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Costa Rica – Recognition of Immigration Rights for Same-Sex Couples
Publications || 2019 || Costa Rica – Recognition of Immigration Rights for Same-Sex Couples

Costa Rica – Recognition of Immigration Rights for Same-Sex Couples

by charbds, 22 April, 2019


April 22, 2019
José Joaquín Acuña / jacuna@bdsasesores.com
Partner BDS Costa Rica


On January 9, 2018, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) responded to a consultation opinion requested by the Government, in which said Court states that there the Government must safeguard “the access to any and all rights already existing in the local legal frameworks, including the right to marriage, to ensure the protection of all rights for families consisting of same-sex couples.”

On the other hand, in August 2018 the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice established that the Costa Rican government had an 18-month period to adjust local regulations consistently with the provisions of the IACHR.

Based on this, the General Immigration and Foreigners Agency took action on this matter and issued Decrees 41329-MGP and 41337-MGP, which have recognized the immigration rights of same-sex couples and the sexual identity and gender for foreign individuals in their Immigration Identity Document for Foreign Individuals (DIMEX), respectively.

This not only represents a progress in terms of equality, but also modifies certain labor aspects which must be taken into consideration.

As a result of these regulations, foreign individuals may be able to acknowledge same-sex marriages or any civil unions which have been duly formalized according to the local regulations of any other country; the foregoing is extremely important, as an apostilled version of the document issued by the competent authority must be provided.

Said change also applies to foreign individuals who have already been granted residence in the country, as their corresponding partner may opt for applying to the dependent residence category.

These new provisions benefit foreign individuals in same-sex unions who are either willing to work for a Costa Rican company or already have a job offer and have doubts about whether they are allowed to accept or not said offer, given that there was no migratory status enabling them to be relocated to Costa Rica with their partners.  Now, they may opt to apply for the dependent residence category in order to keep their family union.

As for the Regulation on Sexual and Gender Identity for Foreign Individuals in the DIMEX, this instrument allows to request changes in the individual’s name, image, and gender displayed in their immigration identity document.

Foreign individuals should also provide a valid document from their country of origin evidencing said changes, and also fill out the relevant form.  As soon as this request has been assessed, the General Immigration and Foreigners Agency will issue the relevant decision authorizing the printing of a new DIMEX document in accordance with the new data provided by the requesting party.

This new DIMEX document will allow people to live in the country using information that is consistent with that of their country of origin.  This is also important for labor purposes, as people who have undergone this process may also submit this identity document which must be taken into consideration for purposes of any employment relationship.

Given the relevance of these changes, foreign individuals and employers should be well informed and obtain advice concerning these changes for purposes of making the best possible decisions about these issues.

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