Costa Rica Residency Update March 17, 2020 – Coronavirus Issue

by Herb DeMars
Thank you to Outlier Legal Services for this update.  We will do our best to keep our blog updated with latest on the coronavirus issue here in Costa Rica.  
The Immigration Department issued this evening, Monday, March 16, 2020, Resolution N° DJUR-043-03-2019-JM, which, in summary, states:
  • The Immigration Department WILL NOT receive Residency applications going forward and until May 17, 2020. This includes all categories. Basically, Residency applications are suspended until May 17, 2020.
  • Consequently, documents which will expire within this period will be deemed valid (meaning their validity will be automatically extended) until July 17, 2020.
  • Exigencies will not be raised by the Department until July 17, 2020.
  • The Immigration Department will continue analyzing applications during this time. Hopefully it will give them time to catch up on delayed work.
  • Approvals and rejections will continue to be issued and notified solely via fax or email only.
  • The exclusive attorney window used by many professionals to follow up on applications will remain closed until May 17, 2020.
  • DIMEX requests: Will work solely through Banco de Costa Rica and Correos de Costa Rica by APPOINTMENT ONLY. Residencies based on marriage to a Costa Rican national can and will only be renewed at Immigration. Therefore, these will be suspended and may be processed between May 17 and July 17, 2020. If any of the other categories cannot be renewed through Banco de Costa Rica or Correos de Costa Rica, applicants will have until July 17, 2020, to process their renewals.
  • Entry visas for Restricted Nationalities are suspended until May 17, 2020.
  • Tourists (non-Residents) who entered the country after December 17, 2019, may legally remain in Costa Rica until May 17, 2020.
  • Minor’s exit permit requests and issuance of Costa Rican passports will continue to work, as normal.

No word on three major questions:

  1. What will happen to people who entered the country prior to December 17, 2019, who, as of now, do not have legal status in Costa Rica. It is to be expected that if they depart between now and April 21, 2020, nothing will occur. From April 21, 2020, onwards, they will be subjected to fines and penalties, as discussed here.
  2.  What will happen to foreign nationals who have received the approval of their Residency but are yet to secure a DIMEX cards? Are they free to enter the country as part of the Resident population? It is to be expected that people with approved Residencies should be allowed back into Costa Rica, however, Immigration Officers at the ports of entry may not be familiar with Residency approval resolutions and delays are to be expected when entering the country.
  3. Transportation Authorities (MOPT and COSEVI) are yet to confirm if they will recognize the “legal status” of those tourists who will be deemed legal until May 17, 2020. As many Expats know, you should be allowed to drive in the country using a foreign driver’s license as long as your entry stamp is valid. Therefore, at this time it is unknown if the legal status Immigration is granting to tourists until May 17 will also be recognized by Transportation Authorities.
Applicants can continue to procure and apostille/legalize their documents in the mean time. Whilst other countries may issue their own measures and delays could be suffered, it could be a good time to gather documents. If you are in Costa Rica, Outlier Legal Services may assist with the procurement and apostille/legalization of certain documents from Costa Rica, so as to be ready by May 17, 2020 with most requirements, when and if possible.
This is a developing matter, and we will share more information as it becomes available on our blog. It is impossible to measure the impact this will have on processing times when it comes to the approval of Residencies, however, we will continue to do what is legally possible to help the Expat community whilst supporting the efforts displayed by our Government, so far, to control this crisis.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us with questions or concerns.
Kind regards,
Outlier Legal Client Services
(506) 2100-6593

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