The Legislative Journey
A lot has been said in the news recently about a few bills in Congress that will impact the expat community. There is a bill in Congress that aims to create a new category: an
A lot has been said in the news recently about a few bills in Congress that will impact the expat community. There is a bill in Congress that aims to create a new category: an Estancia (similar to a visa) for digital nomads. The Estancia, which is not a Residency, would allow a stay of one year, renewable for up to one more year. This Estancia for digital nomads will be for people who can prove an income of at least $3000 USD per month ($4000 USD if the applicant will add family members). You can read further regarding this here.
There is another bill that proposes incentives for foreign nationals applying for a Residency. You can read further on that proposal here. However, as mentioned before, these are all still proposals and while they may have received a positive initial review, it will take some time for them to become law. Furthermore, we will need to wait for the rulings, issued by the Court in a posterior process, that will govern these new laws to be published so that these new categories or incentives can come into play.
It is important to discuss the process by which laws are proposed, discussed and created in Costa Rica, per political importance and national events.
Now, adjusting to the rule of law in which Costa Ricans live, we must remember the necessary and mandatory legal / political structure currently in force and through which a logical agreement of power distribution and command division is established.
Our Congress, known as the Legislative Assembly (from now on CR Congress), has determined a logical order to present bills, and must abide by a series of requirements. All bills must be filed before the Secretary of the Board of Directors and they must come in print and digital formats. It is important to mention that both the physical and digital documents must be signed by the member or members of Congress who prepared them.
After the bill is filed, the President of the Congress will inform the other members in writing or by any other means about the filing of the bill, its nature and the respective committee to which it will be assigned.
Committees. Committees are created to resolve a specific matter related to a bill, or a required analysis or investigation and have a specific term to fulfill the entrusted purpose. Their composition will be proportional to the number of members of Congress that make up the parliamentary fractions. (www.asamblea.go.cr)
Before the bills are sent to the respective committee, they will go through the Archives Department to be numbered and recorded in the committee book, which will state the matter to which they refer, the name of the Congressman or woman that has prepared it and its subject.
Publication. Once the study phase is finished, the respective committee must establish, within the project’s considerations, the reference, number and date of the Official Gazette in which the original bill will be published, after which it will proceed to the processing phase in the plenary.
Any member of Congress may file written motions to the Secretariat of a Permanent Committee when they consider that a reform should be made into a bill. In addition, members of Congress have the possibility of filing motions on the merits before the respective Committee before the day of publication of the bill in the Official Gazette and while they have not been voted on by the same Committee.
Before voting on the bill and submitting the report to the CR Congress, the President of the Permanent Commission has the possibility of appointing a * subcommittee * to incorporate all the approved amendments or motions.
Processing in plenary. First Debate
Before members of Congress start any discussion of the matter within the plenary, the reports of the respective committee must be made known to them, in print form or by any other means.
The First Debate will begin with a general explanation of the text; then, the motions that have been filed will be heard, to give way to the discussion later and proceed with the approval or rejection of the bill.
Having the floor. Members of Congress have the right to speak. They may intervene for a period not exceeding 15 minutes and, when regarding the merits of the matter, they may intervene for up to 30 minutes.
Processing in plenary. Second Debate
Before starting any discussion regarding the Second Debate, the members of Congress must have had access to the bill under discussion in the First Debate, physically or digitally, 24 hours in advance, before the Second Debate session begins.
The date of the Second Debate will be established by the president of the CR Congress. In addition, the bills in the Second Debate will have priority on the agenda over any other issue.
Once a bill has been approved in the Second Debate and the corresponding decree has been signed, it will go to the Executive Directorate so that it can be sent to the Executive Power.
Article 116 of our Political Constitution establishes the way in which the CR Congress will manage its sessions. It is of great importance to remember that there are two types:
- Ordinary: They have a duration of six months and are divided into two periods. (The first period goes from May 1st to July 31st and the second period goes from September 1st to November 30th.)
- Extraordinary: They go from August 1st to 31st and from December 1st to April 30th of the following year.
This demonstrates that any bill proposal must follow a process. Many news outlets make it seem as if the digital nomad Estancia or the new versions of Rentista, Pensionado and Investor categories are ready to go when the truth is that these are currently proposals sitting in Congress, waiting to go through all of the steps.
Hopefully we will have good news to report on these two bill proposals soon. For now, we must wait.