Belize seeking Schengen Area visa-free status

The content originally appeared on: Caribbean News Service

The Belize government says it will continue to advocate for the country to be included among regional nations whose citizens are allowed to travel to the Schengen Area in Europe visa-free.

Passports holders of Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Dominica, St Kitt-Nevis, and St Lucia are allowed to travel to the Schengen Area visa-free, which comprises 27 European countries.

But this applies only to short visits of up to 90 days every 180-day period.

Belizeans have had to travel to Mexico in order to apply for a Schengen visa and Foreign Affairs Minister, Francis Fonseca, says this is an issue he continues to raise with the Europeans.

“We haven’t let up on that issue. Even in some initial meetings that I’ve had with representatives of the EU and other institutions, we are emphasising the importance of that issue to Belize.

“So no, we won’t let up on that issue. Our Ambassador in Brussels has that charge as a priority issue for us. So we will continue to engage with them every opportunity I get to speak with representatives of countries in the EU,” Fonseca said.

He said Belompan has raised the issue explaining to the Europeans how critically important it is for Belize.

“Next week I have another meeting with the EU….and I will bring that issue up again. So we will continue to work very aggressively on that issue.”

He said one of the benefits of a visa-free programme is that it will open studying opportunities for students.

“That’s absolutely one of the benefits of the visa programme and having that visa waiver. It presents so many opportunities. Education is one, obviously economic opportunities, as well. There are so many benefits to it. And we certainly hope that we can advance that issue and that Belize will be included if not this year, next year. Something we will continue to work on,” Fonseca said.

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