Costa Rica to process residency applications for foreign professionals more quickly

August 28, 2009

A new method for processing residency requests is expected to slice the wait time by a third and create greater fluidity in legalizing professional immigrants.

A four-step process that takes upwards of 15 days will be cut down to two steps, requiring fewer than 10 days and allowing all paperwork to be processed over the Internet, according to a news release from the Economy Ministry.

“The initiative complements a government commitment to eliminate unnecessary and highly bureaucratic procedures and improve competitive conditions in the country,” said Jorge Woodbridge, minister for competitiveness. “(It will) benefit the climate of investment – both domestic and foreign – and ensure better opportunities and employment for Costa Ricans.”

The new digital system will be used with residency applications for scientists, technical support personnel, professionals and managers, as well as their spouses and children.

For Alejandro Rodríguez, a lawyer who processes residency applications on behalf of Sony Ericsson, the new system converts a “very difficult, very bothersome, very complicated system” into a “more efficient, more convenient” one.

“Historically, it was a challenge because Costa Rica receives many applications for residency,” he said. “Now we can submit a residency request at any time during the day … and we can file the paperwork two to three months before an employee arrives in the country.”

Approximately 58 companies have been preapproved for the digital system, with a pilot phase beginning Sept. 1.

“This new system represents improvements in care and services to users, offering a greater number of tools to facilitate and expedite immigration services throughout the country,” said Mario Zamora, general director of immigration. He said the simplification promotes foreign investment and retention of transnational corporations.

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