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Nov 1, 2017

Director, Not Ministers, Has Final Say on Visa Grants

Godwin Hulse

The law on granting visas for entry into Belize places discretion solely on the shoulder of the Director of Immigration, assisted by her juniors in the department, to accept or deny such documents. But it has been well-established that certain ministers of government had expectations that their written recommendations and, in some cases, phone calls and personal visits might sway the department in favour of their friends.  In response to questions on whether a list of such recommendations was kept, Immigration Minister Hulse told the Committee that the recommendations were not strictly necessary and in fact overkill, and repeated that no department had any reason to be afraid of retribution if the ministers’ dictates were not followed.


Godwin Hulse, Minister of Immigration and Nationality

“The question can’t be who was bringing in so much visas. Again, the department has a structure for visas – clear structure. The director is responsible; the director is subject to the direction of no one with respect to this – ministers, politicians, other people etcetera on behalf of any person. Granted, I don’t personally believe that any minister should act as any agent or anything because I don’t personally believe it. But we all know the system in Belize where people know friends, people get contributions and all sort of things and people apply for visas, so it stands that many persons will say, please, can you facilitate this and facilitate that if that is okay. Personally, I do not support because I don’t think it needs to be supported and I don’t think we need to do that because the process is clear. The person applies, especially in the case of Chinese – they pay their two thousand dollars, there are some requirements that need to be met and the director can say no. The director can say no. And I did hear on the stand where persons were talking about intimidation – does not apply to the director; the director is appointed properly, the director cannot be removed; and if she is transferred she or he has to be given another head of department position within the structure here or sent home and paid off until retirement. So I really don’t buy that at all.”

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