Due to its high emigration rate, Belize encourages immigration. In 2000, the net migration rate was -2.3 migrants per 1,000 population. Worker remittances in 2000 amounted to US $22 million. The population of Belize increased significantly in 1993, with 40,000 Central American refugees and other immigrants, mostly from Guatemala and El Salvador. This offset the heavy Creole emigration to North America. As of 1995, Belize still had 6,000 refugees from El Salvador and 2,000 refugees from Guatemala. UNHCR negotiations with the government produced two significant developments in 1999. First, as of February 1999 refugees are able to apply for naturalization after five years of residence in the country. Second, in May 1999 the government enacted an amnesty program, offering permanent resident status for illegal immigrants and unregistered refugees. By 30 June 1999, some 10,000 families had registered. The total number of migrants in Belize in 2000 was 17,000.