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Guide to Living and Teaching in Costa Rica

September 24, 2013

Getting a visa

Getting a work visa in Costa Rica is incredibly difficult. American schools are essentially the only institutions that will go through the process of helping teacher obtain a visa. As mentioned elsewhere, those positions are few and far between.

There are two main reasons institutes refuse to go through the process. The first is that it’s very expensive to sponsor a teacher for legal status, and the second is that the return on that financial investment is not often worth the risk. For most, Costa Rica is a destination to gain experience before moving on to other, more lucrative locations. The visa process is lengthy and expensive for schools. If a teacher is only going to be in Costa Rica for 6 months to a year there is minimal point in them going through that process.

The result is that the majority of instructors are forced to leave the country every 90 days – for 72 hours - to renew their tourist visas. This is extremely common and EFL instructors in Costa Rica are often given a free pass in this regard as they are providing a service to the country’s populace that most Costa Rican’s cannot provide to the same standard. Panama and Nicaragua, Costa Rica’s neighbours, are the most common destinations for ‘visa runs.’

Residency in Costa Rica can be obtained through marriage, the birth of a child, or making a sizable financial investment to apply for an investor’s visa.


The ELT News guide to living and teaching English in Costa Rica was compiled by Andrew Woodbury.



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