Guatemala: Rights and obligations of permanent residents in Guatemala; reasons why a permanent resident may lose their status; whether it is possible to resume it and the procedures to do so [GTM104202.FE]

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa

1. Rights of Permanent Residents

During a telephone interview with the Research Directorate, the officer-in-charge of the permanent and temporary resident visa unit at the Operations and Immigration Office (Subdirección de Operaciones y Extranjería ) of the Guatemalan Immigration Branch (Dirección General de Migración de Guatemala ) stated that permanent residents in Guatemala have the same rights as Guatemalan citizens, except for the right to vote and to run for office (Guatemala 7 Sept. 2012). Permanent residents can also work, if they have obtained authorization from the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (Ministerio de Trabajo y Previsión Social ) (ibid.; ibid. 1998, Art. 43), except for those who have obtained permanent residence as an annuitant (ibid., Art. 32).

2. Obligations of Permanent Residents

According to the officer-in-charge, permanent residents in Guatemala are required to meet the following obligations:

  • They may not remain outside the country for more than one year. If they are outside the country for more than one year, they may lose their permanent resident status.
  • They must inform the permanent and temporary resident visa unit of any change in their personal information, especially their civil status and address, and in their passport.
  • They must renew their permanent resident visa every five years.
  • They must pay the annual fee of US$40 for permanent residents (ibid. 7 Sept. 2012).

The Branch website also states that permanent residents must obtain a permit from the Operations and Immigration Office if they plan to live outside the country for more than one year (ibid. n.d.a.).

3. Obtaining a Residence Visa
3.1 Permanent Residence

The officer-in-charge stated that a person with temporary resident status may obtain permanent residence if they have lived in Guatemala for six months and they have demonstrated to the immigration authorities that their situation is stable (ibid.). In addition, Article 42 of the Immigration Law (Ley de Migración ) states that a person may obtain permanent resident status if they have been married to a Guatemalan citizen for at least one year; in that case, the person must provide the documents specified in the immigration regulations (ibid. 1998).

The Immigration Branch website lists the documents required in order to request permanent residence:

  • Recent photograph
  • Original passport and a certified photocopy
  • Certificate indicating the validity of the passport issued by the accredited diplomatic representation in Guatemala or a certified birth certificate if the applicant's country of origin has no diplomatic relations with Guatemala
  • Proof that no criminal record exists in the country where the applicant lived during the five years preceding the application. If such a document does not exist in that country, a certificate is required to indicate that the country does not issue such a document, as is an affidavit testifying that no criminal record exists.
  • A certified certificate from a Guatemalan sponsor
  • A copy of the decision concerning the granting of temporary residence
  • A valid temporary resident visa (ibid. n.d.a).

The website also states that [translation] "receipt of the documents does not imply that the visa application will be accepted; it will depend on the verification of the authenticity of the documents" (ibid.). The fee for this procedure is US$500 and it takes at least three months (ibid. 7 Sept. 2012).

3.2 Temporary Residence

The Immigration Branch's website lists the documents needed and the requirements for obtaining temporary residence, namely:

  • A recent photograph
  • An original passport and a certified photocopy
  • A certificate indicating the validity of the passport issued by the accredited diplomatic representation in Guatemala, or a certified birth certificate if the applicant's country of origin has no diplomatic relations with Guatemala
  • Proof that no criminal record exists in the country where the applicant lived during the five years preceding the application. If such a document does not exist in that country, a certificate is required to indicate that the country does not issue such a document, as is an affidavit testifying that no criminal record exists.
  • A certified certificate from a Guatemalan sponsor
  • Evidence of the economic activity that the individual intends to conduct in Guatemala (ibid. n.d.b).

The website also states that [translation] "receipt of the documents does not imply that the visa application will be accepted; it will depend on the verification of the authenticity of the documents" (ibid.).

4. Loss of Permanent Residence

Under Article 44 of the Immigration Law, permanent residents may lose their status for the following reasons:

[translation]

  • Failing to pay their taxes
  • Falsifying documentation presented
  • If a qualified judge so decides
  • Being absent from the country for a period of more than one year without obtaining the necessary authorization (ibid. 1998).

5. Resumption of Permanent Resident Status

The officer-in-charge stated that, in order to resume permanent resident status, applicants must first take steps to obtain temporary residence, and then permanent residence (ibid. 7 Sept. 2012). If an applicant has a Guatemalan wife, husband or children, they may obtain permanent residence directly (ibid.). The officer-in-charge also added that the procedure to obtain temporary residence, which takes at least three months, may be carried out in Guatemala and costs US$300 (ibid.). However, if the person needs a tourist visa to enter Guatemala, they must obtain it before entering the country (ibid.).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

Guatemala. 7 September 2012. Dirección General de Migración, Subdirección de Operaciones y Extranjería . Telephone interview with an official.

_____. 1998. Ley de Migración, Decreto Número 95-98 . <http://www.migracion.gob.gt/images/documentos/leydemigracion.pdf> [Accessed 4 Sept. 2012]

_____. N.d.a. Dirección General de Migración. "Residentes permanentes." <http://www.migracion.gob.gt/index.php/servicios/extranjeros/residentes-permanentes.html> [Accessed 4 Sept. 2012]

_____. N.d.b. Dirección General de Migración. "Residentes temporales." <http://www.migracion.gob.gt/index.php/servicios/extranjeros/residentes-temporales.html> [Accessed 4 Sept. 2012]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: Officials at the Embassy of Guatemala in Ottawa, the Embassy of Guatemala in Mexico and at Asesores Jurídicos & Financieros were unable to provide information within the time constraints of this Response.

Internet sites, including: Guatemala – Consejo Nacional de Atención al Migrante, Ministerio de Trabajo y Previsión Social ; International Organization for Migration (IOM).