Many foreigners are interested in moving to a small but attractive country like Costa Rica. This is not a very difficult process, however, it also has its own nuances that need to be taken into account. So, in this article we will look at the main ways to legally stay in Costa Rica.
First of all, a tourist visa belongs to the legal stay in Costa Rica. For many countries, including Ukraine, a visa is not required to travel to Costa Rica. To do this, you must have a foreign passport, the validity of which will be valid for the duration of the trip and after that it is still valid for at least six months.
However, citizens of the countries in which it is necessary to apply for a tourist visa should take into account that a tourist entering on this visa must have a return ticket to the country from which he arrived or a ticket to a third country (with a date within the next 30 days). You will need to have documents with you (travel voucher, invitation, paid hotel room or apartment rental) that can confirm your place of residence in Costa Rica. Including supporting documents of their solvency, that is, bank statements, paid travel vouchers or financial documents of third parties who pay for the trip. On some blogs you can find information that to renew a tourist visa, it is enough to leave Costa Rica for 72 hours and after that you can stay in the country again for another 90 days. It is better not to practice such a “renewal”, since there is no official law interpreting such an action. As a result, such an experience may end with deportation from Costa Rica without the right to enter for 12 years, or at best, when you visit the country again, you will be denied entry. You also need to pay attention to the external state of your passport, since there were cases when foreigners were denied entry to the country at passport control due to the dilapidated state of the document or significant abrasions of the internal pages.
One of the ways to legally stay in Costa Rica is the Pensionado Retirement Program. It has been operating in Costa Rica for more than 40 years and entitles foreign retirees to temporary residence in Costa Rica. An applicant who wishes to use this visa must have a fixed life pension, social security or military pension. The program has no age restrictions, the main requirement is a guaranteed material allowance. This visa must be renewed annually, as the state wants to verify the applicant’s ability to pay. Also, persons who have received a Pensionado visa must register with the State Medical Assurance Program (CAJA). A mandatory requirement for participants in this program to reside in Costa Rica for at least four months a year. Pensionado visa is issued for a period of two years.
Investment visa “Rentista”
“Rentista” visa entitles foreign citizens to temporary residence in the country. This visa may be suitable for foreigners doing small business. To be able to use this visa, the state puts forward a requirement for the applicant to prove a stable monthly income in a certain amount. To do this, a foreigner must open a deposit in one of the banks in Costa Rica. The visa is valid for two years, after which the user of the “Rentista” visa must renew it and make a new deposit in the bank for another two years. Just like Pensionado users, foreigners using Rentista visas must register with the Department of Social Security in Health (CAJA). Users of this visa are not personally entitled to work themselves, but they can have a company and receive income from their business.
In addition, after three years of temporary residence in Costa Rica, foreigners using visas “Pensionado” and “Rentista” can apply for permanent residence in the country. At the end of the visa period, you will have to update the permits with the provision of documents. Holders of these visas can obtain an official work permit only after obtaining permanent residence status. If foreign retirees or Rentista visa users conduct their business and receive income outside Costa Rica, but abroad, then they are not taxed.
The investor visa is intended for large investors who have special increased requirements for the size of deposits. The amount of such a deposit can be invested in a business or invested in those sectors of the economy that are approved by the government. To maintain this “investor” visa, a foreigner must stay in the country for at least six months a year. For family members, it is necessary to apply for visas separately, since even close dependents (wife, children, parents) cannot be declared an investor in order to use one visa for all. Thus, family members of the investor can apply for any other visas that are described above. The investor visa user will be eligible for permanent residence after three years of temporary residence in Costa Rica.
Permanent Resident Visa
This visa is issued to foreigners who have temporarily resided in Costa Rica for three years on the basis of the visas described above. To maintain a permanent residence visa, a foreigner must stay in the country for at least 72 hours a year. In the case of such a minimum stay in Costa Rica, the Inversionista Visa user needs to seriously worry about proof of stay in the country. Many foreigners underestimate the severity of this point and may lose the opportunity to continue using this visa, since the state thoroughly checks the fact of permanent residence. The Inversionista Visa granting process can take up to a year. During this period, the state migration authorities will painstakingly check the proper fulfillment of the requirements of previous visas issued to applicants for permanent residence.
Costa Rican citizenship
Citizenship to foreign citizens can be granted after seven years of residence in Costa Rica (as a legal resident). In the case of marriage to a citizen (s) of Costa Rica, citizenship can be granted after two years, in which case the applicant for citizenship must renounce the previous citizenship of his country. However, this is considered a technical rule that is not respected and does not matter much. After five years, Costa Rica can grant citizenship to those citizens who are citizens of Spain or some Latin American countries. The process of obtaining visas for temporary residence is not entirely simple, and it is unlikely that you will be able to cope with this process yourself. Therefore, according to many experts, it is better to hire a lawyer specializing specifically in immigration issues.