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Costa Rica

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

 

Costa Rica
Migration inflows (foreign nationals) Persons Per 1000 inhabitants Percent change
  2010 2011 2012 2013 2013 2013/2010
Permanent 8394 8944 10551 16505 3.3876103564616 96.628544198237
Temporary 5470 7393 6445 6882 1.4125134488439 25.81352833638
Permanent migration inflows (foreign nationals) by type Persons   % distribution      
  2011 2013 2011 2013    
Humanitarian 235 114 2.6274597495528 0.69069978794305    
Work 95 78 1.0621645796064 0.47258406543472    
Other 814 264 9.1010733452594 1.5995152983944    
Unknown 7800 16049 87.209302325581 97.237200848228    
Total 8944 16505 100 100    
Temporary migration inflows (foreign nationals) by type Persons   % distribution      
  2011 2013 2011 2013    
Family 99 2 1.339104558366 0.0290613193839    
Study 1745 1435 23.603408629785 20.851496657948    
Work 2480 2215 33.545245502502 32.185411217669    
Unknown 3069 3230 41.512241309347 46.934030804999    
Total 7393 6882 100 100    
Migration outflows (nationals) Persons       % of total % change
            outflows
From unstandardised destination country data 2009 2010 2011 2012 2012 2012/2009
All countries 6606 6527 6463 6342 100 -3.9963669391462
United States 4554 4270 4170 4110 64.80605487228 -9.7496706192358
Mexico 364 396 408 398 6.2756228319142 9.3406593406593
Spain 370 378 450 391 6.165247555976 5.6756756756757
Canada 415 350 325 380 5.9918006937874 -8.433734939759
Asylum seekers and refugees Per million inhabitants         Number of persons
          Average 2010-2013  
  2010 2011 2012 2013   2013
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          
  1985-1990 1990-1995 1995-2000 2000-2005 2005-2010  
Total 26.34 24.41 24.4 18.95 15.56  
Natural increase 24.573 20.576 17.488 14.864 12.19  
Net migration 1.767 3.834 6.912 4.086 3.37  
Foreign-born population Percentage of the total population       Persons % change
          (thousands)  
  1990 2000 2010 2013 2013 2013/2010
  13.565732709966 7.9129415093898 8.6816134278865 8.6116113449336 419.572 -0.80632573120518
Remittances Millions of dollars       % of GDP % change
  2010 2011 2012 2013 2013 2013/2010
  509 530 579 561 1.4 10.216110019646
Macroeconomic indicators Annual growth in %       Average annual growth Level
  2010 2011 2012 2013 2010-2013 2013
Real GDP 4.9543212093984 4.5102205398167 5.1338519300008 3.4972883502901 4.5239205073765 -
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          
  Men   Women   Total  
  2010-11 2012-13 2010-11 2012-13 2010-11 2012-13
Participation rate 86.58459 86.20119 65.0703 65.61065 75.45535 74.8356
Employment rate 78.89817 78.64876 54.53722 59.54585 66.29636 68.10432
Unemployment rate nr nr nr nr 12.13829 nr