February 2015

This summary is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered an authoritative guide on how to obtain work authorization in Costa Rica. The intent is to give the reader a general overview of the process only. Procedures and requirements may have changed since the writing of this article. For current and detailed information regarding the topics below, as well as documentary requirements, processing times, post-arrival and departure requirements, penalties for non-compliance, allowances for accompanying family members, and any other information pertaining to your specific needs, please contact your Pro-Link GLOBAL immigration professional.

Overview

BUSINESS VISITOR

Permitted Activities – Business visitors must generally limit their activities to the following:

• Attending business meetings or discussions;
• Making sales calls to potential clients provided that the visitor represents a commercial entity outside of Costa Rica;
• Attending seminars or “fact-finding” meetings.

Type of Business Visas – The Consular Visa and the Restricted Visa are the typical visas issued to business travelers. Note that the applicant’s nationality will determine the appropriate business visa.

Basic Requirements

1. Intention of a genuine visit for business and not for paid employment;
2. Valid passport;
3. Evidence that there are no restrictions on his or her traveling to Costa Rica;
4. No intention to permanently reside in Costa Rica;
5. A ticket for onward travel from Costa Rica;
6. Proof of funds.

Estimated Processing Times – This varies by diplomatic post and country.

Maximum Time On Visa – This visa allows business people to make a short business visit to Costa Rica for up to three (3) months. Visas can be extended in country.

Typical Documents Required – All travelers need to present the following documents to officers in immigration clearance:

• a valid passport or other acceptable travel document and in some cases;
• a valid visa or authority to enter Costa Rica.

EMPLOYMENT AUTHORIZATION

Basic Requirements – The principle visa category for temporary employment in Costa Rica is the Temporary Residence Permit (TRP). This is a category for employers to sponsor approved skilled workers to work in Costa Rica on a temporary basis. Note that TRP applications sponsored by companies that are accredited by the General Immigration Directorate (DGME) should be submitted directly to the DGME, while applications sponsored by unaccredited companies must be submitted to a Costa Rican consular post abroad. Applications submitted abroad can take over a year to be processed. Pro-Link GLOBAL can assist with the accreditation process if required; please factor in an additional 30-45 day lead time.

Process Overview – The process for obtaining a Temporary Residence Permit is as follows:

1. Entry to Costa Rica on business visitor status;
2. Temporary Residence Permit application;
3. Temporary Residence Permit card (cedula) collection;
4. Fingerprints and Consular Registration.

Estimated Processing Time – six to eight weeks for the above-described process. Note that Consular applications will take considerable longer with processing times of up to one (1) year.

Validity periods – Temporary Residence Permits are valid for up to two (2) years, depending on length of assignment. Renewals of two (2) additional years are possible.

Family Members – Dependents of Temporary Residence Permit holders are not granted permission to work in Costa Rica.

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