Agriculture: Restrictions on Foreign Labor

The decision was made not to extend the decree that allows employers to regulate the immigration status of workers who come to Costa Rica to work in agricultural activities.

Friday, September 4, 2020

The decree concerned is No. 42406-MAG-MGP and establishes that employers in the agricultural sector may regularize the immigration status of foreigners who entered the country between January 15, 2016 and January 15, 2020.

Although the regulation sets September 22 as the deadline for agricultural companies to carry out the regularization procedures of their workers, employers anticipate difficulties, since there are crops that begin after the end of the decree's validity.

In this context, the authorities of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) notified the Federation of the Chamber of Cane Producers (Fedecana) and the National Chamber of Coffee Growers that the validity of the decree will not be extended.

See "Crops in Central America: Main Figures in 2018"

The specific situation that the country is facing due to the covid-19 and the fact that institutions are making various efforts to respond to the labor needs of the agricultural sector are the reasons why the authorities have not extended the validity of the decree.

The letter sent by the Minister of Agriculture, Renato Alvarado, to the business associations specifies that they are allowed to inform that "... there is no possibility of extending the Decree, the institutions will continue to support the procedure that is being carried out so that it is successful and mitigates in good measure, the needs that the agricultural sector has to cover the necessary labor for the 2020 crops."

Juan Rafael Lizano, president of the National Chamber of Agriculture and Agribusiness, told Elobservador.cr that "... the reform of the regularization decree, to fine from September, affects above all the crops that start the harvest after that month and that at this time do not have the number of workers needed."

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In Costa Rica, the deadline for employers to regularize the immigration status of workers who come to the country to work in agricultural activities was extended until October 22.

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