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      IMPORTANT - READ BEFORE POSTING to SUPPORT FORUM   01/28/2011

      Posts to this Support Forum are to be related ONLY to one's ARCR membership. Posts inappropriate to the Support Forum will be removed without comment. Please post all other types of questions to the appropriate Forum. Only Forums Moderators, Administrators and ARCR Employees ae able to make any replies to this ARCR Support Forum. Paul M. Forums Moderator ==
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Stoic

New to ARCR, moving to Costa Rica in 2017

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Epicatt2    0

STWoman,

 

Remind me, please, where you shipped from in the States. That info eludes me momentarily at this writing.

 

How did you get your items to Charlie in the US? Were you close enough to drive 'em to his warehouse in Port Manatee?

 

Or did you have to have them packed up where you were and shipped onwards to CR?

 

Paul M.

==

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We lived outside of Philadelphia. His contact in FL had the container delivered to our storage units. We had to hire local movers to load the truck. Then the driver drove our stuff to Newark where it was loaded onto a ship.

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Epicatt2    0

Okay, thank you for that info, STW. I knew Charlie had many contacts in the US with whom he could arrange transport.

 

What you say that he arranged for you sounds like it really helped simplify things a whole lot.

 

How nice that that part of the move was so well taken care for you!

 

Cheers!

 

Paul M.

==

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The only problems we had were with the tractor trailer driver. He got lost and couldn't find us, which was easily rectified. Then he didn't have a seal for the trailer, and then he left without giving us the paperwork. But we caught up with him and got the papers. He had told us he was semi-retired, but both my husband and I agreed that he should have been completely retired! It all worked out in the end. When our stuff was ready to be delivered to our house here, we weren't ready. The house wasn't finished. So, Charlie kept everything in his warehouse at no charge for about 10 extra days. And we were very happy with the delivery guys on this end.

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Re Perpetual Tourism. I thought it was not allowed to talk about it here. But since everyone else is talking about it I'll throw in my 4 colones.

All I know is that I know one guy who is still a PT and has been for over 10 years, owns a lot of property here and did business as a contractor and he has never had one problem.

I know another guy who I'm not sure if he is still a PT or not but he was for at least 12 years and he owned and operated a bed and breakfast at the beach and didn't have any employees, he did everything (all technically against the law) and he never had any problem. In fact the mayor of the local town knew everything about him and loved him.

So for whatever reason perpetual tourism could become prohibited at some point but of all the people I've known who did it (at least 10) none of them have ever had a problem. Except ONE person I heard about got a 30 day visa once instead of a 90 day one.

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Epicatt2    0

James, regarding PT-ism . . . not sure exactly why you brought it up in this thread at this late date. I hadn't noticed anyone else here who has mentioned it anytime recently. (But perhaps I missed something new in this topic.)

 

Anyway I would suggest that you read through our Forums Rules & Guidelines which are linked at the bottom right corner of every Forums page. (Note numbers 3 and 7.)

 

While PT-ism is not very often talked about on here it does get discussed occasionally.

 

What is not acceptable (per the Forums Rules & Guidelines) is promoting PT-ism in any way.

 

Regards,

 

Paul M.

Forums Moderator

==

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eleanorcr    0

Those of us who are long-time residents of Costa Rica have met Perpetual Tourists over the years, of course, but sometimes it's hard to tell! How do you actually find out that someone is a Perpetual Tourist? Are they so wound up in themselves that they brag about it? I know several people who I THINK MAY be Perpetual Tourists but who in the world would just out and out ask them?

 

It's kind of like telling your friends you cheat on your taxes. Duh. All it takes is for someone to take offense and things are off and running. For instance -- suppose you are a foreigner and decide to live here as a Perpetual Tourist and open your own business. You have competition in your business from local Costa Ricans. Perhaps they don't appreciate you and your business and so encourage authorities to check on the legality of said business.

 

As Ryan Piercy once said, "Perpetual tourism is not illegal..... but it's not legal." So... what are we to think?

 

Yes, Perpetual Tourists own houses, have lived here a long time, own and operate businesses, etc. But there's always the specter of deportation looming and there's always the specter of the "less than 90 days" visa upon returning to the country. For some people, living "on the edge" works OK for them. For others, always worrying about their status would ruin the pleasure of living in Costa Rica.

 

It's no secret that Migración is starting to look at arriving tourists who have a pattern of leaving the country every 90 days over a long period of time. When you arrive at Passport Control, the agent there is "king." He/she decides whether to admit you into the country and how much time you will have on your tourist visa. So just because someone has successfully been a Perpetual Tourist for years, doesn't mean it will continue.

