Costa Rica Labor Law

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Work Permits

Costa Rica Labor Code on Work Permits

Work Permit

The Costa Rica Government is extremely protective of the country's labor force and laws prefer the hiring of local employees than foreigners. However, there is an established procedure for offering work permits to foreigners in specific cases. In some cases, requiring long-term residence in Costa Rica, a foreign employee is even facilitated in obtaining the immigrant status.

The important factor in deciding such cases is whether the establishment hiring the foreign labor is able to clearly show that the worker has a skill set that cannot be found in local employees. That is why foreigners intending to visit Costa Rica and then seek employment would face quite a challenge.

  • What Is A Work Permit In Costa Rica?

    The Costa Rica Government includes a 'work permit' in the 'Special Immigration Category'. It does not permit an employee to seek residence status or expect to obtain one. The work permit allows a foreign employee to stay in the country as long as the employment continues and the employment contract meets the requirements of the Costa Rica Labor Code.

    When Is A Work Permit Given?

    A work permit is only issued when the employer is able to clear show that the foreign employee has a skill set that the employer requires and would not be able to find with local employees. The Immigration Law - through Article 100 – defines specific occupations that allow employers to absorb foreign employees in their establishments. The regulations cover opportunities for both salaried workers and the self-employed.

  • Documents Required For Work Permit

    The Department of Immigration requires following documents before a work permit can be issued:

    The employer's letter giving reasons why the foreigner is suitable for a particular job and what services will the foreign employee would provide in Costa Rica

    Employer’s proof that they can afford to pay the foreign employee. This proof usually includes financial statements of income tax, business earnings, etc. The document has to be suitably certified by a competent authority

    Certified copy of the employee's passport, and birth certificate. These documents have to be authenticated by the Costa Rica Consulate in the country of the employee

    Fingerprinting process for the employee in Costa Rica. This is done as part of the application process and the fingerprinting has to take place in Costa Rica.

    If a foreign employee is required only for a specific project in Costa Rica, for example, when a Government contract has been awarded to a foreign company then Article 124 applies to the employees and it is slightly less complicated.

  • Work Permits With Permanent or Temporary Residence

    The latest Costa Rica laws distinguish between permanent and temporary residence for foreign employers. The permanent residence category has no restrictions but is usually granted only after an employee has maintained the temporary residence category for at least 3 years. Temporary residence category permits have several restrictions about where the foreign employee can work, change employer, etc.