Feb 25 2021

Visa Waiver Forthcoming for Certain Chinese Nationals

Costa Rica

At a Glance

  • Effective March 1, 2021, nationals of China who are 18 years of age or older and with passports issued in Beijing or Shanghai, will no longer require a consular visa to enter Costa Rica for tourism or business for up to 30 days.
  • In addition to the above requirements, according to the Minister of Tourism, it is expected that eligible travelers will need to purchase a tourism package from a tour agency registered in Costa Rica. Additional details are expected to be released by the government.
  • Other Chinese nationals will still require a consular-issued visa to enter Costa Rica for tourism or business (the issuance of which is currently suspended until at least April 30, 2021 due to COVID-19).

The situation

The General Immigration Directorate has published an amended General Visa Directive which will allow nationals of China 18 years of age or older with passports issued in Beijing or Shanghai to enter Costa Rica for tourism or business without a visa, effective March 1, 2021.

A closer look

  • Other eligibility requirements. According to the Minister of Tourism, it is expected that eligible travelers will also be required to purchase a tourism package from a tour agency registered in Costa Rica. Additional details are expected to be released by the government.
  • Duration. Eligible Chinese nationals will be able to enter Costa Rica for up to 30 days.
  • In-country change of status not allowed. Chinese nationals entering under the visa waiver will not be able to apply to change their status to a work authorization or a different migratory category in country. This practice is generally permissible in country for nationals of other visa-exempt countries.
  • Pandemic-related restrictions. Costa Rica is allowing visa-exempt foreign nationals to enter Costa Rica as tourists, provided they enter through the Juan Santamaría (San Jose) or Daniel Oduber (Liberia) international airports; submit a Health Pass form; and hold international travel insurance which includes COVID-19 treatment and quarantine coverage. For more information visit Fragomen’s dedicated COVID-19 website.
  • Other general entry requirements. All foreign nationals entering Costa Rica as visitors must provide proof of financial means during their stay (at least USD 100 per month), and a return or onward airline or other travel ticket. ​​Chinese nationals should have a passport valid for at least six months.

 

Impact

Eligible Chinese nationals traveling for tourism or business will be able to enter Costa Rica based on their passport and will not need to obtain a visa prior to arrival (the issuance of which is currently suspended until at least April 30, 2021 due to COVID-19).

Background

  • COVID-19 impact on Costa Rica’s economy. Strict COVID-19-related travel restrictions and health measures implemented in Costa Rica in March 2020 had a dramatic impact on the tourism sector. Travel restrictions were gradually eased after August 2020, with a full opening of air borders to all visa-exempt tourists in November 2020, as the government shifted its focus to improving the economy.
  • Purpose of new visa waiver. The visa waiver policy aims to increase tourism from China, which is part of the government’s continued plan to reenergize the tourism sector.

 

Looking ahead

Additional changes to immigration policies are likely forthcoming as the COVID-19 epidemiological situation evolves in the country and the government focuses on remobilization and economic recovery. Two proposed laws under legislative review seek to create a short-term visa for remote workers and introduce improvements to the temporary residence category for foreign retirees and investors.

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].