As of July 2022, Costa Rica officially opened the application process for the country's new remote worker visa under the immigration category “Stay (Estancia) for Remote Workers and Service Providers.” Like many countries, Costa Rica suffered a hit to its tourism sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. The country created the digital nomad visa in an effort to attract long-term visitors and stimulate the local economy. The law enabling the new visa category was signed in August 2021, but administrative and logistical requirements have delayed implementation until now.
Costa Rica's adoption of a digital nomad visa follows the introduction of similar immigration pathways in Italy, Romania, Iceland, the United Arab Emirates, and other countries. A major benefit of the new pathway is that visa holders will not have to obtain local sponsorship or employment authorization in order to work in Costa Rica for an employer abroad.
The new visa type is available to foreign nationals who are employed or provide services to an employer, person, or entity outside of Costa Rica. The applicant must have an income of at least US$3,000 a month (or US$4,000 if accompanied by family/dependents) and private health insurance for themselves and any accompanying dependents while living in Costa Rica. Eligible foreign nationals will be allowed to remain in Costa Rica for one year with the possibility of a one-time extension for an additional year. It is important to note that visa holders will not be allowed to engage in local employment in Costa Rica, as the visa category was created specifically for remote workers.
The governing Costa Rican authority will process the visa application within 15 days. More information on the documentation requirements for the visa can be found on Costa Rica's immigration agency webpage.
Benefits for Remote Workers
The availability of this new visa will bring several benefits to remote workers. Compared to other visa types, applicants for the remote worker visa are not required to obtain criminal clearance certificates or apostilles of supporting documents, such as proof of income, birth certificates, or marriage certificates. Applicants also benefit from relaxed proof of income requirements, an income tax exemption, and an exemption from the tax on importation of work-related tech equipment.
Considerations for Employers
Given the streamlined nature of the application, employers are only minimally involved in the visa process for their employees who are seeking to remote work from Costa Rica. Specifically, employers of remote workers must only provide verification letters on behalf of their employees. Even so, companies should exercise caution to ensure that foreign nationals are not being employed beyond the scope of their immigration permissions. Employers are encouraged to review local tax and labor laws in order to be aware of any applicable rules and regulations that impact an employer with a remote worker in Costa Rica.
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