Nicaragua is quickly becoming the favorite choice for expat living in Central America. Considering Nicaragua’s reputation for safety and affordability, it is no wonder why. Residency is a major step when making the move. Here are ten things to know about going through Nicaragua’s residency process.
1. Have patience.
This one is a given and that is why it is the first one on the list. The residency process takes months and getting all the right documents in and on time can be frustrating. Have patience. You will need it.
2. The immigration office isn’t always helpful
But there are two things to keep in mind. First is that they answer the same questions day in and day out and you can imagine they get a little bored with it after a while. The second is that are a branch of the military and curt is their style. Try to dress well, be polite and understand that this is the 100th time they have answered your question today.
3. Your medical condition won’t keep you from getting approved
Some people come to Nicaragua to live out their last days. So your physical wasn’t as good as it was ten years ago? That’s okay, more than anything the Nica authorities just want to know what your condition is.
4. Your medical condition will go on a list
That’s if you have a serious infectious condition like HIV or Tuberculosis. The Ministry of Health (MINSA) will interview you and that info gets put into a file and your name on a list.
5. You need to have been married for a minimum of 2 years
For those who married into the country (foreigner with a Nica wife or husband), two years is considered a minimum to show that you are in a stable relationship. However this does not necessarily mean you have to have been married by law. Even two years of being together, aka defacto marriage, will work.
6. If you have Nica kids, they usually won’t deny you
This country is very family-oriented. Even if you don’t meet other requirements, if you have your child’s Nicaraguan birth certificate and that has you as a parent, your residency is basically green-lighted.
7. You can still get deported
So don’t run for political office, take part in protests against the government or do anything that might possibly be considered a threat to the state. Trust me, immigration jail is no fun.
8. You don’t need a worker’s category of residency to work
There is a special visa for foreign workers of NGOs or religious organizations called a “Courtesy Visa” which is free, allows you to work for one year and can be renewed unlimited times. Your organization will need to talk to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX) to get authorization.
9. A lawyer isn’t necessary to get residency
Nowhere in the requirements for getting residency does it say you need a lawyer. It does say you will need papers stamped by a public notary, which is a status that all lawyers have, but not all public notaries are lawyers.
10. A lawyer is very helpful to get residency
You will definitely need to have papers stamped and quite possibly drawn up depending on the category of residency you are working on. There are hurdles, hoops and obstacles to jump over and, if your legal Spanish might be a little weak, a lawyer with experience in residency matters can go a long way to help.
Bonus: Nicaragua wants you to become a resident
That’s right. The law 694 was drafted to promote residency for retirees. It says, “Considering…That the benefit that our country would get from an immigration of this sector (retirees) would be very relevant and this requires the implementation of a law that allows and makes possible the attraction of the permanent income of these type of people, granting them incentives and tax benefits similar to those offered in other countries in the region.”
It says a lot more good things about retirees and why Nicaragua should make them residents, but this is just to give you an idea.
The residency process can seem like a complicated affair but there are some good resources out there to help you out. These ten things are a good start for anyone thinking about making the move.
Casey Callais has been a resident since 2014 and just finished the new Guide to Getting Residency in Nicaragua, available soon through Amazon or his website, NicaConexiones.com.