Information on possibility of exit and return of refugees residing in Costa Rica further to Responses to Information Requests Nos. CRI8120 and CRI9669, and the meaning of the term "status refugees" used in those responses [CRI10342]

According to the Consul General of Costa Rica in Ottawa, the terms "status refugee" and "Convention refugee" may be used generally in Costa Rica to describe those who have been granted refugee status (14 Apr. 1992). The individual refugees would normally be classified by authorities in more detail by country of origin, problems faced, etc. (Ibid.). The Consul General stated that refugees are sometimes required to sign a release form renouncing their status as refugees in order to acquire a travel document for exiting the country. There are, however, different travel documents and conditions for exit and return which would depend on the particulars of the case (Ibid.). Usually, a refugee who remains outside Costa Rica for more than six months loses his/her refugee status and has to reapply, which means going through the determination procedure again (Ibid.). The Consul General offered to assist in the determination of the rights granted by a particular Costa Rican travel document or visa. For this purpose, more details than those provided in your request would be required, including perhaps a sanitized photocopy of a passport or parts of it.

A Protection Officer at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Costa Rica indicated that the term "status refugee" may have been used generally to describe a person who had been granted refugee status by the Costa Rican government (14 Apr. 1992). Such a person should actually be called a "Convention refugee" (Ibid.). The Officer added that people who claim but are not granted refugee status by the government could become "mandate refugees" or refugees under UNHCR mandate ("refugiado bajo mandato del ACNUR" in Spanish). The refugees under UNHCR mandate cannot obtain travel documents from the government, although they are under the protection of the UNHCR, which includes financial assistance, protection against refoulement and help in repatriating (Ibid.).


Consulate General of Costa Rica, Ottawa. 14 April 1992. Telephone Interview with Consulate General.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), San José. 14 April 1992. Telephone Interview with Protection Officer.