Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
I have lived in Costa Rica for six years, have residente permanente and have donated my body to Universidad de Ciencias Medicas when I die. I read as much as I can about the state of affairs in Cost Rica. One thing has always baffled me though. The government is in constant need of more money, but continue to let tourists leave the country every 90 days on a short trip to Panamá or Nicaragua and then give them another 90-day tourist visa.
It seems to me that it would be much more beneficial to allow a one-time renewal of the tourist visa for a fixed price, let’s say $150.00. This could be done as follows and would accomplish a number of things.
First, set up an office at Migration to collect the fee and issue the new visa. This would require a minimum amount of space and manpower. Also, only issue 15-day visa’s to those returning from a short trip to Panamá or Nicaragua. This would solve a number of issues.
1. It would provide substantial, additional income to the government with very little investment.
2. It would keep the money that these people spend going to Panamá and Nicaragua in Costa Rica.
3. It would provide an easy way for those tourists who spend four or five months here in the winter to renew their visa once without leaving the country.
4. It would give Immigration better control over those people in Costa Rica on a tourist visa.
5. It would encourage only those expats who are serious about moving to Costa Rica and becoming residents to actually do so.
In addition, I suspect that many of the current perpetual tourist’s are unsavory characters who could be weeded out using this system. This all seems very simple and logical to me. I would be interested in hearing other views on the subject.
Lourdes de Montes de Oca
EDITOR’S NOTE: When the lawmakers passed the current immigration, we thought there was a provision for just that. We had encouraged lawmakers to support that idea. Then officials realized that a $100 renewal of a visa only was legal for someone who had not received a 90-day visa. In current practice, persons from countries whose residents can obtain a 90-day visa are prohibited from in-country renewal.