St Maarten is a place like no other – the 34-square-mile Caribbean island stands as the smallest land mass to be shared by two countries, those countries being France and the Netherlands. About 20 square miles of the island, known as Saint-Martin, are under the sovereignty of France, while the rest, called Sint Maarten, is ruled by the Netherlands. Fewer than 80,000 people live on the whole island, and immigrating there is no simple task.
Because France and the Netherlands are both members of the European Union, EU citizens don't have to worry about obtaining visas or residency permits to move to St Maarten. Everyone else, however, must follow the requirements for immigrating to either side of the island, meaning aspiring residents are subject to French and Dutch immigration laws, respectively.
Sint Maarten Required Documents
In order to move to the Dutch side of the island long-term, you must first obtain a residence permit through Sint Maarten's Immigration and Border Protection Service. There are several ways to do this, but all of them require applicants to have the following original or notarized documents on-hand and up to date:
- Birth certificate
- Marriage or divorce certificate
- Adoption records, if applicable
- Police record
Residence permit applicants have to provide additional supporting documents, as well, but the required documents vary depending on the type of residence permit.
Types of Sint Maarten Residence Permits
Aspiring Sint Maarten residents can obtain permits through a variety of methods, depending on their reason for moving to the island and the length of time they plan on staying there. The most common reason for immigration is employment, though other reasons include:
- Family reunification
- Netherlands and United States friendship treaty
- Higher education
Those immigrating to Sint Maarten for employment must first request an employment permit through the Department of Labor, with the support of a prospective employer. If you're considering establishing a sole proprietorship on the island, you must commit to living there for longer than 10 years in order to obtain the proper residence permit. Special permits are also available to interns, company directors, investors and retiring pensioners.
Another common reason to move to Sint Maarten is to reunite with family. The requirements for residence based on family reunification differ depending on whether or not you or your spouse are a Dutch citizen. Both applications require a Model I form, passport, birth certificate, police record, statement of guarantee, original marriage certificate and school registration letter for the children, plus a copy of the residency permit for the spouse or parent currently living on Sint Maarten. If that person is a non-Dutch citizen, they must also provide a job letter stating their dates of employment and monthly gross income, plus tax documents confirming a minimum income of $13,500.
Sint Maarten Immigration Requirements
No matter what type of residency permit you're after, keep the following in mind:
Applicants should make a minimum of $1,120 per month to apply – this amount applies to the family as a whole. If you've applied to become a resident of Sint Maarten, you must reside outside of the island while the application is being processed. In order to become a legal resident of the island, make sure you reside and work on the same side – you can't reside on the French side but work on the Dutch side, for example.
St-Martin Visa Requirements
If you're looking to immigrate to the French side of the island, you'll have to follow a different set of requirements. Anyone who wants to stay on St-Martin for longer than 90 days must obtain a long-term French visa and residency permit. These long-term visas are available to people who:
- Have at least a year-long employment contract on St-Martin
- Are there for scientific research
- Are there to study or for an internship
- Are married to a French citizen
- Wish to be reunited with a spouse who is a foreign national currently living on St-Martin
- Want to visit St-Martin for tourism and have accommodation, travel insurance and sufficient funds to support their stay
Depending on your reason for residency, you'll need either a holiday visa, an employment visa, a student visa or a family life visa. Apply for the appropriate visa through your nearest French embassy or consulate using the long-stay visa application form. Aspiring residents must lock down one of these long-term visas before they can obtain a residency permit.
St-Martin Residency Permits
Those staying on St-Martin with long-term visas must apply for a residence permit within two months of their visa's expiration date in order to continue staying on St-Martin past the visa's end date. The duration of the residency permit will vary depending on the applicant's situation – in most cases, residence permits are renewable each year, but three-year permits are also available for for those with special skills and talents, as are 10-year permanent residency permits.
Applicants for a renewable one-year visa will have to present details on their reason for residency. For those joining a family member on St-Martin, you'll have to provide evidence of your spouse's nationality and your marital status. Those moving for employment will have to present an employment contract at the time of application. Most applicants will have to show details regarding their financial situation, health insurance and proof of address on St-Martin, as well.
Most non-EU citizens who want to become permanent residents on St-Martin must first live there for five continuous years. Exceptions apply for those holding degrees from French universities or who are married to French nationals. Permanent residence visas are distributed depending on the following factors:
- Reason for continued stay on St-Martin
- Employment status
- Financial situation
- Integration into local society
- French language skills
Permanent residents who leave French territory for two consecutive years lose the right to their permanent residence permit.