Costa Rica is blessed with beautiful beaches, mountains and its biodiversity, and of course the friendliness of its people. So falling in love with Costa Ricans is easy with the beauty of the Land of Pure Life. Costa Rican welcome foreign visitors and open their arms to new cultures.
Costa Rica has an Immigration Law with a special category for those who marry Costa Rican nationals, that includes same sex-couples. In order to apply, the marriage must be registered in the nation or a judge confirmes the civil union. Foreign spouses will need documents such as a birth certificate and background check, correctly apostilled/legalized. Once the application is submitted, the spouses need to schedule an interview with Immigration officials.
The marriage interview is done to prove the spousal relationship, it is critical for the approval of the temporary residence. During the interview the applicants must answer a series of questions and provide evidence such as photographs and the relationship’s dynamic as well. It is essential to highlight that fraud marriages are punishable by Costa Rican law.
Here are some challenges that applicants can encounter:
● Because of COVID-19, delays are expected during the analysis time of the authorities.
● Authorities can ask you some tough question if they think your marriage is not legitimate.
● Due to COVID-19 the Official Translator cannot be present in the interview, authorities have not provided an alternative to this process.
● If you get divorced or your Costa Rican spouse passes away, you will not be able to conclude the process or renew the Residency if you have already secured it.
After the application has been approved the applicant’s next step is to be registered with the Costa Rica Social Security and request to the DIMEX legalizing identification document for foreigners, under the new status.
Costa Rican Social Security (CCSS)
For Permanent or Temporary Residents, it is mandatory to be registered with the CCSS, however, in the marriage category, there are two options to proceed with this matter:
● If the Costa Rican spouse is registered and up to date with the CCSS, the foreign spouse can be added as their dependent.
● If the spouse is not registered in the CCSS, they can proceed with the registration through an income certification by a Certified Public Accountant. The CCSS monthly fee will be determined by the information provided in the certification.
After the applicant has been registered with the CCSS, they can request their local ID card (DIMEX, referred as the cedula which is the identification document for all nationals).
It is extremely important to be aware that the DIMEX under the marriage category will be valid only for 1 year, meaning that it will be required for the applicant to keep renewing every year. After 3 years of holding Temporary Residency, they can apply for Permanent Residency. And after 2 years of marriage and of living in Costa Rica for 730 days after the marriage, they can even apply for Citizenship. (Take into account that to renew your Temporary Residency based on Marriage, you must still be married).
One of the most popular benefits under this category, is that the applicant once registered with their DIMEX, will be allowed to work in Costa Rica legally. The process generally flows smoothly but with the delays that COVID can produce in these days.