Prior to the coming into effect of the new Immigration Law, in the month of August, 2006, Immigration Law Regulation #7033, provided for a minimum annual requirement of four months physical residency in Costa Rica, in order to maintain a party’s Residency status. The four month physical residency requirement, was constituted by a cumulative time of four months, during the annual residency period, for any given Resident, and did not have to be consecutive.
Following the implementation of the new Immigration Law, in August, 2006, the physical residency requirement has been changed to require that a Resident not be absent from Costa Rica, for a period greater than six months, in any annual Residency period, in order to maintain their Residency status.
The question is, does this new physical residency time period apply to Residents, who were granted Residency under the old Immigration Law? The best and most secure answer would appear to be “yes”, it does. The actual act for which the time period applies to, is to the renewal of the Residency, which is applied for annually, and not to the initial obtaining of the Residency category.
Although an argument would exist under article 34 of the Costa Rica Constitution, against such a stipulation being made retroactive, as applying to parties who were granted a Residency category status under the old Immigration Law, this would be a risky position to take, should a judicial finding favor the new Immigration Law as applying to the renewal of the Residency status, and not preserve the rights of the Residency category, that existed as at the date of the party’s application for such status.