Will the new visa fines stop or control perpetual tourism? In 2011, a new article of the immigration law was approved. The law came in effect on August 1st, 2014.
This article fines tourists $100 per month after their tourist visa expires.
Those who cannot pay or are unwilling to do so, will not be allowed back into the country for three times the length they overstayed on their tourist visa.
I imagine the government doesn’t know either how many people live like that in Costa Rica. Thousands of foreigners from the US, Canada, Europe and elsewhere, enjoy perpetual tourism in Costa Rica. Many of those are snowbirds and rent short term. Others just live here long term and leave the country every three months to renew their tourist visa.
Quite a few that enjoy perpetual tourism own property in Costa Rica. Some even have a business. They have never bothered getting their legal residency or did not apply for some reason.
Many do not know they can apply for legal residency if their property is appraised in the municipality for at least $200,000. With a Dimex in their pocket, they do not have to worry about leaving the country every 90 days.
Not having legal residency Costa Rica, also means not being able to get medical insurance like CCSS or INS. You can’t even open a regular bank account in Costa Rica.
You might think that the government is now going after the gringos, trying to catch the illegals amongst you. That is not true.
The Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería (Immigration) is trying to control the flow of Nicaraguans who live illegally in Costa Rica. Many work here as maids, gardeners, construction workers, etc. without legal residency and without paying social security.
Did you know that the law fines those who hire illegal workers with fines from 2 to 12 times the salary of that worker? They are the reason those fines, so the government can try to stop perpetual tourism.
In my opinion
When creating these articles in the immigration law, the government never even paid attention to the thousands of gringos living in Costa Rica illegally, because the statistics call them tourists. Nobody even realizes how millions of dollars are spent monthly in the local economy by perpetual tourists spending their pension, income or savings, purchasing groceries, getting medical services, paying power and water and hiring housekeepers and gardeners.
If you are a perpetual tourist, just make sure you leave the country every 90 days, so you won’t have to pay the $100 fine or get your legal residency. With the new immigration law your income as a “Pensionado” has to be $1,000 and as a “Rentista” $2,500 (check with your lawyer). Remember, if your Costa Rica property is valued in the municipality at $200K, you can apply for legal residency too.
Are you worried that the Costa Rican government is now going after the gringos? Please don’t, but do try to get your legal residency in place.
For legal advice to apply for legal residency, see awesome attorneys in Costa Rica. If you’re on the market to buy or rent property, contact us now.
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