Red tape for ESL teachers in Costa Rica

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The beautiful country of Costa Rica is a Central American country blessed with stunning landscapes and seascapes, and it is also said to be the most stable country in Latin America.

Given its geographical proximity to the USA, it will come as no surprise that it is a popular destination for both ESL teachers and tourists. Here is a brief guide about how to deal with red-tape if you are applying to teach in Costa Rica. As it concerns ESL teaching in Costa Rica, you need only satisfy two academic requirements: you are the holder of a TEFL certificate, and you are a native speaker.

Obtaining a work visa can involve quite a bit of red tape and is a relatively lengthy process; however, most ESL schools will hire ESL teachers who have entered the country on a tourist visa: this lasts for ninety days, but if you leave the country for seventy-two hours, you can return and renew your tourist visa for a further ninety days. You will find that schools will happily accommodate you: so you can leave the country for three days and then return to continue teaching.

Incidentally, if you are a UK citizen and living in the UK – you won’t need a tourist visa to visit Costa Rica. For more detailed information, you should visit http://costarica.embassyhomepage.com/. For those ESL teachers that feel they would be more secure in their teaching posts if they had a work visa then the following documents would be required: a birth certificate, a marriage certificate (if applicable), passport size photos, and your TEFL certificate.

You would be well advised to provide yourself with several photocopies of each document. You would also be required to provide proof that you are able to support yourself financially and that you have no unsettled financial commitments.  Furthermore, you would be required to obtain a certificate of good conduct from the Costa Rican police, and you would also be required to submit to a Costa Rican Ministry of Security check on your background.

These documents along with a statement of employment from your ESL school and a statement from the Costa Rican Social Security verifying that you are free of any financial obligations are then submitted to the Department of Immigration in the capital, San Jose. The resulting work visa is valid for six months from its date of issue, and it can be renewed by resubmitting it to the Department of Immigration; however, the work visa must also be approved by the Department of Work.

Finally, it should be borne in mind that it is common practice for most schools in Latin America to hire only those teachers that are in-country. As it concerns ESL teaching in Costa Rica, you need only satisfy two academic requirements: you are the holder of a TEFL certificate, and you are a native speaker. Obtaining a work visa can involve quite a bit of red tape and is a relatively lengthy process; however, most ESL schools will hire ESL teachers who have entered the country on a tourist visa: this lasts for ninety days, but if you leave the country for seventy-two hours, you can return and renew your tourist visa for a further ninety days. You will find that schools will happily accommodate you: so you can leave the country for three days and then return to continue teaching.

Incidentally, if you are a UK citizen and living in the UK – you won’t need a tourist visa to visit Costa Rica. For more detailed information, you should visit http://costarica.embassyhomepage.com/. For those ESL teachers that feel they would be more secure in their teaching posts if they had a work visa then the following documents would be required: a birth certificate, a marriage certificate (if applicable), passport size photos, and your TEFL certificate. You would be well advised to provide yourself with several photocopies of each document.

You would also be required to provide proof that you are able to support yourself financially and that you have no unsettled financial commitments.  Furthermore, you would be required to obtain a certificate of good conduct from the Costa Rican police, and you would also be required to submit to a Costa Rican Ministry of Security check on your background. These documents along with a statement of employment from your ESL school and a statement from the Costa Rican Social Security verifying that you are free of any financial obligations are then submitted to the Department of Immigration in the capital, San Jose.

The resulting work visa is valid for six months from its date of issue, and it can be renewed by resubmitting it to the Department of Immigration; however, the work visa must also be approved by the Department of Work. Finally, it should be borne in mind that it is common practice for most schools in Latin America to hire only those teachers that are in-country.

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