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Immigration Department Issues New Resolution

The Immigration Department issued Resolution N° DJUR-01-01-2021-JM, which nullifies or substitutes Resolution N° DJUR-0132-09-2020-JM.Important Considerations Immigration will no longer extend the entry stamps; hence, it is to be expected that Transportation will not extend entry

The Immigration Department issued Resolution N° DJUR-01-01-2021-JM, which nullifies or substitutes Resolution N° DJUR-0132-09-2020-JM.

Important Considerations

  1. Immigration will no longer extend the entry stamps; hence, it is to be expected that Transportation will not extend entry stamps either. This considering that our Immigration Department is now open, processing Residencies and our air borders are open.  If you entered the country between December 18th, 2019 and November 30th, 2020, your entry stamp is automatically extended until March 2nd, 2021. If you entered the country from December 1st, 2020 onwards, your entry stamp will depend on the insurance.

  2. If you wish to drive you will need a valid entry stamp on your passport at all times, along with your foreign drivers’ license

  3. Outlier Legal Services will book and attend all of its clients’ appointments, you do not need to worry about that. We will schedule, file, review, etc. the applications on your behalf.

  4. If you do have an appointment at Immigration, please arrive at least 45 minutes prior as there is generally a line to wash hands, confirm appointments, etc. If you do not enter the premises and attend your appointment on time, you will not be seen.

  5. Currently, the only categories that can be filed through the Tramite YA! platform are:

    • Permanent Residency

    • Temporary Residency based on Marriage

    • Special Categories: Domestic worker, student, researcher, volunteer, teacher, temporary worker, special categories based on the relationship with a Permanent or Temporary Resident, Costa Rican national or tutor.

  6. This Resolution is temporary. The rules mentioned in this Resolution, such as the validity of the documents, are a result of the COVID crisis. We cannot confirm if certain rules will “stick” after things settle down.

  7. This is a brand-new Resolution, and we are in the process of analyzing it to request clarification on various points. Hence, once we have responses, we will publish them.


This new Resolution, in summary, states:

Residency Processing

  1. Immigration will solely accept documents/Residency requests to be filed either in person (if you have an appointment) at the Immigration Department or through the Tramite YA! platform which is currently used to process certain categories such as Permanent Residency. They will not accept documents sent via email or through postal services.

  2. People over the age of 65 or with a disability per Law N° 7600 can visit the Immigration Department without an appointment to file documents between the hours of 7:20 AM and 9:30 AM, Monday through Friday. Everybody else is obliged to request an appointment.

  3. One appointment per person is necessary, even for minor children. Appointments are scheduled through migracion.go.cr or by calling 1311.

  4. The Immigration Department will work by appointment only (exceptions cited above). It is working at a capacity of 20% of its officers (the rest is working from home) and allowing only 25% of visitors to enter the premises. Anyone visiting the Immigration Department is obliged to comply with their protocols that include always wearing a face mask. People who refuse to wear face masks will be removed from the premises.

  5. Considering they are working at a reduced capacity, appointments may be granted months after the person requests it.

  6. Attorneys will continue to have the privilege of the exclusive attorney window where appointments are granted in a matter of days/weeks. The attorney’s presence is mandatory, and they will work by appointment only. Attorneys can file documents, answer exigencies, file Residency applications, review files, etc. at these appointments. Appointments may only be requested by the attorney on Fridays from 7 AM to 2 PM via the channels authorized by the Bar Association.

  7. Regarding the validity of background checks and marriage certificates: the documents will be valid until the date of the appointment. An appointment must be requested while the documents are valid. Documents are valid, under normal circumstances, for six months only. Hence, if you have a document that was issued in February 2021 you need to request an appointment by August 2021 (within the six months). Booking the appointment will suspend the expiration of the document. However, if the appointment is requested when the document is already expired, that document needs to be re-issued. Evidently, if you miss your appointment, the documents will no longer be accepted. Documents issued abroad must be apostilled/legalized for use in Costa Rica.

  8. Regarding the validity of birth certificates: Per this latest Resolution, the birth certificates will be accepted even if older than six months, however, we have requested clarification on this particular matter. In our opinion, the best thing to do would be to secure new birth certificates and, to err on the side of caution, apply the same principle mentioned on point 7 for the marriage and background check certificates. Now, if the name on your passport and birth certificate do not match, people are also required to explain and file the pertinent documentation to explain the disparity. All documents issued abroad must be apostilled/legalized for use in Costa Rica.

  9. All documents will be accepted only if they are in a perfect state, meaning they are not torn, smudged, were written on, or have any alteration that casts doubt on their legitimacy.

