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Can Foreigners Work in Costa Rica?

Posted by Marketing Edge on January 8, 2024

A question that many of our international clients ask us is whether people from other countries can work in Costa Rica. This question is not only important; it’s necessary for people who are thinking about moving to this beautiful country. In this blog post, we will break down the nuances regarding job opportunities for expats in Costa Rica. This will help you understand the rules and make an informed decision about pursuing your professional goals in this exciting Central American country.

Working in Costa Rica as a Foreigner

In order to legally work as an employee in Costa Rica as a foreigner, you typically need a work visa, which the country’s immigration authorities issue. You must apply for this visa either in your home country or at a Costa Rican consulate or embassy.

Generally, before applying for a work visa, you must obtain a job offer from a Costa Rican firm. The company may be required to show that they were unable to identify a suitable local candidate for the post.

While applying for an employee work visa may be a more difficult process for foreigners in Costa Rica, there are a few temporary residency routes that allow foreigners to stay legally while earning an income. Typically, one must first gain temporary residency before applying for permanent status after a few years.

Work in Costa Rica Remotely – “Digital Nomad” Visa Category

digital nomad work in costa rica

The Digital Nomad Visa allows you to stay legally while working in the nation for up to a year. The visa can also be extended for another year.

You must be self-employed or employed by a non-Costa Rican firm to be qualified. You must also show that you have enough money to maintain yourself and any family members in Costa Rica on a monthly basis.

The application procedure for a Costa Rican digital nomad visa is relatively simple and quick, with only a few supporting papers necessary to accompany the application form, such as bank statements. Those seeking a Costa Rica digital nomad visa must fulfill a few criteria, including proving a monthly income of at least $3,000.

Starting a business or buying property – “Inversionista” Visa Category

This category requires a minimum investment of $150,000 in-country. The investment might be in an active business, real estate, national interest initiatives, stocks or securities, or forest plantations (minimum investment of $100,000).

An applicant’s spouse and disabled children under the age of 25 may be included in the application.

This visa allows for a temporary stay. The temporary residency permit is valid for two years and can be renewed for another two years.

While the applicant in the Inversionista category is able to start their own business, they are not permitted to work as an employee in Costa Rica. After three years of staying as an inversionista as a legal resident, you can seek permanent residency in the country without limitations.

Living on a Fixed Income – “Rentista” or “Pensionado” Visa Category

The candidate, with their family group (either spouse or partner, parents, single siblings, and children), must earn at least $2,500 per month for a minimum of two years in order to be considered a rentista resident.

Another possibility is if the applicant demonstrates a $60,000 investment in a Costa Rican bank.

The rentista residency lasts two years. These residency documents can be renewed for another two years. After three years of temporary residency, you will be eligible for permanent residency.

To be eligible for the Pensionado Visa, you must have a lifetime monthly pension of at least $1,000. Social security, annuities, retirement accounts, military pensions, and other retirement options are all viable options for this. There is no minimum retirement age in Costa Rica.

For more information:

Visit the official websites of important Costa Rican government departments to learn more about working in Costa Rica and associated governmental information. To get you started, here are some useful websites:

1. Costa Rican Ministry of Labor and Social Security (Ministerio de Trabajo y Seguridad Social – MTSS): This website contains information on Costa Rican labor laws, work permits, and employment rules. – URL: MTSS Costa Rica

2. Costa Rican Immigration Directorate (Dirección General de Migración y Extranjera): This agency is in charge of immigration affairs such as visas and residence permits. – Costa Rican Immigration

3. Websites of Costa Rican embassies and consulates: Costa Rican embassies and consulates in the United States and your home nation may have useful information on visas, work permits, and embassy contact information. – For instance, Costa Rican Embassy in Washington, D.C.

4. Official Website of the Costa Rican Government: The Costa Rican government’s official website provides a wealth of information on a variety of issues, including immigration and labor regulations. – Costa Rican Government

** Please keep in mind that government websites are often only available in Spanish, so if you are not fluent in Spanish, you should utilize translation tools or seek assistance. If you have particular queries or want assistance, you can typically find contact information for relevant government entities on their own websites.

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