San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Foreign Lovers Can Get Residency After All

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

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

This meant previously that foreigners could not claim their live-in partner’s Costa Rican nationality as a way to avoid deportation or to gain legal residency.

“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 perpetuating an 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.

–Alex Leff


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