US

May 13 2019

Immigration Special Processing Window Restricted to Accredited Company Applications

Costa Rica

At a Glance

  • The Costa Rican General Immigration Directorate has clarified that it will only accept accredited company applications through the special processing window, which does not include Permanent Residence, Change of Status from Temporary to Permanent Residency and Temporary Residence by Kinship with a Costa Rican, among other applications. Therefore, affected applicants will need to file other applications through the regular process, resulting in processing times of 10 to 12 months instead of three to four months.
  • Affected foreign nationals should plan to file their applications early to avoid delays and the expiration of their current status. In some cases, affected applicants will need to renew their current status prior to filing to avoid complications during the processing of their application.
  • This measure is intended to alleviate processing delays for initial residence permits and other applications filed by accredited companies to allow foreign nationals to start working in Costa Rica sooner.

The situation

The Costa Rican General Immigration Directorate has clarified the types of applications that it will accept at the special processing window.

A closer look

  • Special processing window restriction. The Costa Rican General Immigration Directorate has clarified that it will only accept accredited company applications in the special processing window, which does not include Permanent Residence, Change of Status from Temporary to Permanent Residency and Temporary Residence by Kinship with a Costa Rican, among other applications. Previously, foreign nationals employed by accredited companies could also file some non-company sponsored applications through this window.
  • Longer processing times. Affected foreign nationals must now submit Permanent Residence requests, Change of Status from Temporary to Permanent Residency and Temporary Residence by Kinship with a Costa Rican, among other applications, through the regular process instead of the special processing window. This means that these applications will be processed in 10 to 12 months instead of three to four months.
  • Unaffected applications. Accredited companies can continue to submit Temporary Residence Permit applications for employees and their dependents, among other types of applications allowed by law, at the special window for accredited companies.

 

Impact

  • Expiration of residence card. Longer processing times for Change of Status from Temporary to Permanent Residency applications may result in the expiration of the foreign national’s current residence card. Although a foreign national with a pending change of status application may legally continue to reside and work in Costa Rica, foreign nationals with expired residence cards may face issues re-entering Costa Rica and carrying out certain government services or financial processes.
  • Ensure longer validity under current status. Affected foreign nationals should ensure that their current status is valid for at least one year when filing a Change of Status from Temporary to Permanent Residency application to avoid expiration of their residence card. Otherwise, they should plan to renew their current residence permit for an additional two years prior to filing a change of status.
  • Long-term impact. The measure should reduce processing times for pending and future Temporary Residence applications for accredited companies, allowing foreign nationals to start working in Costa Rica sooner.

 

Background

Companies that meet certain eligibility criteria and are therefore accredited by immigration authorities in Costa Rica enjoy benefits such as shorter immigration application processing times.

Costa Rican immigration authorities have implemented this measure to alleviate the significant backlog of applications filed by accredited companies and to prioritize initial immigration processes allowing foreign employees to start working in Costa Rica.

Looking ahead

Based on Fragomen’s discussions with the General Immigration Directorate, additional solutions to the current backlog are expected. Fragomen will report on relevant developments.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to lar@fragomen.com.