How to request refugee status

1) Submit your request:
You must apply for refugee status before the General Office of Immigration and Aliens (DGME), in the Refugee Sub-process , at its headquarters located in La Uruca, San Jose. You can also apply when entering the country, at airports, ports, or other border posts, and the application will be forwarded to the Refugee Sub-process. You must explain your intention for applying for refugee status in Costa Rica.

2) Complete the initial questionnaire:
You will be required to complete a form with information about your personal data, family data, and a detailed description on why you were forced to leave your country. This information should be as detailed as possible, indicating dates, places, events, among other things.

When submitting the completed questionnaire, you will be given the date on which you must return to the Refugee Sub-process so that you may be interviewed. In addition, you will be given a list of requirements that you must submit to continue with the process. These requirements must be submitted no later than the day of the interview.

3) You will receive a provisional document as an applicant for refugee status:
To activate the system and to complete the form, the Immigration Office will give you a provisional document that will credit you as an applicant for refugee status. With this document you will have a temporary legal stay in the country, while the authorities analyze your case. If you carry this document with you, you cannot be deported to the country where your life is in danger. This document is free and it will be provided to all persons, including children.

4) Submit the requirements to complete your immigration file:
To continue with the interview for the assessment of your case you must submit the following documents:

  • Four recent passport-size photographs.
  • Proof of fingerprinting from the police file (you will also have to carry passport-size photographs the day you your fingerprints are taken)*.
  • Personal identification document (passport, ID from your country, etc.)*.
  • Birth Certificate*.
  • Criminal record certificate issued in your country of origin*.
  • Marital status certificate issued in your country of origin*.

* If you cannot submit any of these documents, you can submit a legal document called “affidavit”, where you provide under oath your date of birth, criminal record (or lack thereof), and marital status. The ACAI can help you free of charge to make this affidavit.

5) Attend the interview:
You must attend the interview at the Refugee Sub-process on the date specified. The interview is one of the most important steps of the process and therefore you must prepare yourself for it.

All the information that you share during the interview will be handled confidentially. This means that the Refugee Sub-process will not share what you say in the interview with third parties, nor with authorities of your country of origin.

It is very important that you comment in a comprehensive and orderly manner on all the facts that led you to leave your country. At the end of the interview you must sign a transcript of it to attest that you provided your statement. Before signing, request the interviewer for permission to read the document in detail. If you think that your statement was not transcribed in full or that it includes mistakes, request the interviewer to amend it. You have the right to receive a copy of the transcript of your interview, and the interviewer is obliged to provide you with this document. You must save this copy until you complete the application process for refugee status.

Any person located in Costa Rican territory who has been forced to leave their country due to persecution, conflict, or gross violations of their human rights can apply for refugee status.

It is important to bear in mind that you must be in Costa Rica to apply for refugee status here; you cannot apply from abroad.