Costa Rica Changes Their Immigration Model
Several Caribbean countries offer residency in exchange for good police records and proof that you will be contributing to the local economy. An acceptable proof in some cases is a guaranteed monthly income ie a pension income or other guaranteed income.
Costa Rica is one of these countries. However, on March 1st 2010 they will be changing their immigration model, and the minimum income that was set at US$600 per month to qualify for the ‘pensionada’ residency status will be increased to US$1000. There is also a 250% increase on the minimum for the ‘rentista’ residency – which will be increasing from US$1000 per month to US$2500.
Apparently this is due to the inflating numbers of migrants coming into Costa Rica from El Savador, Nicaragua, USA and Canada. Costa Rica has one of the highest levels of migrants with 1 in 10 of the population being from another land.
Costa Rica now feels that it has to get a hold on it’s immigration situation and has started to add new residency stickers to the passports of 16,000 people who are entitled to stay in Costa Rica. There will also be more focus on investigating new marriages to understand whether they are based on love or passport acquisition. All legal migrants will also be expected to give a contribution to the national social security. The two residential statuses above do not allow migrants to be employed for work in Costa Rica but it will allow them to start their own business which can include rental income from properties. The residents who already have their papers, will not be expected to suddenly come up with a much larger income though.
Some pensioners can still afford the US$1000 limit, but it will stop some others from being able to live in the country and they could look towards Panama and other countries where a lower level of income is accepted.
Rumor has it that the government of Belize, whose current policy for retirees is an income of US$2000 per month, will shortly be upping their ante too. They have almost reached their self imposed limit of 20,000 new residents. Read about Belize’s Retirement Program here.
Small countries need to protect their resources for their own people, otherwise resources and the demand for them can get out of balance. But it also makes me wonder if one day, these small countries will completely close their doors to newcomers unless they qualify through marriage or employment – as the bigger countries usually insist. If you do want to move to a Caribbean country, it might be worth getting your foot in the door ahead of the game.