Immigration draft

Finally, a proposed redraft of the nation’s new immigration laws, that came into effect this past August, will hopefully bring about some changes in the current law.

The monthly income amount required by a foreigner living here on a pension would be reduced to $500 per month instead of the present amount of $600.

Not such good news for Rentista applicants.  At present under the law, you are required to have $1000 per adult and $500 per child per month to live on.  You have to put this money in a bank account to show financial capability for five years. This amount is going up to $2000 per month but you don’t have to show extra for a spouse or children.  So for a family of 4, the money needed to put into a costa rican bank according to the law of August was $180,000.  If this proposed redraft is passed you will only need $120,000.  This is still twice what it was last year before the changes took place when it was only $60,000 per adult or total family.
The proposed law also creates a special fund and assessment for most foreigners living here.  The purpose is to generate some income for the state to pay for medical and educational services used by foreigners.  No figure is set in the proposed law, and the amount is left to the discretion of the director general of Migracion y Extranjeria.   Officials have said that the base amount, around $20 a month, might vary depending on the immigration category, a suggestion that North American residents who are generally pensionados, rentistas and inversionistas would pay more each month than Nicaraguan day laborers.

The proposal also takes a firm stand against those who work here on tourist visas, something which is not clear in the current law.

The proposed law also contains stiff penalties for overstaying a tourist or other visa that could run into the hundreds or thousands of dollars.  Those who overstay visas face a fine equal to double the monthly assessment for their immigration category for each day they have overstayed their visa.  Or they must remain out of the country for triple the time they have overstayed the visa.

Permanent residency is now available to a rentista after only two years when before it was 5 years.

Tourists (those here on a tourist visa) continue to be considered non-residents and do not build time towards residency, under terms of the proposal.

Temporary residents, such as inversionistas, pensionados and rentistas would still be forbidden to work for a salary, but the law spells out clearly that they can do work on their own account.  That has been interpreted as running their own businesses.  They must spend at least six months inm the country each year, according to the proposal.

The proposal also lets foreigners apply for various immigration categories while they are in Costa Rica.  The current law requires that foreigners do so at the Costa Rican consulate in their country, although in the past this has been ignored at times.

There is much more to this proposed new immigration law but these are the highlights.  We will keep you posted as to whether or not the new law is passed and if any important changes are made along the way.

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