What the next weeks will look like for foreigners and expats in Costa Rica

Last Thursday The Voice of Guanacaste interviewed Ines Brenes Akerman, Lead Immigration Attorney at Outlier Legal Services, to talk about the different measures –implemented during the COVID-19 emergency– that affect foreigners and expats living in Costa Rica, and clear any doubts our readers had about the topic.

During the conversation, streamed live via Facebook, we talked about how this crisis has changed various immigration processes, including the period extensions Costa Rica has granted to tourists who stayed longer because of the situation in their countries, and how to start a residency process during the pandemic. 

One of the most salient measures Costa Rica has announced for the foreign community is that if they leave the country, they won’t be able to enter again. On March 23, they stated the following:

“As of tomorrow, all foreigners residing or with regular status in the country that leave the national territory, automatically lose their immigration status”. 

Brenes says this was poorly phrased. The reality is that you won’t lose your immigration status if you leave the country, but you won’t be able to come back until the borders open again. However, if you try to enter the country illegally, you do lose your status forever. 

The lawyer also remarked that foreigners who entered the country between December 17, 2019, and March 17, 2020, may remain legally until July 17, 2020. They will be able to move around with their foreign driver’s license until that date, too. She advised that all foreigners should keep the migration order handy, in case a police officer stops you. You can find the document here.

To know more about this and other legal immigration measures, watch the full interview here: