Foreign live-in lovers get right to reside in Costa Rica

November 21, 2008

Unmarried couples can now file for residency for their foreign partner in Costa Rica, just as a married couple would, following a recent Supreme Court decision.

The ruling, by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court (Sala IV), struck down Article 69 of Immigration Law 8487, which said “Civil unions do not offer any judicial migration effect whatsoever,” according to a court press release.

This meant that previously foreigners could not cite the fact their live-in partner is Costa Rican as a way to avoid deportation or to gain legal residency.

Sala IV, however, has now ruled the article “unconstitutional.”

“The concept of family should be understood in a broad sense, not only as a product of matrimony, which is why (Sala IV) declared it … unconstitutional and annulled the norm in question,” the court said.

The ruling, however, has raised concern in the government over the possibility of making it too easy to add customers to the underground industry that marries off foreigners for papers.

“Our fear is that these mafias that have focused on marriages by power of attorney will now focus on trafficking civil unions because the passing requirements are lower,” Immigration Director Mario Zamora said, according to newswire EFE.

“No (other) country gives immigration benefits based on civil unions because of the difficulty of verifying them,” he said.

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