New immigration rules have good news on rentistas

The second set of immigration regulations became public Thursday, and there was no crackdown on perpetual tourists.

The new rules did lower to $60,000 the amount a foreigner would need to become a rentista, according to Javier Zavaleta of Residency in Costa Rica. He follows the issues from his California office.

“New income requirement for rentista is still $2,500 per month of unearned income BUT for only 2 years (24 months) instead of five years or sixty months,” he wrote. “In terms of money: a rentista applicant will now need only $60,000 in the bank instead of $150,000 previously required.”

The $60,000 requirement was the amount required through March 1, 2010, when the new immigration law upped the requirement. The rules published Thursday in the La Gaceta official newspaper represent the second set that defines the details in how the law is applied.

The requirement for pensionado remains at a lifelong income of at least $1,000 a month.

The regulations did not mention perpetual tourists as many had feared. But it did repeat the legal definition of tourist. That is a person authorized to enter the country only for the ends of rest or relaxation and who has the economic means of subsistence sufficient for the authorized period.

That definition could cause problems for the perpetual tourists who have businesses here or who work via the Internet. For years, many real estate salesmen were perpetual tourists who left the country every 90 days to renew their visa.

The 214-page document bears the signature of President Laura Chinchilla Miranda and Mario Zamora Cordero, the security minster. The Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería is in his ministry.
The document is full of rules and regulations that will never affect expats. These include the statues of persons living along the nation’s borders or truckers who enter the country regularly. Also treated in detail are foreigners who come to Costa Rica as sports participants, members of religious groups or news people.

“This is a very good change for potential applicants under the rentista program, “ said Zavaleta. “It points out that Migración realizes that the only time the rentista needs to prove income is at the time the application is filed and at the time of the first renewal — two years after the initial approval as a temporary resident. Why? Because after three years of being a temp resident, the temp resident can apply for permanent residency, which has no income requirement.”

The regulations accept the new system of apostille for foreign documents, which means the paperwork will not have to be passed through a Costa Rican consulate.

The rules also clearly state that foreigners married to a Costa Rican can obtain temporary residency for a year.

The rules also spell out for the first time how persons who come to Costa Rica for medical care can obtain a form of authorization to remain in the country. The requirements are much the same as other forms of residency and cost $100. Most medical visitors, unless they plan a very long stay, probably will continue to come under a tourism visa.

The rules also outline that a resident who loses documents will have to pay $98 for replacement.

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