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Derrick102    0

Yet if you stay as a tourist for 20 years, they make you eligible for citizenship. I know of no other activity that is not illegal, but not legal! Chinese law? People often assume a tourist is doing something illegal.

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eleanorcr    0

"...People often assume a tourist is doing something illegal...." By this statement, Derrick102, I am assuming that you mean - "people often assume a tourist who has lived in Costa Rica a long time is doing something illegal." Perhaps, I don't really know what "people assume." Maybe you're right. I do think that a lot of people think that Perpetual Tourism is illegal. Which it isn't.... maybe.... or ?

 

As I said, I don't go around asking people about their residency/tourist/citizenship status. But I suppose that if one has told people that they are a Perpetual Tourist and then operates a business, then people would think that that person is doing something illegal. And they would be right.

 

Probably the biggest group of Perpetual Tourists are those who are not old enough to have a pension and don't have a convenient $60,000 to put in a bank. They just come here and live. I think this is probably true of a lot of young people who come and live here mostly for the experience. And mostly work illegally. And after a while, they leave, not intending for Costa Rica to be a "forever home" but just an experience.

 

One of the gray areas to me is people who apply for residency and work during the time their residency is in process. I have no idea what that would mean to the employee and the employer. An employer who hires an "illegal" can be fined up to 12 months worth of the worker's salary. An illegal worker can be deported. But if the employee has applied for residency, does that make any difference?

 

And it's probably tempting for those who have paid for and gone through the process of legal residency to "look down" on those Perpetual Tourists. Or maybe they are envious! lol.....

 

There are very few countries in the world where you can just go and live and legally work as a tourist. There are exceptions, of course, but many of the countries where this is possible are not all that desirable places to live.

 

I think that the government would just like to know who exactly is living in the country. How many news stories have we read about someone from the US (or other countries...) who has escaped the law in their home country and now living comfortably in Costa Rica. And yes, some of these were legal residents. But as the vetting process for Migración gets more sophisticated, these criminals should be weeded out and either not allowed in the country or deported. But if Migración doesn't know they exist, then it's difficult if not impossible.

 

If I look into my crystal ball, I don't see the government making Perpetual Tourism illegal, per se, but perhaps just tightening up with giving out fewer days on a tourist visa for those who are obviously PTs. Obviously, my crystal ball has no special powers! ;)

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induna    0

So, I am going to go where angels fear to tread, and take on the legal issues surrounding Perpetual Tourism based on my, by now pretty intimate, familiarity with immigration law and regulation.

 

First of all, talking about whether PT is legal, illegal, or somewhere in between is, IMHO, nonsensical because Perpetual Tourism does not exist in Costa Rican law. If you are in Costa Rica you are either legal or illegal. Those who are illegal have crossed the border covertly, over-stayed their visas, used false documentation to obtain entry, etc. Those who are here legally are residents of various flavors, refugees, tourists, diplomats, etc. There is no category of person in Costa Rica called a 'Perpetual Tourist', or anything remotely similar. Neither is there anything in the law that differentiates between a tourist that has only entered the country once and one who has entered 100 times.

 

So, the key question is what are the legal differences between a Resident and a Tourist? Obviously there are many differences; residents can join the CAJA, do business more easily is some circumstances, generally move money more easily, get a driver's license, don't need to carry a passport, can obtain residency for family members, parents and spouses, etc. In addition some residents can work legally. Tourists also have rights. They have full protection under Costa Rican law, they can now open bank accounts (as in the past), they can drive for three months, and travel freely, etc. However, there is one key difference between Residents and Tourists that is very relevant to this discussion -- Residents maintain their rights within Costa Rica even when they leave the country. Tourists do not. When a tourist crosses the border to Panamá, Nicaragua, or points farther North, they no longer have any rights or legal standing in Costa Rica. This is true whether or not they own property, run a business, are a Saint, etc. Once they leave and cease to be a tourist, they loose all legal status. The only way a person that was a tourist in Costa Rica can regain that legal status is to re-enter the country and have their visa approved -- their passport stamped for citizens of North America and Europe -- for a period of time up to 90 days. Until the Migración officer stamps their passport and admits them into Costa Rica as a tourist, they have no legal existence or rights in Costa Rica (other than the rights that all transient persons who have not passed through Migración have). Residents, on the other hand, maintain their status no matter where they are in the world, and cannot be denied entry into the country as long as they have maintained their residency in good standing, and have followed the laws. Residents also maintain legal rights within Costa Rica at all times, and their residency cannot be cancelled without due process and right of access to the courts.

