Post Study Work Options: How to Get a Work Visa in Costa Rica After Studies

Post Study Work Options: How to Get a Work Visa in Costa Rica After Studies

This Central American country lies between Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south. Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with a modern capital city, reliable utility service, clean water, lush rainforests, long stretches of deserted tropical beaches, cool mountain getaways, and pristine lake regions.

The incredible biodiversity of Costa Rica is something you will never get sick of. Every area has its own unique landscape and lifestyle to go with it.

The country has an excellent education system, no army, and stable democracy that makes it the peaceful nation that it is. Because the country has no army to support, it is able to provide money for universal medical care and free and subsidized educational programs. There is also reliable high-speed internet throughout the country, even in remote areas. 

Costa Rica boasts a tropical climate, with a rainy winter season and a dry summer, both of which can vary depending on where in the country you are.

Most people in Costa Rica speak Spanish, though many also speak native languages as well as English and some speak French.

If you want to work and live in Costa Rica after your studies, you need a work permit to legally work in the country. To get a work permit you need an employer to support your application.  If you want to explore your other options, read our other blog posts on post-study options to know how to get a work visa for the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America!

Work Permit in Costa Rica

Obtaining a work permit in Costa Rica is almost impossible, due to the high level of restrictions the government has put in place to ensure that foreign nationals do not take the jobs Costa Rica nationals can have. 

You have to note that there are some jobs that only Costa Ricans can do. Basically, the idea is that if a foreign national is highly skilled or has a special talent that no other Costa Rican has in an area where that job can possibly be filled by a Costa Rican then and only then can a work permit be issued. Only in this rare case can the employer apply for a work permit for one year.

Once you have been offered a job by a Costa Rican company, your employer should apply on your behalf. To obtain a work permit in Costa Rica, you must first apply for a residence permit. Your temporary residence permit as a student will remain valid until the completion of your study program.

Work Permit: Special Category Residency

This is a work visa and a form of temporary residence that allows foreigners to take up employment in the country.

Occupations that can apply to work in Costa Rica under the Special Category Residency include:

  • athletes
  • artists and entertainers
  • inter-company transfers;
  • professional and technical guests
  • self-employed individuals
  • temporary and seasonal workers
  • academic researchers, professors, and teachers
  • interns

To apply, you need to prepare the following documents:

  • application form
  • two passport-sized photographs
  • birth certificate
  • copies of your passport pages, including the ID page and even blank pages
  • employer statement with details of your salary, length of employment, and job description
  • Registration Documents and the Legal Constitution of the hiring company
  • proof that workers insurance has been paid
  • proof of sufficient financial means
  • police clearance 
  • proof of registration with a Costa Rican consulate (your provisional visa)

*Additional documents may be requested. 

A work permit application can take anywhere between 3 to 8 months to process, on average, but it may take even longer.

Temporary Residence Permit in Costa Rica

A temporary resident permit is issued for a period of two years. It is renewable and there is no limitation on the number of renewals.

Inversionista Visa (Investor Visa)

As the name implies, this visa is for foreign nationals who plan to make a considerable financial investment into Costa Rica’s economy. This can be a conservational investment, such as purchasing land for preservation, home purchases, or opening up your own business. Holders of this visa must invest at least 113,187,420 CRC (200,000 USD), which needs to be already verified and registered at the time of your visa application.

If you choose to open your own business with this visa, you cannot be one of the staff members. You have to hire Costa Rican residents to work for you.

Types of investments include:

  • general business
  • transportation
  • hospitality (hotels, restaurants, bars, etc.)
  • tourism (including tours and amusement or adventure parks)
  • commercial and non-commercial real estate
  • forestry preservation

Rentista Visa (Resident Visa) 

The rentista visa is for foreign nationals who are able to prove 1,414,900 CRC (2,500 USD) per month of savings for the period of two years. This amount must come from unearned income such as savings, investments, or real estate property. 

If you can provide proof of this amount, then you are able to take up freelance work as long as you never need your earnings as part of your unearned amount.

No matter which self-employment visa you apply for, these will be the general documents you will be asked to submit:

  • application form
  • two passport-sized photographs
  • birth certificate
  • copies of your passport pages, including the ID page and even blank pages
  • employer statement with details of your salary, length of employment, and job description
  • registration documents and the Legal Constitution of the hiring company
  • proof that workers insurance has been paid
  • proof of sufficient financial means
  • police clearance
  • proof of registration with a Costa Rican consulate (your provisional visa)

If applying for the inversionista visa, you will also need to submit the following:

  • detailed business plan of your proposed business
  • letter stating how this investment will benefit the Costa Rican economy

Permanent Residence Permit

If you have no blood or family ties in Costa Rica, to be eligible for a permanent residence permit, you need to be a temporary resident for a minimum of three years. You need to apply before your current permit expires.

A permanent residence permit is indefinite and allows the holder similar rights as a Costa Rica citizen, including employment rights.

To apply, you need to submit the following documents to the Costa Rican Department of Immigration.

  • Application form 
  • A letter of application addressed to the head of immigration, containing all the information as your letter of application to the Consulate. Do not sign the letter. You must sign it in front of the Migracion official at the time of application.
  • Proof of registration with the Costa Rica consulate.
  • Your birth certificate.
  • Certificate of police clearance from your country.
  • You valid passport and copies of all the pages on your passport, even blank ones. After you arrive in Costa Rica, and before you apply at the immigration department, notarize the pages on your passport by a Costa Rican notary public.
  • If you have a Costa Rican relative: Birth/marriage certificate proving the family relationship from the Civil Registry of Costa Rica. No older than two months.
  • Three recent passport-size pictures.
  • Proof of sufficient financial means.
  • Proof of paid residence permit application fee.
  • Any additional documents related to your purpose of travel, such as proof of investment/retirement, employment contract, etc.

Naturalised Costa Rican Citizenship

After four years living in Costa Rica on a permanent resident visa, foreign nationals can then apply for citizenship. You must be living in Costa Rica, for at least seven years. 

Every month lived abroad will be deducted from the total time living in-country, meaning if you have spent 2 months outside the country since obtaining residency, you will need to apply 7 years and 2 months after you obtained residency.

To apply, you must prepare the following documents.

  • Cover letter
  • Background check
  • Birth certificate
  • Five passport-size photographs
  • Certified copy of the passport
  • Proof of income
  • Provide two witnesses that have known the applicant for at least 7 years.

In addition, all applicants under the age of 65 must take and pass a History and Spanish language test prior to applying.

Foreign documents such as the background check and the birth certificate must be authenticated for use in Costa Rica. The background check must be issued within three months prior to the filing of the application. In addition, the documents must be translated into Spanish.

Costa Rica recognises dual citizenship so you will not have to renounce your previous nationality to become a citizen of Costa Rica.

What are your thoughts on the Post Study Options in Costa Rica? Is there anything we missed or anything you need clarification on? Comment below.

IaM can help with your visa application to the United States, the UK & other countries

If you need help with a US visa, a UK Visa, or visa to Europe, including help with appointment booking obligations, IaM can help. For more information and advice on US immigration, UK immigration law and US visa applications or if you need any help or assistance please, reach out to your Visa Coordinator at IaM.

Charlie

 

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