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I already have my residence: can I leave the country and not come back?

Those foreigners whose residence is approved by the Immigration Authority (temporary or permanent) must abide by certain conditions in order not to lose their rights. In this blog we comment on one of these obligations: to remain in Costa Rica for a certain period of time.

How long should I stay in the country if I am a resident?

Our immigration legislation establishes the obligation of foreigners to remain in Costa Rican territory for certain periods of time. Permanent residents cannot be absent from the country for more than four consecutive years. Those with temporary residence cannot do so for more than two consecutive years. Finally, those persons with a special immigration status (“categoría especial”) are subject to a term of one year. The law recognizes that there are certain grounds such as medical reasons, for example, that do not imply a breach of that obligation. In addition, the calculation of this period is in consecutive periods, so the periods are interrupted if the person returns to the country.

What happens if I infringe that obligation?

Foreigners who exceed the periods of absence stipulated in the law may be subject to the cancellation of their immigration status. In these processes, the Authority must follow a due process, which implies notifying the foreign person of the possible cancellation of his/her status due to his/her absence, the right of the person to defend himself/herself and even to appeal a resolution that removes the right to which he/she is entitled.

At CELIG we provide specialized services to the LGBTQI+ community. If you want more information or make an appointment with us, call us at 2253-0256 or write to us at

We are located in San José, Barrio Escalante.

M.Sc. Ana Isabel Sibaja Rojas

CELIG – Center for Equal Litigation