,,Imagine owning a second, vacation home in Curaçao”, said the eye-catching advertisement in Hato Airport. Imagine our sense of irony as we waited at the departure gate for our flight to Miami on 31 March. This was the 90th day of 2011, the date by which we were told emphatically by the Office of Immigration that we must leave Curaçao. We were further instructed not to return until 2012 because we had reached the (new) limit of 90 days annually on the island for non-residents of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. This limitation reflects a new policy nowhere described in the law.
We have owned our home more than five years and never (until last March) had any immigration problems, coming and going multiple times each calendar year. At least three years involved a stay of more than 90 days in duration and were given visa extensions by Immigration. Prior to purchasing our home, our realtor had assured us that there were never any problems for people in our situation. Just imagine the new owner of that vacation home now discovering this restriction.
Since leaving Curacao, we have communicated with many friends in Curaçao and the US. Uniformly, the reaction is one of disbelief and astonishment. Everyone immediately asks why Curaçao would turn away people who contribute to the economy of the country. They also immediately ask who would now be foolish enough to buy a home knowing that they would be restricted to using it for only 90 days a year. Even prospective short-term tourists will question whether or not they are welcome. This will be such a shame because the people of Curaçao are so welcoming, friendly, and helpful.
We wrote an open letter about the new policy just before departing Curaçao. To date, the Office of Immigration has not responded to our counsel’s requests for documentation on the new policy. We hope that this letter will inform and stimulate discussion of this issue by those concerned, including other foreign property-owners and prospective ones, property development companies, local organizations and clubs representing business concerns, government economic development agencies as well as those who make immigration policy. Curaçao needs to act quickly to make certain that it does not ruin its valuable reputation for ‘Bon Bini’.
Meanwhile, we remain unable to visit Curaçao, use our home there, make plans or invite friends and family to come visit the island with us. We are forced to consider other more welcoming islands as we wonder about the second home we did once ‘imagine’ was possible in Curaçao.

K.A. & E.S. Foland, USA

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