Government Implementing New Immigration Law in 2012
In January 2012, the Dominican Republic will begin to implement its new immigration law. Over the coming months, new eligibility criteria and application procedures will be introduced for temporary work and permanent visa categories, with full implementation of the law expected to occur after presidential elections in May 2012.
A new medical examination and insurance requirement will take effect for temporary residents on January 2. Other changes – including a longer period of stay for business visitors and a new visa requirement for foreign assignees who will apply for a temporary residence permit after arrival – will be implemented over the coming months.
Medical Requirements for Temporary Residents Take Effect January 2
Beginning January 2, first-time applicants for temporary residence will be required to have a medical insurance policy from a government-approved insurance company. Foreign nationals renewing their temporary status will be required to undergo a medical exam and must submit an original medical report with their application.
Other New Requirements Expected to Take Effect in the Coming Months
The following new procedures and requirements are expected to take effect in the coming months, though exact implementation dates are not yet known.
New visa requirement for in-country temporary residence applicants. In the future, foreign assignees who plan to file for a temporary residence permit after arriving in the Dominican Republic will be required to obtain a residence visa from a Dominican Consulate abroad before entry. This new rule will apply to all prospective temporary residents, including foreign nationals who are otherwise visa-exempt. Currently, nationals of visa-exempt countries can enter as business visitors and change status in-country without securing a consular business visa in advance.
Changes to temporary residence renewals. Under current law, a temporary residence permit is valid for one year and cannot be renewed, but can be converted into a permanent residence permit before expiration. Under the new law, the temporary residence permit will be valid for one year and will be renewable. After the fourth renewal, the foreign national will be eligible for permanent residence. The Director of Immigration will have the discretion to allow a foreign national to apply for permanent residence before the fourth renewal if he or she can demonstrate extraordinary professional, scientific or technical expertise.
Changes to first-time permanent residence applications and renewals. First-time applicants for permanent residence will be required to undergo a medical exam and provide duly legalized marriage and birth certificates for dependent applicants. Permanent residence is currently valid for two years and may be renewed for subsequent two-year periods. Under the new law, permanent residence will be granted for an initial period of one year. After the first renewal, permanent residence will be renewed every four years.
New short-term work permit. Individuals and groups of foreign nationals will be able to apply for a short-term work permit valid for up to one year of employment. Foreign nationals will need to obtain a short-term work visa at a Dominican Consulate abroad and then apply for the short-term work permit after arriving in the Dominican Republic. Applicants will be required to undergo a medical exam, and their local employers will be required to provide a sponsor letter, a contract signed between the employee and the local employer and a repatriation deposit.
Increased period of stay and new document requirements for business visitors and tourists. The new law increases the admission period for business visitors and tourists to 60 days, up from the current 30-day limit. Extensions of up to 60 days are available, provided the foreign national undergoes a medical exam and shows confirmed travel reservations or other proof of final departure from the Dominican Republic.
New travel restrictions for foreign nationals. Visa nationals who have a pending application for a temporary or permanent residence permit will need to request a re-entry permit before traveling outside the Dominican Republic. All temporary or permanent residents, regardless of nationality, will be limited to a maximum of six-month stay abroad during their period of residence in the Dominican Republic, unless they can show extraordinary circumstances and receive approval from immigration authorities.
Employers should take the forthcoming changes into account when planning assignments to the Dominican Republic over the coming months. Fragomen is closely monitoring the implementation of the new rules and will provide updates as developments occur.