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Costa Rica Immigration Laws

Posted by admin on November 19, 2013
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Immigration entry stamp on the inside page of a passport (XL)If you’re thinking about moving to Costa Rica permanently or even staying there for an extended amount of time, then you need to be familiar with the Costa Rica immigration laws, which have gone through several changes in the recent past. If you are currently a resident of the United States, then you will be required to establish residency in Costa Rica if you plan to live there for more than ninety days; the same rule applies to those from many other countries as well. The good news is that establishing residency in Costa Rica tends to be fairly easy as long as you have a viable and provable source of regular income.

Pensionado Status
Many people who choose to establish residency in Costa Rica are recent retirees looking for a warm, sunny place to spend their golden years. You also have some residents who are independently wealthy or who have some solid source of income that allows them to live in Costa Rica without working. These people will often seek out and qualify for pensionado status in Costa Rica. Pensionados are those people who are able to live in Costa Rica and to support themselves via a reliable source of income, such as retirement benefits, social security fund, lifetime annuities, or military pensions.

Rentista Status
If your source of income makes you ineligible for pensionado status, then you may qualify for rentista status. Like pensionados, rentistas can live in Costa Rica and support themselves by working; unlike pensionados, however, they are not planning to live off retirement benefits or any of the other type of income mentioned above. Instead, they have some other type of guaranteed and provable income coming in on a regular basis, or they have made a deposit of at least $60,000 in a Costa Rican bank. People who choose to make a deposit of this size in a Costa Rican bank can be granted residency for two years and, during that time, they will receive their deposit back in the form of monthly payments that will allow them to live comfortably in Costa Rica. Rentista status is renewable with another deposit in the same amount or with continued proof of acceptable income.

Other Residency Options
There are a handful of other options for establishing residency in Costa Rica under Costa Rica immigration laws, but the two options discussed above are definitely the most common. They are also the simplest, so, whenever possible, you should opt for one of these two choices. If you are ineligible for both pensionado and rentista status, you can look into other options, such as representante status and investor status.

Working in Costa Rica
You may, like so many other people who dream of moving to Costa Rica, find that you are not in a position to support yourself without working while living in Costa Rica. This doesn’t mean, however, that you have to give up on your dream of calling Costa Rica home. No, instead, it simply means that you will need to apply for a residency option that will allow you to work while you are in Costa Rica. The only two choices you have for working, however, are to be a Costa Rica citizen, which simply isn’t possible for most people, or to obtain permanent residency status, which is much more doable. There are, however, several restrictions about who can actually work in Costa Rica, whether the person is a permanent resident or not. In order for you to work, your employer must be able to prove to the Costa Rican government that your job cannot reasonably be performed by any Costa Rican citizen; this rule exists because Costa Rica wants to make sure there are enough jobs for its citizens. Those who are able to work will typically be given a work permit for one year. It is also important to note, however, that those with most other residency statuses are eligible to own businesses or companies in Costa Rica and to receive income from their endeavors, though they themselves are typically not allowed to work for the business or company.

Changes to Costa Rica Immigration Laws
As mentioned earlier, there have recently been several changes to Costa Rica immigration laws. One of those changes, for example, requires all foreigners to sign up for the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social, a socialized medical plan that takes care of the costs of medical expenses for foreigners. With so many changes like these having gone into effect in Costa Rica, it is important to research the Costa Rica immigration laws as they now stand and to use what you learn to make an informed decision about whether or not living in Costa Rica is doable for you.