Belize - Belize News - Channel5Belize.com - Great Belize Productions - Belize Breaking News
Home » People & Places » Three years later, Immigration Director says verification for visas still a problem
Sep 6, 2017

Three years later, Immigration Director says verification for visas still a problem

As many as one hundred visa applications appear weekly on the desk of the visa vetting committee established in the aftermath of the Won Hong Kim/Elvin Penner scandal. It was one of the two oversight committees put in place to help regulate the activities of the Immigration Department; the other is the nationality review committee. Each has participation from members of the social partners and chief executive officers in the ministries of Home Affairs, Foreign Affairs and Immigration, among others. But three years on, director of Immigration Diana Locke admitted this afternoon at the Senate Special Select Committee’s public hearings, that there are still potential loopholes for those with nefarious purposes to sneak through. In the case of visas, the committee still depends on sponsors for visa applicants, especially Chinese ones, to present relevant data to satisfy the committee that they can take care of their visiting loved one, but despite some investigation there is not much beyond the documents to prove that.

 

Diana Locke, Director of Immigration

Diana Locke

“It’s a process that is very difficult, because we have no way of verifying that the persons presented in front of us are indeed relatives, genuine relatives, as opposed to what is on paper.”

 

Eamon Courtenay, P.U.P. Senator

“But you used the word there, ‘persons’; you mean paper that is presented in front of you?”

 

Diana Locke

“Yes, that is correct. Usually a family member would come in to the Department to apply for the visa on behalf of the visiting family member.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“And you have this bunch of paper in front of you, and you all are attempting, looking at paper, to determine the authenticity of the document and the genuineness of the application itself.”

 

Diana Locke

“And the information that is presented by the interviewing officer from the Investigation Section, who interviews that family member.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“Right, and that person who has interviewed, supposedly, a family member, what type of that report will that person give to you?”

 

Diana Locke

“I think the investigation team would question them relating to whatever supporting documents they brought, if it’s company documents to show that I have a business; I can support my family member as they come here to visit, this is my business establishment. We’ve seen trade license; we’ve seen bank statements or bank letters; we’ve seen company documents, that sort of thing that is presented to demonstrate, particularly on this end. From the receiving end, sometimes we get a letter stating that this person is employed at this particular place in this capacity – sales agent, earning so much money.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“Which in fact, Director, means nothing, because you can’t verify it?”

 

Diana Locke

“That is true.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“And I want to inquire in terms of what is happening here in Belize. The fact that someone says I have a company, it is located at eighteen Oriole Avenue in Belmopan, and you go there and you may see a sign; you may get a bank statement that says there is ten thousand dollars in an account; in truth and in fact, you’re looking at paper?”

 

Diana Locke

“That is correct.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“In terms of genuine information, unless an interview is done with respect to the applicant himself or herself, you are attempting to do what is nearly impossible – satisfy yourself that this is a genuine application only from paper?”

 

Diana Locke

“That is correct.”

 

Locke later said that in some cases, it is possible to personally interview visa applicants, for example in Cuba.

Be Sociable, Share!


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

Advertise Here

Leave a Reply

CAPTCHA Image
*