Immigration laws HAVE changed

It was reported earlier that the new immigration laws were to be shelved until December 2007 because of the lack of funding, that is no longer the case. Even though the funds aren’t there to enforce the new laws, the new laws DID go into effect on August 12. How this affects you…..amounts necessary to file for rentista status has doubled and then some.

To file for residency under Rentista status, one will need $60k per adult and $30k per dependant. This would make a family of 4 need $180k put into a bank account in Costa Rica to be kept in a secured account for a period of 5 years insuring that you have at least $3000 per month to live on. This is cash necessary up front, can not be made in payments.
This law was to be put on hold until December 2007 but because of the bureaucracy in Costa Rica it has gone into effect until further notice. Many are still in hope that this will be changed but as of this time it has not and it’s not looking very promising that it will change soon.

Government does not have the funds to enforce all of the new immigration laws but this portion of it is being held true.

If you would like more specifics, email us at


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.


New Immigration Laws

Effective date put off more than a year
Immigration law to be shelved for more study
By Saray Ramírez Vindas
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The new immigration law looks like a dead letter.

Fernando Berrocal, the security minister, said Wednesday that the executive branch would move to delay the effective date of the law until sometime in December 2007.

In the meantime, he said, Óscar Arias Sánchez, the president, would set up by decree a commission to study the human rights aspects of the law. Also to be studied would be the productive sectors of the country and the church. The commission would propose changes in the law as necessary, he said.

Arias has aired reservations about the law.

The net effect of the delay would be to cancel making human trafficking a criminal offense. A clause to punish so-called coyotes was in the new legislation.

Also delayed would be plans to penalize those who hire illegal workers. Berrocal estimated that perhaps 20 percent of the population of Costa Rica was illegal. Past administrations have said about 50,000 persons were here illegally. If Berrocal is correct, the number of illegals could be over 800,000. Most of these are Nicaraguans.

The delay also pre-empts plans to fine persons who harbor or even rent rooms to illegal immigrants. The Catholic Church runs shelters for aliens, and church leaders said they were worried that the weight of the new law would fall on them.

For expats, the delay means business as usual in applying for residency categories, primarily pensionado, rentista or inversionista. The new law sought to raise the financial capabilities required of those who want to move here.

Rentistas now have to show a monthly income of $1,000 for at least five years for a total of $60,000. The new law would have retained this amount for a single applicant but would have required $1,000 a month more (or $60,000 more over the life of the permission) for a spouse and lesser amounts for minor children.

The new director of Migración, Mario Zamora, said last week that the law might be delayed. But Berrocal spoke with the authority of the president and the president’s cabinet shortly after their Tuesday meeting.

Although many business people had expressed concern about the penalties in the new law, Berrocal blamed a lack of money. He said that a new detention center would have to be built, new vehicles purchased and 671 new budget lines created in the Dirección General de Migración.

Some of those who were to be hired were to beef up a more professional Policía de Migración, which now does not have the same authority as regular policemen.

Berrocal said the estimate to enforce the new law was 7 billion colons, nearly $14 million, an amount that did not exist. The Arias administration and Berrocal have made securing the nation’s borders a priority. A special frontier police force will be created.

Presumably some of this will find its way into the new draft of the immigration law.


More on immigration in Costa Rica

Investor Resident or Inversionista status requires an investment of $50,000 US in one of the approved sectors such as tourism or export.  Different types of business can require up to $200,000 investment, you will need to speak with an attorney to see which sector your business would be in.


Immigration in Costa Rica

I get asked about this more often than anything else so felt it necessary to clear up a couple of things…There are several types of visas that you can apply for but the 3 most common are Pensinado, Rentista and Investor status. There are new laws coming into effect August 12, 2006 that will changing the amount necessary to file for Rentista status.  Before August, you needed $60,000 (for the entire family) put into a bank in Costa Rica or a bank of your own with a special letter from your bank….not easy to get.  This is to prove that you have $1000 per month income over a 5 year period of time.  You have to change these dollars into colones each month.

The big changes as I understand them are as follows.  Now the amount required is $60,000 per adult and $30,000 per dependant child.  This can mean that a family of 4 will need to show $180,000 in a bank somewhere being held as security with the ability to withdraw $3,000 per month.  That is $1,000 per adult and $500 per child.  If your filing for residency rentista status in particular, it’s best to do it as soon as possible and before July 1, 2006 if at all possible.

There are other laws changing as well.  One thing that hasn’t been decided yet is whether or not you will have to file your documents in the country that you live in with the Costa Rica Consulate.  At present, you can file in your home country or in Costa Rica.  This is still undecided and we won’t know until the law actually goes into effect in August.