Virginia, US

Mar 09 2020

Update on Implementation of Overstay Penalties and Bans

Costa Rica

At a Glance

  • According to an announcement on the General Immigration Directorate's website, effective April 21, 2020, immigration authorities will begin enforcing penalties for many categories of foreign nationals leaving Costa Rica after their authorized period of stay.
  • The penalty is either a fine of USD 100 for each month the foreign national has stayed in Costa Rica beyond their authorized period of stay (retroactive to March 1, 2010), or a re-entry ban for three times the number of months they were out of status for foreign nationals who fail to pay the fine.
  • Foreign nationals and their employers should initiate their visa renewal process as early as possible and should ensure they remain in status during their stay or employment in Costa Rica.

The situation

According to an announcement on the General Immigration Directorate's website, effective April 21, 2020, immigration authorities will begin enforcing penalties for many categories of foreign nationals leaving Costa Rica after their authorized period of stay.

A closer look

  • Penalties. The following penalties are contemplated under the current rule:
    • A fine of USD 100 for each month the foreign national has stayed in Costa Rica beyond their authorized period of stay, retroactive to March 1, 2010. The amount of the fine will be calculated, and paid, at the time of departure.
    • Re-entry ban for three times the number of months they were out of status, for foreign nationals who fail to pay the fine.
  • Affected foreign nationals. The above penalties apply to tourists, transit visitors, airline crewmembers, short-stay or special category visa holders and temporary residents who have fallen out of lawful immigration status and who have not filed for change of status or started a renewal application; or who were notified of a rejected immigration status but have not filed an appeal.
  • Exclusions. Foreign nationals exempt from these penalties include minors, refugees, asylees, stateless persons, persons of legal age with disabilities, border workers, permanent residents and foreign nationals who have applied for naturalization in Costa Rica.

 

Impact

  • Tourists and non-residents should:
    • Exit Costa Rica within their authorized period of stay;
    • Request an extension of stay prior to the end of their authorized period of stay. An extension of stay is only available if the initial authorized stay was less than 90 days; or
    • Request a change of status to another visa category prior to the expiration of their authorized period of stay.
  • Temporary residents and short-term or special category visa holders, and their employers, should initiate the visa renewal process as early as possible prior to the expiration of their current status. Renewal applications can be filed three months in advance for temporary residents, and one month in advance for short-term or special category visas.
  • Foreign nationals who have overstayed their authorized period of stay should contact their immigration professional to discuss available options.

 

Background

Penalties were established since the implementation of the immigration law in 2010. The rule was again published in 2014 and scheduled to be enforced in 2018, but the government has postponed implementation several times to finalize the infrastructure for collection of penalty fees at the country’s ports of exit.

Looking ahead

Although advances in the infrastructure are not yet apparent and details on the payment method and process at ports of entry have not been released, after several postponements and with mounting pressure from the government, foreign nationals and employers should be prepared for the General Immigration Directorate to begin enforcing penalties as scheduled.

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 [email protected].