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Costa Rica’s New Immigration Law

December 5th, 2005

Costa Rica’s New Immigration Law will have a profound affect on those wishing to live in paradise.

Costa Rica has a new immigration law that will take affect in about eight months. In Costa Rica, after the legislature passed the law, the immigration people have 9 months to decide how they will enforce the provisions of that law. If properly enforced, it should have a profound affect on those who plan to live, work, or retire in Costa Rica. It may well also make for serious problems for those who plan to live here illegally using the “leave every 90 days and renew the Visa” rules, also known as perpetual tourists. Those already here and working illegally may find their future employment in jeopardy. Some interesting provisions:

Those companies who employ any person who does not have the legal right to work in Costa Rica will be subject to HUGE financial and possibly criminal penalties. To me, this is GREAT as Costa Rica cannot afford to lose jobs to foreigners who move here to work illegally. It will be amusing to see the affect this will have on innumerable English teachers, real estate sales people, workers at the sports books, telemarketers, outsourced customer services reps, and many others who are currently working here illegally. This will also affect those who employ illegal domestic help.

It appears now, though still unclear, that married rentistas will pay twice the current $60,000 deposit. 60K for each person which probably reflects better the current cost of living in Costa Rica. It may also cut down on the number of younger people moving here to work illegally. It appears pensionado residencies will go untouched.

*** Update January, 2006 The portion above requiring $60,000 for each person ($120,000 per married couple) is now law.

Hotels may now be required to refuse rooms to anyone not possessing a valid passport with appropriate visa for being in Costa Rica. Fines to those hotels are huge.

The perpetual visa thing still seems unclear and it will be interesting to see if immigration will finally try to clarify this. The problem is that the tourist laws differ from immigration laws, and that allows people to slip though the cracks.

Not affecting most folks reading this site is criminal penalties for “coyotes”, people assisting other to illegally move through Costa Rica.

I am NOT a residency nor immigration expert, so I suggest you visit the ARCR Forums for current information and also read here about Costa Rican residency in general and here about working in Costa Rica.


One Response to “Costa Rica’s New Immigration Law”

  1. The REAL Costa Rica Blog » Blog Archive » Preparation Catch-up on January 14, 2006 9:36 pm

    […] The last thing I had to do, which I wasn’t expecting, was request a background check on myself to give to immigration. Apparently, they just changed immigration requirements in Costa Rica, so this was a last minute rush thing. […]

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