

While it is too early to indicate what that status as described by Minister Penner will be, the Minister reminded that Belize is highly dependent on foreign investment to continue growing the economy.

Meanwhile; acting Director of Immigration Maria Marin is looking forward to a major border management system that will allow a better management and control of the migratory flows in and out of the country. Marin advises that for those individuals, who are not of a regular status, they can come into the Department of Immigration and Nationality Services to request advise on what needs to be done to remain in the country should that be their intention.

Marin would also like the public to know that her Department is moving in the direction of training officers in the area of improved public relations. While watching out for the criminal elements, officers from the Department of Immigrations and Nationality are being encouraged to continue to have good public relations skills, friendliness and a willingness to serve, because the first and last person a visitor to Belize sees is an Immigration Officer. As a result the Department is accessible at an e-mail address, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , where concerns can be expressed therein.

The first intake of twelve civilians to the Immigration and Nationality Services was on June 9th, 1986, from which the Department now boasts of having more than ninety officers distributed at Headquarters in Belmopan and at six of Belize’s entry points.

The mission of the Immigration and Nationality Services is to protect the borders of Belize, regulate the flow of visitors, and provide for their legal stay. The Department is tasked under that Mission to take legal recourse against the violators of the immigration regulations and facilitate the travel of Belizeans through the provision of internationally recognized and respected travel documents.