Poverty rate:


out of the total population


  • Sending country: around 151,000 Costa Ricans, or 3% of the population, reside abroad mainly in the US (66%), Nicaragua (7.5%), and Panama (5.5%). 

  • Destination country: around 420.000 immigrants, or 8.32% of the total population, live in Costa Rica. The main countries of origin are Nicaragua (71%), Colombia (5%), USA (4.12%); and El Salvador (3.4%).

  • Transit country: migrants from Caribbean, South American, Asian, and African countries transit Costa Rica en route to the US. 

  • Host country for refugees: There are 87,190 asylum seekers in Costa Rica of whom 80% are Nicaraguan, and 7% Venezuelan.






* Weekly data update



  • Costa Rica signed an agreement with Panama to carry out a controlled transfer of migrants. This agreement was suspected when Nicaragua closed its border to migrants. Costa Ricans who return to the country receive immediate assistance and subsequent follow-up.

  • Costa Rica extended the border closure period until August 1st, and as of August 2nd, it allowed foreign persons to enter the territory under the migratory category of residents or the subcategory of tourism, an option available by air only.

  • By decree, the Ministry of Health expanded the list of countries eligible for the process of opening air borders, adding nations from Asia, Oceania, and the Americas to the list of 44 countries.

  • Border closure and increase of surveillance. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the migration authorities implement measures to restrict entry to Costa Rica and they have turned back more than 3,000 people so far. 

  • Costa Rica reinforces its border with Nicaragua and expresses concern about Nicaragua’s health policies and its apparent neglect of the population.

  • The Government of Costa Rica has begun to transfer around 2,600 migrants from Asian and African countries, and Haiti to its border with Nicaragua. These migrants arrived from South America, mostly from Ecuador, with an intention of reaching  the US.

  • Costa Rica launches an information campaign to inform migrants that healthcare is available to all regardless of their immigration status.

  • UNHCR signs an agreement with the Costa Rican Social Security Fund to  fund medical insurance for 6,000 refugees and asylum seekers, particularly those with health conditions and economic vulnerability. Elderly people and health professionals will be automatically enrolled in the program because they are at higher risk during this health emergency.

  • The Government has proposed a joint effort to the International Organización Internacional de las Migraciones (IOM) to develop a protocol for care for indigenous migrants who enter the country during the coffee harvest period.

  • On May 29th, the Los Chiles Health Area issued a directive to deny medical care to undocumented migrants until immigration or police authorities provide support at the facilities.

  • The Presidency of the Republic in collaboration with the Ministries of Security, Government and Police, and Agriculture and Livestock signed a decree stating that companies in the agricultural, agro-export or agro-industrial sectors will be fined when found to be hiring undocumented migrants or hiring outside of the regular process.

*For more detail go to the digital archive that we created:

In mid-March 2020, nearly every country on the continent declared a health emergency. These countries closed their borders and adopted a series of exceptional measures, arguing that forced immobility as a  solution to contain the virus. Following the shutdown of borders,  more than 30 researchers from the Americas, interested in analyzing the migratory question politically, organized virtually and began to consider the particular situation of millions of migrants, women, men, children and adolescents, from the continent and/or from other latitudes, all of whom are mobile and in transit.

Original Concept: Soledad Álvarez Velasco, University of Houston

General Coordination:Soledad Álvarez Velasco, University of Houston & Ulla D. Berg, Rutgers University

Research, Systematization and Development of Contents: Soledad Álvarez Velasco, University of Houston;  Ulla D. Berg, Rutgers University; Lucía Pérez-Martínez, FLACSO-Ecuador; Mónica Salmon, New School for Social Research; Sebastián León,  Rutgers University.

Coordination polyphonic map: Iréri Ceja Cárdenas: Museo Nacional/ Universidad Federal de Rio de Janeiro

Project Advisor: Nicholas De Genova, Universidad of Houston.


Translation team Spanish - English: 

Soledad Álvarez Velasco, Mónica Salmón, Ulla Berg, Luin Goldring, Tanya Basok, Ingrid Carlson, Gabrielle Cabrera.

Translation team Spanish - Portuguese: 

Iréri Ceja, Gustavo Dias, Gislene Santos, Elisa Colares, Handerson Joseph, Caio Fernandes, María Villarreal.

Website Design and Development:  ACHU! Studio; Francisco Hurtado Caicedo, Social Observatory of Ecuador

Photography: David Gustafsson y Cynthia Briones.

Video: David Gustafsson.

Some of the researchers of this project are members of these CLACSO Working Groups

English translation and proofreading by Gabrielle Cabrera, Rutgers University.

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