$100 exit fine directed at Nicaraguan workers

Some perpetual tourists in Costa Rica are verging on paranoia because they think they will be hit with a $100 fine if they are delayed in leaving the country to renew a visa.

The Nicaraguan domestic, construction and agricultural workers are the ones who should be paranoid. That’s because the fine does not apply to tourists but only to those with expired residency and labor permits, according to the immigration agency.

The fine is one of those measures that has been on the books for four years and is just now coming into force.

The measure specifically targets the thousands of Nicaraguans who come to Costa Rica on 30-day visas seeking jobs and those who already are here on employment visas.

The Costa Rica government has been trying hard to learn the size of the Nicaraguan population here and get each the proper paperwork. Officials have established a series of amnesties. The period for the last residency amnesty ended July 31. About 10,000 persons in domestic employment, construction and agricultural work signed up.

The fine went into force Aug. 1, so Sept. 1 is the first day the immigration officials will be collecting it at the border. In addition, those who have overstayed their permissions will have to remain outside the country for three times the period that they were here with expired paperwork, according to the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería.

Part of the confusion among perpetual tourists comes from statements over the years by officials. Some have said the fines would apply to everyone.

A spokesperson for the immigration agency said Monday that this is not the case and that tourists will not be affected.

Another pileup at the border is likely because those who overstayed have to pay their fine 48 hours earlier at Banco de Costa Rica.

Most of those affected do not know about the law although the newspapers in Managua have covered the situation in detail.

Perpetual tourists are those persons who live in Costa Rica, may even have jobs here and renew their tourism visa by leaving the country periodically. They usually are First World citizens who merit a 90-day visa.

The attitude of the current administration toward perpetual tourists has yet to be demonstrated.

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