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Jan 18, 2017

Ministers and Others Not Prohibited from Recommending Visa Applicants; Sponsors More Tight

Ruth Meighan was extensively questioned on the process of sponsorship and recommendation for visas, which according to the Report was one of the easiest ways into the fast-track world of Belizean identity. The Department, according to Meighan, had accepted policy that if needed, sponsors would be able to establish proof of financial viability for visitors on visa, whereas recommenders merely testified to their good character and bona fides. The latter included Ministers—as many as thirteen are named in the Special Audit—but was open to just about everyone; while the former was a select list that was not fully documented.

 

Mark Lizarraga, Senator, Business Community

“The processes as you had established, did not make allowances for recommenders, it made allowances for sponsors. And so this is why I had asked you earlier if those letters were treated as sponsorship or recommenders?”

 

Ruth Meighan

Ruth Meighan, Former Director of Immigration

“Those were recommenders.”

 

Mark Lizarraga

“They were recommenders, but the process did not call or did not recognize recommenders?”

 

Ruth Meighan

“It did.”

 

Mark Lizarraga

“It said sponsors; where in the process did it say…?”

 

Ruth Meighan

“But that’s why I am saying, that that we had there was a policy within the – because not only from Ministers we got recommenders…”

 

Mark Lizarraga

“Right, Mayors?”

 

Ruth Meighan

“So obviously it was a process, it was something that we also looked at. But the intervention in the process itself is not there, what they did was to make recommendation, as far as I am aware.”

 

Mark Lizarraga

“But you accepted their letters of recommendations?”

 

Ruth Meighan

“Yes, like with everybody else. Anybody who makes recommendations, we accept their letters.”

 

Aldo Salazar, Chair, Senate Select Committee

“I would like to ask was there anything prohibiting a Minister, caretaker, Mayor, representative, teacher, lawyer, doctor, John Q. Public, from making a recommendation for a visa issued to any particular person?”

 

Ruth Meighan

“Not as far as I am aware.”

 

Ruth Meighan

“The recommender is the person who would say, they are recommending the person to come. I don’t know what kind of sponsorship relationship would be attached to that recommender.”

 

Mark Lizarraga

“But you needed to have a sponsor to apply or to get a visa, am I correct?”

 

Ruth Meighan

“I don’t know if that was really necessary; it is a part of the requirement but not for all applications for visa; as long as I believed the person could have shown where they could afford to visit on their own, I think that was also taken into consideration.”

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