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Working in Costa Rica

I get several emails a week from people wanting to come to Costa Rica to live and work.  Under Rentista or Pensionada status (which is what most people qualify for under immigration status) you can NOT work.  The only way you can work is if you come in as an employee of a company that sponsors you or as a permanent resident.

Now coming in as an employee of a company applies only to those positions that can not be filled by a Costa Rican.  Many of the larger corporations, Intel, Proctor and Gamble, Hewlett Packard have Expats living here working under a work visa.  You can not enter the country then find a job at one of these places and expect that they will hire you.  They will not because you can not work legally in Costa Rica.

This may sound confusing and it really is so I will try to explain… If you are the general manager of Intel you can get a work permit because Intel can not find a Costa Rican that they feel is qualified to do this job.  Therefore immigration will grant the general manager and his/her family a work permit.

If you want to work for Intel as say an engineer, you can not get a work permit as there are literally thousands of engineers in Costa Rica that can fill this position.

If you are a permanent resident (married to a Costa Rican for example) you can get permanent residency and the legal right to work.  If you stay in the country for 3 years under Rentista or Pensionada status you can apply for permanent residency and you can legally work.  This was according to the old law (prior to August 12, 2006) and I’m not sure if that has changed but I don’t believe it did.  I will check into to that and let you know if it changed.

Now if you’re completely confused my apologies as I tried to explain this as best I could.

Bottom line is in the majority of cases you can NOT move to Costa Rica and work legally.

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New Immigration Laws

The new immigration law went into effect August 12, 2006 but no one seems to know how it is going to affect those filing for Rentista status and other items that are supposed to change with the new law.  Even the attorneys are stumped and don’t have the answers at this time.

The law was passed raising the amount you need for a family of 4 from $60k to $180k but we don’t know if this is going to be enforced.  There was an article presented by the government recently that stated the law would not go into effect until December 2007 but yet it passed on August 12 as originally planned. There is a lot of conflicting information floating around out there right now.  They are even talking (the government) about recending the law as though it never happened.

There are no funds available to enforce the new laws and that is the main reason for all the problems with the new law.  We don’t have the law enforcement, nor the funds to police as required by the new law.  This has put the Costa Rican government between a rock and a hard place on what needs to be done at this juncture.

Bottom line…we don’t know how this new law is going to affect us but as we learn more, we will pass the information onto you.

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Investor status

To file for residency under investor status in the tourism industry an investment of $50,000 is required.  The hitch to this is that any other family members that you think would be covered under this type of investment is not.  This would only give the primary investor residency and spouses and dependant children would not have residency under investor status.

Many people file under Rentista status even though they are coming here to start a business in the tourism industry so that the whole family can be taken in under the visa status. Our attorneys have assured us Rentista is the best way to go for a family.

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More on immigration in Costa Rica

Retired Residents or Pensianado’s is the right immigration status for someone that has a permanent pension.  This only requires $600 per month income from a permanent pension source or retirement fund.  You can combine pensions for one person.