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Country: Not Ready To Open Borders

August 13, 2004

FOR the time being, Costa Rica hasno plans to join a Central American agreementto simplify and reduce immigrationrequirements, the daily La Repúblicareported.Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras andNicaragua last week agreed to eliminatevisa requirements for citizens from 84 differentcountries, with the goal of attractingforeign investors and increasingtourism in the region.Costa Rican officials say the country’sreality – the constant arrival ofNicaraguan immigrants and, more recently,Colombians – makes it difficult for itto join this type of agreement.Costa Rican places countries in fourimmigration categories. The first category,which includes Canada, the United States,the European Union and Panama, does notrequire visas. Citizens from those countriesare allowed to stay in the country forup to 90 days.The second category, which includesall Central American countries exceptNicaragua, does not require visas. Thesecitizens are allowed to stay in the countryfor up to 30 days.The third category, which includesNicaragua, Colombia, DominicanRepublic and Egypt, requires a visa. Thefourth category is for residents of countriesconsidered “obstacles to nationalsecurity.” Decisions in this category,which includes most Arab nations, aremade on a case-by-case basis.According to Marco Badilla, directorof Immigration, visa requirements havehelped reduce the flow of Colombianimmigrants by 40% and Nicaraguanimmigrants by 6%.

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