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Can I obtain residency in Costa Rica?

New residency requirements went into effect March 1, 2010. Residency in Costa Rica is available in different formats, depending on the applicant’s possibilities and requirements. The Costa Rican legislation defines two general types of residency: permanent and temporary; the first category means that you can both reside and work in Costa Rica, since it is usually granted without limitations. Temporary residency may be given to individuals for a specific purpose, such as executives, representatives, managers and technical personnel of established corporations in the country, members of a religious order, or educational institutions. It may also be granted to individuals with certain specialized knowledge, students enrolled in specific educational institutions, artists, investors, and retirees and to other individuals who qualify, at the discretion of the Department of Immigration. When you are applying to become a legal resident of Costa Rica under the Pensionado (pensioner), Rentista (small investor) or Inversionista (large investor) programs (all temporary residency categories), and as a result of the changes made by the Asamblea Nacional, effective August March 1, 2010, you can now file abroad, in your country of origin, or directly at Migración y Extranjería in San José, Costa Rica. However, all adults need to be fingerprinted by the immigration authorities in Costa Rica, therefore you will need at least one or two days in Costa Rica in order to meet this requirement before Immigration’s review of your application. It is important to note that without proof of fingerprinting, your application will be automatically denied. All documents need to be translated in Spanish by certified translator........

 

  • Pensionado: This category is used by most retired people; you must document that you will be receiving at least $12,000 per year. One pension allows both husband and wife to apply for residency.Once approved, you must live in Costa Rica for at least 6 months per year. The days lived in Costa Rica do not have to be consecutive. You can apply for permanent residency after being a temporary resident for four years.
  • Rentista: This category is for those who have not yet reached retirement age but have managed to make investments that bring in a regular income. You’ll need to prove a monthly income of $2,500 (usually a CD or annuity), guaranteed by a banking institution. This amount applies to all applicants, married or single.  You also must agree to live in Costa Rica for at least 6 months per year. The days lived in Costa Rica do not have to be consecutive.   After two years of rentista status you can apply for permanent residency. 
  • Inversionista: The registered investment amount will require $200,000 or more in a business. The investment of a lesser amount for tourism projects no longer applies. The investment can be made in any type of business, or under current Migración guidelines, and in real estate only if it is it is deemed a benefit for Costa Rica (employing Costa Ricans, for example). In this case it must be based on the real value, and proof of the benefits must be given in order to be declared as such. There is no requirement for currency exchange with this type of residency. Once approved, you must agree to live in Costa Rica for at least 183 days (6 months) per year. The days lived in Costa Rica do not have to be consecutive. You can apply for permanent residency after being a temporary resident for two years.

 

Mandatory Membership in “La Caja”

  The new law makes it mandatory for applicants to become members in Costa Rica’s medical system, La Caja Costarricense del Seguro Social, known commonly as “La Caja.” The applicant must show proof of membership in La Caja at the time the residency identification card is issued.

 

Applications for Vínculo Status by Spouses of a Costa Rican citizen

 The application of the spouse of a Costa Rican citizen, filed under the Vínculo Program, will no longer be granted as a permanent resident if the marriage took place less than 2 years from the application date. Under the new law, spouses are granted temporary residencies for the first three years. At the end of the third year the spouse can apply for permanent residency. No income requirements are necessary.