  10. Documents that were valid by March 17th, 2020 will now be valid until July 31st, 2021.

  11. Marriage interviews: if you applied for Temporary Residency based on marriage then you need to request the marriage interview appointment through migracion.go.cr or by calling 1311. This does not apply if your application was filed through Tramite Ya! since the platform grants the appointments once the application is filed. Remember that both spouses must attend this appointment carrying at least 30 photos of your time together. The meeting is led by a Social Worker to verify the veracity of the marriage. It is an essential part of the Residency process.

Notifications and Deadlines

  1. Approvals and rejections will continue to be issued and notified solely via fax or email. If you did not include a fax number or an email to receive notifications, you will be obliged to book an appointment through migracion.go.cr or by calling 1311 to check on your file and receive your notifications there. You can check the status of your file online here: https://servicios.migracion.go.cr/serviciosenlinea/expediente.aspx. Be advised that the information included there may be limited/outdated.

  2. Regarding exigencies: within 10 business days of receiving an exigency, an appointment to answer it must be requested. If the person fails to secure an appointment within these 10 business days, the exigency will be deemed unanswered. This means that if you are notified of an exigency on January 12th, 2021, you need to schedule an appointment within these 10 business days. That means that you need to request an appointment by January 26th, 2021. The appointment confirmation will be proof of good faith to answer the exigency. On the day of the appointment, you will be expected to file the necessary documents, response, etc. you were asked to provide. This does not apply to processes uploaded through the Tramite YA! platform.

  3. Exigencies that were valid by March 17th, 2020 must be responded by July 31st, 2021. An appointment must be requested through migracion.go.cr to file the documentation.

  4. If your request is denied/declared inadmissible/rejected/etc. and the resolution states that you have 3 days to appeal, you must book an appointment within these three days. On the date of your appointment, you will be expected to file the appeal. The same principle applies as when responding to exigencies: the days granted will be to book the appointment. If you fail to appear at the appointment, then the appeal will not be accepted. People over the age of 65 or disabled per Law N° 7600 can file appeals in person, without an appointment, Monday through Friday from 7:20 AM until 9:30 AM.

DIMEX Cards and Renewals

  1. Requesting DIMEX cards after Residency approval or for renewals (except Temporary Residency based on Marriage): DIMEX cards shall only be processed through the corresponding branches of Banco de Costa Rica (800 BCRCITA, o through www.bancobcr.com) and Correos de Costa Rica (by calling 1311).

  2. Renewals for people with Temporary Residency based on Marriage: Can be processed directly at Immigration by booking an appointment through migracion.go.cr or by calling 1311 or through the corresponding branches of Banco de Costa Rica (800 BCRCITA, o through www.bancobcr.com) and Correos de Costa Rica (by calling 1311). An appointment is necessary. If the renewal takes place directly at Immigration, both spouses shall be present carrying the renewal documents including their passport and DIMEX card (Resident) and cedula (Costa Rican spouse). If the appointment is completed through Banco de Costa Rica or Correos de Costa Rica, what needs to be presented is an affidavit signed by the spouses before a Notary (declaración jurada protocolizada) stating the couple’s information and that they are still together and living as a couple.

  3. Regarding people who processed their renewal and were notified, via telegram, that the renewal was not accepted: you must schedule an appointment at Immigration through migracion.go.cr.

  • Validity of DIMEX cards: Per Resolution N° DJUR-0132-09-2020-JM the DIMEX cards were extended as such:

    • The validity of DIMEX cards for Permanent Residents was extended until January 11th, 2021. If a Permanent Resident does not renew on time, they will still be required to pay a fine per month of expired DIMEX. However, a fine will not be computed and therefore will not need to be paid for the months between December 2019 and January 2021.

    • The validity of DIMEX cards for Temporary Residents and Special Categories that have expired after December 18th, 2019 onwards was extended until January 11th, 2021.

    • The validity of Estancias that expired after March 17th, 2020 was extended until February 12th, 2021.

    • After January 11th, 2021, Temporary Residents as well as people with Special Categories will have up to three months, per law, to renew. Failure to renew within these three months will result in the cancellation of their status.

    • Considering that renewals will only be accepted by appointment, you must secure a renewal appointment within these three months to ensure your Residency is not cancelled. So, for example, if you hold Residency as a Pensionado and your DIMEX expired on June 20th, 2020, it was automatically extended until January 11th, 2021. From January 11th, 2021 you have 3 months to renew it at BCR or Correos de Costa Rica or at least request an appointment within these three months. In such a case, if the appointment is granted for April 20th, 2021, you will still be allowed to renew since you secured an appointment within the three-month grace period allowed by law.

Tourists 

  1. Regarding tourists: if you entered the country between December 18th, 2019 and November 30th, 2020, your entry stamp is automatically extended until March 2nd, 2021. If you entered the country from December 1st, 2020 onwards, your entry stamp will depend on the insurance. Hence, if you enter the country with insurance that covers you for 10 days, you will receive a 10-day entry stamp. If you wish to extend this up to the permitted 90 days, you must request an appointment by calling 1311 or through migracion.go.cr. You must extend the insurance to cover you for the duration of your stay. You can read further on the matter here. We are in the process of requesting further clarification on this point to reconfirm this information.

