A Little Ray of Sunshine
Costa Rica Moving Towards Recognizing Migratory Rights of Same Sex Couples.
On November 20th, 2018, the Immigration Department (DGME) issued and submitted for public opinion a draft legislation titled “REGULATION FOR THE RECOGNITION OF MIGRATORY RIGHTS TO COUPLES OF THE SAME SEX”.
The draft, which in summary states that same-sex couples holding a valid foreign marriage or civil union certificate must receive the same immigration rights as different-sex couples, cites advisory opinion OC-24/17 of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
As a binding recommendation, the Inter-American Court’s opinion on the absolute necessity of equal rights for same and different-sex couples has been on the public’s mind since 2017, and particularly during Costa Rica’s latest presidential election.
Used by some candidates that opposed the recommendation as a source for diatribe, the advisory opinion was, for many, a breath of fresh air.
Fearful of being too progressive, the Constitutional Court—the entity that held the key to reassert the mandatory nature of immediate equal treatment of same and different-sex couples—issued an 18-month moratorium to allow the Legislative Assembly to regulate same-sex marriage.
With issuance and publication of the Constitutional Court’s complete ruling, the 18-month countdown has officially begun.
In response, Immigration has followed suit. It is to be expected, then, that in approximately 18 months, same-sex couples will be able to apply as a family unit for temporary residency, permanent residency, special categories or any other processes of migratory regularization in Costa Rica.
Furthermore, Immigration has also prepared a draft decree that will allow for name, picture, and gender changes in the Immigration Identity Document for Foreigners (DIMEX). To do so, foreign nationals will need to present not only an affidavit but also a document issued by the pertinent authority of the country of origin certifying and acknowledging the change.
This November Costa Rica is finally working towards becoming the first Central American country to legalize same-sex marriage and recognize its effects in all areas of the administration, including immigration.
This article was written by Irene Brenes Akerman, the Immigration Attorney and Immigration Services Coordinator at Outlier Legal Services.