 

What are the practical consequences of this legal status, or lack thereof? Simply put, a person requesting to be admitted as a tourist can be denied entry, or given a visa of a reduced duration any time they try to enter the country. The law is clear in so far as the decision whether to admit a person as a tourist, and for how long, is solely the decision of the Migración officer at the entry point. By extension, since the law says absolutely nothing about how many times a year, or for how long in total, a person may be admitted to Costa Rica as a tourist, although it does stipulate the maximum amount of time they can stay per entry, the criteria that determine whether and for how long a person is admitted are simply a matter of Policy and not Law. Although the Law is cumbersome and difficult to change, Policy is not. Legally Migración could decide at any time and for any reason to limit the number of 90 day stays in country per year to 2, for example. The only legal option a person in the country as a tourist, or a non-resident out of the country, would have in such an event would be to apply for residency. One directive from the Executive branch is all it would take, and those who have been living here as tourists would have no option other than to obtain residency if they wish to continue to live in Costa Rica year round. Owning property or a business, or being a Saint, confers no right to either entry or the an allotted time to stay.

 

I do not believe that Costa Rica is going to change their policies with respect to tourists any time soon. However it is very likely that immigration will be an issue in the upcoming presidential and congressional elections. How much of an issue, and how it will be framed, has yet to be seen. One, high-profile and particularly sensational crime by a person who has been living here as a tourist (and thus has not been subjected to a police background check) might be all it takes to create a groundswell of support for 'cracking down' on people living here as tourists. I don't think this will happen, but those who want to live here for an extended period of time and put down some roots might wish to consider the possibility. Those who have significant investments here might want to think about the extra risks they are assuming by not being residents.

 

I feel that there are many other important, and perhaps less tangible, reasons for becoming a resident if one is actually living here, but I tried to restrict myself to the potential legal and economic consequences in this post.

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induna    0

Thanks for making my point. Assume they are criminals.

Well, I suppose that was one way to read Eleanor's post... But I really don't think that was what she was trying to say at all. The fact that tourists are subjected to less legal scrutiny than residents is just a fact. Some people who are living here as a tourists are on the lam, fact. Some folks here as residents are almost surely running away from something as well, but they do have to provide a criminal background check of some type and submit their fingerprints to Interpol. I don't assume that anyone is a criminal. Almost all the people I know who don't have legal residency or citizenship don't because they can't qualify or have been misinformed about their options or about the process.

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eleanorcr    0

Thank you, induna, for your usual clear writing about the law.

 

Possibly the most important point of your post is that there is policy and there is law. Policy can change things quickly and I think this is what we have seen with Migración border agents granting fewer visa days for some people who have a history of leaving the country every 90 days. I also want to emphasize your point (and my point) that the border agent has the power to make decisions and there really is no recourse.

 

Of course, the point about tourists not having legal standing when they leave the country could cause some consequences for anyone who owns a business as a tourist. But there is a category that might be called "legal but working illegally" that is a whole other thing and probably brings in another government agency.

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induna    0

Sure, you can have legal status in the country, as a pensionado or a tourist for example, and then do something your status forbids, like work. In either case you can be fined and deported if you are a tourist, or fined and have your residency cancelled if you are a resident.

 

I have a neighbor who is a business owner who came here with his parents 20 years ago. He does not have Residency. He was caught working in his business. He was fined a lot and was told if he is caught again they will kick him out. He doesn't work anymore.

 

On the issue of working while waiting for approval of residency, to me that is also clearly illegal. After submitting an application one is allowed to remain in the country as a tourist until the application is resolved. Tourists cannot work for pay. There may be an argument if one is applying as a spouse of a citizen, or as the parent of a citizen, and must work to maintain a family with children. My feeling is that even though this is still illegal, if everything else is kosher, one would probably not be deported under those conditions. Family is one of the keystones of Costa Rican migration law, and the physical well-being of children trump's almost everything.

Edited by induna

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When we went to the immigration office for our final appointment, another young man was there, represented by the same lawyer., and told us his story which the lawyer confirmed.

He had been married to a Tica for 5 years and they had two children but was slow in applying for residency and was still going through the progress. He owned (and still does) a popular surfing business and had a large staff. One night, the man who usually locked up, was vomiting in the bathroom :wacko: so the owner continued cleaning and locking up, when the immigration police barged in, putting him in handcuffs, taking him to the local police office for 'working' while not a legal resident. He phoned our lawyers brother who lived in near him, in the beach town, and and he was released the next day, when they presented a copy of his comprobante

 

So, yes, it does really happen and have heard of others.

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