SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – Costa Rica’s new immigration law goes into effect March 1. Tourists that travel out of Costa Rica in order to renew their visa every 90 days, have new rules to follow.
Mario Zamora, the director general of Migración y Extranjería, said Thursday that a tourist will not be able to go to the same country twice and that after two trips to renew a visa a tourist will have to stay out of Costa Rica for a minimum of 15 days.
The new Costa Rica law seeks to crack down on perpetual tourists. What Zamora said is not yet the law. Regulations soon will be published in the La Gaceta official newspaper.
Instead of traveling to another country to renew a tourist visa, a foreigner can go to any immigration location and renew another 90 days for $100. Offices have recently been in San Jose, but will soon be available at international airports, border posts, ports, marinas and other locations.
To renew a visa, tourists will have to establish financial responsibility and show that they have the means to support themselves for the next 90 days. For those who cannot, such as students, the $100 will be waived by the Ministerio de Hacienda.
The rule that a tourist cannot renew a visa by traveling to the same country twice is new. This means a perpetual tourist living near the Panama border, will have to choose another country in which to travel before the next 90 days. After 2 visa renewals, tourists will have to leave Costa Rica for a minimum of 15 days.
Tourists are not allowed to work in Costa Rica, but many do illegally. If so, they run the risk of losing their possessions and may be expelled from Costa Rica.
Officials met to discuss the new immigration law last week. The major changes for expats are:
-They need to join the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social and show that they have Caja membership when they renew their passports.
-Tourists who overstay their visa will pay a larger fine when leaving, and will be prohibited from reentering Costa Rica three times the duration that they were illegally in the country.
-More categories have been created for persons who seek to work or stay in Costa Rica.
-Pensionados approved under the new law must show a monthly income from a certified pension of at least $1,000 a month, up from $600. This amount covers foreign spouses and minor children. Rentistas have to show they have a monthly income of at least $2,500, up from $1,000.
-Innkeepers and Costa Rica hotel operators will have to keep a registry of persons staying in their establishment for inspection by immigration police.