At a Glance
- Foreign nationals applying for a short-stay visa or for accredited-company temporary residence may now work in Costa Rica during the processing of their applications, due to a new rule published by the Costa Rican government. Previously, applicants had to wait until their short-term visas (which take approximately four to five weeks to process) or residence applications (which take approximately four to five months to process) were approved.
- Upon filing their immigration applications, foreign nationals are generally issued an application filing receipt, which will now provide sufficient evidence for eligible foreign nationals to begin work and for employers to enroll their workers in the local payroll.
The Costa Rican government has published a new rule which allows certain foreign nationals to work in Costa Rica during the processing of their immigration application and which is effective immediately.
A closer look
Details of the new rule include the following:
- Eligible foreign
nationals. The following foreign nationals are eligible to
work during the processing of their immigration applications:
- Foreign nationals who have applied or are applying for a short-stay visa;
- Foreign nationals who have applied or are applying for accredited-company temporary residence; and
- Foreign nationals entering the country as non-resident international transportation personnel.
- Clarification needed for certain foreign nationals. It remains unclear whether foreign employees of accredited companies filing other immigration applications (such as change of status from special category permit to temporary residence, change of status from dependent to worker or change of employer applications) can take advantage of the new rule. Fragomen will contact the Costa Rican General Immigration Directorate for clarification.
- Interim work authorization. Upon filing their immigration applications, foreign nationals are generally issued an application filing receipt, which will now provide sufficient evidence for eligible foreign nationals to begin work and for employers to enroll their workers in the local payroll. Previously, foreign nationals could only begin working and be enrolled in local payroll upon the approval of the residence or visa application.
- Post-application adjudication. The filing receipt is only valid as an interim work authorization document. Once an immigration application is approved, the approval notice together with the valid Identification Card become the work authorization documents. If an immigration application is denied, the filing receipt becomes invalid; at this point, foreign nationals can no longer work and must immediately come off payroll.
- Leaving the country during processing. Foreign nationals should be aware that the filing receipt is not a re-entry document. Foreign nationals traveling abroad during the processing of their applications will exit and re-enter Costa Rica as tourists until their visa or resident card is issued and must comply with all entry requirements based on their nationality.
- Earlier work authorized status. As a result of this change, short-stay visa applicants can obtain their work authorized status four to five weeks earlier, and accredited-company temporary residence applicants can obtain their work authorized status four to five months earlier, compared to the previous rule.
- Payroll implications. Employers should plan for the earlier work authorized date and should check with tax and payroll advisors for any specific implications.
The Costa Rican government has introduced this change to streamline and expedite the work authorization process for high volume residence and visa categories, thereby promoting foreign investment and national economic development.
This change may encourage companies to increase their foreign personnel movements into Costa Rica as they can take advantage of shorter work authorization times. Additional policy changes can be expected as the government works towards alleviating complex immigration processing and backlogs of applications to remain an attractive destination for foreign investment.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.