If I have suffered violence/persecution because I’m a lesbian, gay or trans (LGBTI) person, may I seek asylum?
Yes. In Costa Rica every person who has suffered persecution based on his/her sexual orientation and/or gender identity may seek asylum.
Where can I apply for refugee status?
You can apply for refugee status at any Costa Rican border (land border or at the airport) or before the Subsection for Refugees at the General Directorate for Migration and Immigration.
Who will determine if I am recognized as a refugee?
The decision is made by the Costa Rican authorities, specifically the Visas and Refugees Commission or the Administrative Migration Court.
If I’m granted refugee status, will my family be awarded that status as well?
Costa Rican laws respect the family unit. Therefore, if you are granted refugee status, your entire nuclear family will be granted refugee status as well, so long as they are within the first degree of consanguinity or affinity (minor children, spouses, elderly parents, among others).
If I am applying for refugee status, may I travel outside the country?
No. People applying for refugee status cannot travel outside of Costa Rica until a decision has been made about their asylum petition.
May refugees travel outside the country?
Yes. Refugees may travel, provided that they are not traveling to their country of origin where their lives are at risk. To travel, you must have a passport and an up-to-date refugee document, and you have to comply with the entry requirements of each country.
May I travel to my country of origin?
No. Refugees cannot travel to their country of origin. If they travel to their country of origin without prior authorization, they may lose their refugee status.
May refugees and individuals applying for refugee status work in this country?
Yes. Refugees have the full right to practice any type of work in this country with a sponsor or dependently. Those who are applying for refugee status can ask for a work permit at the Subsection for Refugees at the Migration Office if at least three months have passed since they have started the refugee status determination process.
What is the UNHCR and what is its role in supporting refugees and individuals applying for refugee status?
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is a specialized agency dedicated to assisting and protecting refugees. In Costa Rica, the UNHCR has offices in San Jose and a presence on the southern border in Ciudad Neily. It works alongside the Costa Rican government to offer technical assistance to protect the rights of refugees and implements programs and initiatives through NGOs that are partner agencies, such as ACAI and RET.