In relative terms, Belize is the Central American country that has received the most immigration since its independence in the early 1980s. Immigration in 2011 stood at 4.3 per thousand in the population, approximately the same relative level as Barbados. .
The foreign-born population in 2013 represented 15.3% of the country’s total population, the highest in Central America. The second place is occupied by Costa Rica with a much lower percentage level of 8.6 percent. Guatemalans and Salvadorans make up nearly 65 percent of the foreign-born population residing in Belize.
The main country of destination for Belizean emigrants is the United States, where almost three quarters of them live. Although the numbers are still very low, Canada (7%) and the Russian Federation (4%) have become emerging destination countries in recent years.
The situation of Belizean emigrants in the labor market in Europe and the United States has been mixed. While the employment rate for men increased by 7 percentage points, employment among women decreased by 6 points.
Although Belize receives, in absolute numbers, the smallest amount of remittances in Central America (120 million dollars in 2013), it represents 8% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The number of asylum applications in Belize is extremely low. By 2013, Belize received 52 asylum applications from citizens of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, and in the same year, only 21 refugees resided in the country, all from El Salvador.
The legal framework that governs immigration is the Immigration Act (Chapter 156S). A new immigration policy reform is currently being formulated; however, details are not yet available.
As a member of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM), Belize allows the free movement of people between CARICOM member countries without the need for a tourist visa. Additionally, under qualified CARICOM national status, any CARICOM national wishing to work in Belize can obtain a Certificate of Competence from their country of origin. The Certificate allows any CARICOM national to seek and obtain employment without the need to obtain a work permit. For Belize, there are nine categories that qualify for free movement: university graduates, media workers, athletes, artists, musicians, professional nurses, qualified teachers, artisans, and holders of an associate’s degree or the equivalent.
Main indicators of migratory movements, the migrant population and the employment of emigrants
|Immigration (foreigners)||Number of people||Per 1000 inhabitants||Change in percentage|
|Permanent immigration (foreigners) by type||Number of people||% distribution|
|Temporary immigration (foreigners) by type||Number of people||% distribution|
|Emigration (nationals)||Number of people||% of the total||% change|
|Non-standardized data of destination countries||2009||2010||2011||2012||2012||2012/2009|
|All the countries||1828||1765||1590||1700||100||-7.0021881838074|
|Asylum applications and refugees||per million inhabitants||Number of people|
|Components of population growth||per thousand inhabitants|
|Natural growth (vegetative)||31,821||28,816||24,981||22,622||20,601|
|Foreign-born population||Percentage with respect to the total population||Persons||% change|
|remittances||Millions of dollars||% of GDP||% change|
|Macroeconomic indicators||Annual growth in %||Average annual growth||Level|
|Real Gross Domestic Product||3.3238734332945||2.1039520172634||3.8247477174436||1.5256749229897||2.6945620227478||–|
|Gross Domestic Product/per capita (PPP at 2011 international dollars)||0.78627030702558||-0.37697902881213||1.3321335804271||-0.87252119450424||0.21722591603408||8215|
|Labor insertion of national emigrants in Europe and the United States||percentages|