San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Immigration Says it Will Investigate Illegal Realtors

Immigration officials are looking into a complaint alleging that dozens of foreigners are illegally working in real estate in the northwest province of Guanacaste, Immigration Director Johnny Marín told The Tico Times.

The complaint was sent via e-mail and includes dozens of names of predominantly North Americans who work in branches of well-known real estate offices without having the type of residency that allows them to work in the country.

To work legally in Costa Rica, foreigners must have permanent residency, which allows them to work without restrictions, or temporary residency plus a work permit granted by the Labor Ministry to work in a specific job,Marín explained. They can also have temporary residency as investors and work in the business in which they have invested.

While Marín said e-mail is not the correct way to file such allegations, he said the complaint has been transferred to the regional administration office in Guanacaste and in the “opportune moment” officials will conduct an inspection.

“An investigation must be done… to determine if what the complaint says is true or not,” he said.

When that investigation might happen depends on resources.

“Guanacaste is a very large region, and there are probably many people living and working there in irregular conditions. We have very limited resources and staff. Still, we do what we can with what we have,” Marín said.

The immigration director said it is “very normal” for the department to receive these complaints. However, he said he does not have statistics on how many complaints are filed every month or year.


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