Costa Rica characterizes itself as a country of immigration, with close to 9% of its population born abroad in 2013, the highest level in Latin America. Immigration flows show a growing trend; the number of permanent immigrants entering the country doubled between 2010 and 2013, while temporary immigrants increased by some 26% during the same period. At the same time, emigration of Costa Ricans shows a slightly decreasing trend, registering 4% fewer exit flows between 2009 and 2012.
The entry of Costa Rican emigrants into the European and United States labor markets shows some particular characteristics. The rate of participation of women is some 20 percentage points below that of men, and their employment rate approximately 25 percentage points below that of men. While employment for men was close to 79% in the periods 2010-11 and 2012-13, it remained much lower, at 54.5% and 59.5%, respectively, for women.
During the year 2013, 954 people applied for asylum in Costa Rica, most of them from Colombia, followed by El Salvador and Cuba, a figure 18% lower than that registered in 2012. Today Costa Rica has 12,749, refugees, mostly from Colombia.
The World Bank calculated that, in 2013, the immigrant population in the country generated 394 million dollars in remittance outflows. On the other hand, according to IDB data, the annual estimate of remittances entering Costa Rica was 561 million dollars .
With respect to the regulatory framework, an executive order was issued in 2012, specifying the regulatory framework for the 2010 General Immigration Law (“Ley General de Migración y Extranjería”) These immigration regulations (“Reglamento de Extranjería”) established the requirements which foreigners must satisfy for residency or legal stay in the country, according to the different migratory categories.
In August 2013, the National Council on Migration approved a comprehensive immigration policy (“Política Migratoria Integral”) for the period 2013-2023. This policy spells out the conceptual framework and steps to be followed by public institutions and civil society to achieve the integration of immigrants into Costa Rican society.
The main objectives are:
To improve migration services processes by simplifying procedures, establishing interagency coordination and creating mechanisms to ensure access to these services by all migrants in order to improve migratory regularization levels and assistance to migrants, in general.
To promote better employment conditions and respect for migrants and refugee labor rights through informative campaigns on labor rights, through offering training at the technical and professional level regardless of their immigration status, and through strengthening labor inspection and the application of sanctions to employers, among others.
To facilitate access to health care for migrants and refugees through informative campaigns on social welfare and training programs on access to health care services for employees, employers and workers, among others, in order to increase health services coverage for migrants.
To promote migrants and refugees’ access to the Costa Rican education system at all levels and modalities of public education, by raising awareness among school leaders and teachers about, discrimination and xenophobia, and by simplifying certification of qualifications procedures. among others.
According to the Reports on Migration and Integration of the General Directorate of Migration (2011 and 2012), Costa Rica has implemented the following integration programs for immigrants: (1) Neighbours Programme (“Programa entre Vecinos”), which seeks to introduce immigrants on the boards of development associations and to use arts and recreation as a means of sensitizing local populations to immigration; (2) Routes for Integration Programme (“Programa Rutas de Integración”), which has developed a “tool box” to aid non-governmental organizations that work with migrant and refugee populations as well as public officials in navigating through migration red tape and in providing aid and assistance to immigrants with regard to public programs in the areas of education, employment and health.
Additionally, immigrants can also access programs for national citizens, as it is the case of the educational scholarship program "Avancemos".
Recent trends in migrant’s flows and stocks and in labor market outcomes of emigrants
|Migration inflows (foreign nationals)||Persons||Per 1000 inhabitants||Percent change|
|Permanent migration inflows (foreign nationals) by type||Persons||% distribution|
|Temporary migration inflows (foreign nationals) by type||Persons||% distribution|
|Migration outflows (nationals)||Persons||% of total||% change|
|From unstandardised destination country data||2009||2010||2011||2012||2012||2012/2009|
|Asylum seekers and refugees||Per million inhabitants||Number of persons|
|Inflows of asylum seekers||212.20556745182||203.47511862346||243.48140957007||195.80613632623||213.74205799289||954|
|Refugees resident in the country||4176.6595289079||4233.5066952601||4255.5139694857||4221.7362873104||4221.8541202411||20569|
|Components of population growth||Per 1000 inhabitants|
|Foreign-born population||Percentage of the total population||Persons||% change|
|Remittances||Millions of dollars||% of GDP||% change|
|Macroeconomic indicators||Annual growth in %||Average annual growth||Level|
|GDP/per capita ((PPP ) in constant 2011 international dollars)||3.4||3||3.7370431497751||2.1||3||13431|
|Labour market outcomes of emigrants in Europe and the United States||Percentages|