On march 1st, on Immigrations website a new administrative resolution was published Indicating literally the following:
“The General Direction of Immigration authorizes through an administrative resolution an extension for a last time to the legal permanence of all foreigners that have entered the national territory after December 17th, 2019 and that keep a valid insurance until June 2nd 2021, being this date the maximum term to stay in the national territory; this extension has been authorized through a request made by the Costarrican Tourism Institute (ICT) and has the approval of the Ministry of Health, as long as foreigners comply with the insurance during the period of their stay.
To be able to stay until such date, the tourists need to have an insurance that covers at least lodging and expenses in case of contracting COVID-19 and its an obligation to send the proof of the insurance policy to firstname.lastname@example.org.CR, so that that ICT can proceed to validate the insurance. The insurance can be any of the ones offered by the insurance companies that are authorized and duly registered before the General Insurance Superintendent or a travel insurance with international coverage”
From the previous resolution, we want to highlight and summarize some important points to avoid any confusions:
- The resolution is firm, is official and its already being enforced. We want to clarify this as we have been reading in other articles or news that “its pending to be published, that it has not been made via decree and/or that its waiting to be official” and as of March 1st the resolution is official, firm and in application.
- The resolution does not make any differences or exceptions between tourists and therefore it should not be analyzed in a restrictive way. According to what the resolution literally says, the extension applies to ALL foreigners that have entered the country after December 17th, 2019.
- The tourist visa will be automatically extended until June 2nd, as long as the tourist has the insurance that will cover during his/her stay.
- An email to the above address should be sent with the proof of the insurance for the extension to apply.
Despite the resolution is clear enough, there is still a lot of confusion into if this extension applies only for the tourists that have entered the country after December 17th 2019 and until November 30th, 2020. Many non official sources have even been affirming that it does not apply for tourists that have entered the country after November 30th 2020 and that those tourists should go to the normal process of requesting a tourist visa extension.
However, one of our main jobs as attorneys is doing a correct interpretation of the laws, rulings, resolutions, etc. and therefore we cannot interpret a resolution in a restrictive way, when the resolution its not restrictive itself. Therefore we cannot affirm based on the resolution that the extension applies only to those who entered between December 17th 2019 and November 30th 2021; and we definitely don’t believe that Immigration would be entitled to start a deportation process to a tourist that entered the country after November 30th 2019 and that stays until June 2nd 2020.
As we are always working on providing you with the latest updated information we are coordinating an appointment with the Chief of the Legal Department at Immigration to clarify these points and we will be back with news clarifying this matter, BUT for the moment, our criteria is that it applies to ANY tourist that entered after December 17th 2019.
FOREIGNER’S DRIVERS LICENSE VALIDITY
MOPT is the Institution in charge of determining if the foreigners drivers license validity will be extended until June 2nd, 2021, however they have not pronounced regarding this matter. This means that even if you can legally stay in the country until June 2nd 2021, is still unknown if you will be able to legally drive during this period.
- If I have an appointment set to start a residency application do I need to buy the insurance until June 2nd 2021? No, you are not forced to. From the moment you obtain an appointment to start your residency application you are not a ‘regular’ tourist, you are in process of starting your residency application soon and therefore you can stay in the country without the insurance.
- What happens during the period that my tourist visa is expired until my appointment date to start my residency application, am I legal to stay in the country? You are allowed to legally stay in the country ONCE your residency process has been submitted before Immigration and you have a file number. However, its said that because of the exceptional circumstances that we are going through, the fact of just having the appointment will allow you to stay without a problem, however this is not written in any law so we couldn’t say you are 100% legal or 100% illegal, you would be in what we call a ‘grey zone’
- What happens with my drivers license and how can I obtain a C.R. Drivers license ? Your foreigner drivers license is valid for the period that your tourist visa is valid for. We will have to wait to see if MOPT extends the validity of the drivers license to those tourists that have extended their insurance until June 2nd 2021. You can obtain a C.R. Driver’s license once you are a resident.
- Is it true that I can make an appointment in Immigration to start my residency application just be able to stay longer in C.R. And buy some time here? Many lawyers, sources and people without knowledge have been wrongfully recommending to make appointments to start a residency application at Immigration even if the intention is not to start the residency application, just so that they can prolong their stay in C.R. Some are even charging US$25-US$50 to “help” make the appointment and are guaranteeing people that with this appointment they can stay in C.R and decide later on if they want to actually submit a residency application.
Please people DON’T DO THIS! We DON’T recommend it as this is hindering our public system.
We as immigration attorneys really care that Immigration has the capacity to function in a diligent way so that our client’s cases get resolved faster and so that out potential clients really seeking to start their residency application can start it soon.
However, this behavior and bad advise is collapsing the system, and very soon a foreign will have to wait MONTHS to be able to start their residency process.
We can assure and tell you that just two weeks ago there were appointments available in March and April and now, just two weeks later, appointments are available until end July-start of August. What does this tell you?
SO…please if you don’t qualify for residency yet, seek the legal route to have a valid tourist visa and let this space for others that are truly wanting residency.
Finally, as we always try to do our best, in benefit of our clients and immigrations laws, we are in conversations with Immigration Direction letting them know about this “appointment situation” so that they can apply sanctions to those making appointments in vane without having the intention to even appear to the appointment Or actually start a residency file.
It’s a pleasure to update you with the #latestimmigrationnews and remember if you are interesting in applying for residency or want to know more about it, go ahead and download our residency guide: www.lawxpertscr.com/residency-in-costa-rica Or feel free to send us an email at email@example.com
Written by: Lic. Nicole Quesada G.