The title says it all – my work permit has been finalized. I have the approval letter in hand, I have the stamp in my passport and I have the official immigration form stating that I am authorized to work here in Belize for the next year. This means a few things:
1) no more going to immigration every month to have my passport stamped with a visitor’s visa stamp – savings $850 BZD ($425 USD)
2) now I can work openly without fear of reprisal from the local government
3) now I can get going on publicly setting up my real estate office
4) I am on my way to obtaining my residency permit
In all, even though I was extremely frustrated at times, the process hasn’t taken as long as I have heard that it took for others. My experience was 6 weeks. I heard of one individual today whose work permit took over 8 months to get taken care of. Another individual that I have spoken with received hers after starting the process 14 weeks ago. So, 6 weeks is good. On the downside though – it was only supposed to take 5 days. That is what I paid for-an expedited process. That is not what I got and this was a contributing factor in my frustration.
Additionally, I found it frustrating working with an individual who kept telling me that all the changes I was being told were protocol. It is obvious to me that this individual isn’t quite up to speed on what a protocol is. If this person was following protocol then I wouldn’t have been told day after day that yes my process will be done today and then receive another phone call later in the day to say that I needed to do something else. This is not a protocol – this is somebody learning as they go.
Suggestions I will make to others who are looking to obtain work permits include:
1) Stay in the same town/city/locale as your lawyer or your representative until the process is completely underway. Part of my issue is that I came to Punta Gorda after starting the process so communications were delayed by distance.
2) Make sure that your lawyer or representative knows exactly what you will be doing with your work permit. I believe there are different permits based on what work you will be doing. As well, will you be working for somebody or working for yourself? Since I will be opening a franchise I needed to have a letter indicating that my position was in good standing and I didn’t have it with me so time was spent waiting for this letter to arrive.
3) Make sure that you go over each and every detail on the requirements list. At one point I was informed I didn’t need a tuberculosis test and then further on into the process I was informed that I did. Fortunately, the lawyer and I had discussed that point specifically.
Next, I need to get a social security number. And I sure do hope the process is less frustrating and less time consuming.