Passports and other local needs 

  1. Costa Rican passports will continue to be processed by appointment only through migracion.go.cr or by calling 1311. Branches of Banco de Costa Rica (800 BCRCITA, or through www.bancobcr.com) and Correos de Costa Rica (by calling 1311) will also continue to assist with passport processing. Any inquiry regarding Costa Rican passports must be sent to pasaportes@migracion.go.cr or ticosenelexterior@migracion.go.cr

  2. Minors exit permits will be processed by appointment only through migracion.go.cr or by calling 1311. To cancel a minors exit permit, one can visit the Immigration Department between 7AM and 2PM, Monday thru Friday, no appointment required.

  3. Migratory movements will continue to be processed online only through migracion.go.cr.

  4. If a person wishes to review a file or request a copy of a file, they will need to book an appointment through migracion.go.cr or by calling 1311.

  5. Entry visas for restricted nationalities are suspended until April 30th, 2021 with certain exceptions, for example, entry visas requested by accredited companies (local companies that receive special treatment at the Immigration Department due to their regular influx of foreign nationals that have gone through an accreditation process), visas requested by certain Education Institutions accredited before Immigration, visas requested by the Government, transit visas, family reunification visas.

If you have questions regarding this article, please post them in the comments below. We will be responding to questions related to this topic here. 

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ibrenes@outlierlegal.com

Attorney with more than 10 years of experience in customer service, team management and team building at an international level. Has worked immigration cases in various countries, including Costa Rica, Colombia and Panama.

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7 COMMENTS
  • Avatar
    Marc Ramsay January 18, 2021

    I think Costa Rica needs to seriously rethink their strategy here. They have been extending visa’s since December 2019 and now there is a large number of non-residents in the country who all have to leave on or around March 2nd in order to maintain their legal right to stay. There are also a lot of people with residency applications in process that have to leave because the ministry of transportation does not honor the residency application process and still requires you to leave before your entry stamp expires if you want to be able to drive (why hasn’t this been fixed).
    So, land borders are still closed, so the only way in and out is by plane. You are forcing all of these people to get on planes and go to another country where it is probably not as safe as Costa Rica, and possibly bring the virus back with them, and probably infecting more Costa Ricans.
    And with the limited number of flights coming in and out of the country, how are all of these people actually supposed to be able to get a flight?
    This is insane. There has to be a better way.
    Why not set up locations that allow people who want to extend their visa’s can safely go, and show they have the necessary insurance, and get new stamps in their passports. Now you have just reduced the possibility of all these people returning to Costa Rica with the virus and making an already bad situation even worse. Canada and the USA are already putting tighter restrictions on travel, so you are forcing people to go to unsafe places like Panama and Guatemala just so they can pass back through immigration and get their passports stamped.
    Come on Costa Rica! The country is already in bad shape financially, and forcing all these people to leave the country reduces the amount of money they are putting into the economy, and increasing the Covid cases, which doesn’t help the economy either.
    Who do you have to talk to to put these ideas in front of the government to get them to have some sober second thoughts on their current trajectory?

  • Avatar
    Sarah January 21, 2021

    Thanks so much for the information. Regarding land borders: is the Costa Rican land border open to take a bus to Nicaragua and back into Costa Rica?
    Gracias,
    Sarah

    • Rafael Valverde
      Rafael Valverde January 24, 2021

      Sarah,

      Not at the moment. They are supposed to open in March.

  • Avatar
    Matthias February 4, 2021

    Is there any chance still that Visas will be automatically extended again?
    There must be hundreds, if not thousands of perpetual tourists in the country who are now being forced to fly out and back in again.

    • Stacey Jennings
      Stacey Jennings February 10, 2021

      We have no updates at this time, if we do we will post the information.

  • Avatar
    Mer February 9, 2021

    I submitted my Pensioners Visa application in July of 2019 and have my numero expediente. It was provisionally denied in Feb. 2020 because it did not include the FBI background check, which had not been a requirement when I filed the application. They will be reviewing my file again on Feb. 23, 2021 but I just learned that it is unlikely that my FBI check will have made it through the apostille process by then, Will I need to start the whole process over again? Or is it reasonable to expect that they will allow more time for the apostilled document to arrive? Just trying to figure out if I’m going to need to plan a quick trip abroad to keep my tourist visa valid past March 2, and then if I need to start working on getting new copies of all of my documents. Thank you!

    • Stacey Jennings
      Stacey Jennings February 10, 2021

      We cannot provide advice or feedback as we would need to check the file, the notifications, and review further. Please let me know if you would like me to put you in touch with one of our immigration attorneys to discuss a case review.

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