As of May 11, 2015, Costa Rica´s Department of Immigration has made it a requirement to request an appointment before filing immigration-related applications in their offices. Appointment requests must be presented by email on Fridays between the hours of 8:00am and 3:00pm, with the appointments expected to be scheduled during the following three or four weeks.

Previously, it was necessary to appear in person at the Department of Immigration and take a number in order to take care of individual paperwork. A maximum of only ten numbers were given out each day, and in general an applicant had to arrive a minimum of two hours before the office opened to be assured of getting a number. If it was impossible to get a number that day, it was necessary to return the following day and once again try to get a number. Once a number was secured, the corresponding paperwork could be taken care of within the following 24 to 48 hours.

This new requirement will affect foreigners who need to obtain or renew their work or residence visa, companies that wish to register with the Department of Immigration as a recognized company or renew their registration, and any person or company that needs to take care of whatever type of formality with the Department of Immigration.

The authorities expect to be able to respond to requests within one working day, with a confirmation of the appointment coming within the following three to four weeks, depending on the workload of the Department of Immigration.

This process will simplify getting appointments and the response time in the Department of Immigration office in Costa Rica, but with appointment requests limited to only Fridays, delays can be expected in the beginning. In addition, if the Department of Immigration receives a large number of requests, the availability of immediate appointments may be limited. For optimum coordination, people will be required to request an appointment only once they have gathered together all the requirements for their particular process.

It will be important to plan in advance for any type of renewal, taking into account that this process should be started at least two months before immigration documents expire, and to be aware that the possibility of delays in presenting applications for permits and identification cards exists.

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