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Originally published in our sister publication Casa de Campo Living Magazine Fall edition
Extension of maximum stay for non-residents
Many have asked me if the immigration laws of the Dominican Republic have changed – This has become a great concern among people who are not yet citizens or legal residents of the DR: my answer is the following, they have not been modified. But there are some updates that have been made that you must take into consideration.
The good news …
El Dominican Immigration Department extended from 30 to 60 days the standard allowed stay for non-legal resident persons entering the country with either a tourism card (now replaced by the tourism entry tax charged directly by your airline) or a tourist visa.
In addition to the 60-day standard allowed stay, non-residents may also request an extension of 60-day to complete a maximum stay of 4 months in the country.
What should you do?
In order to benefit from the additional 60-day extension, non-resident individuals entering the country will have to apply for the extension within the first 30 days of having entered the country. This application can be done either personally or through your immigration counsel at the Dominican Immigration Department with its supporting documents, which may include proof-of-solvency documentation, such as copies of certificate of titles, vehicle registrations, and bank reference letters.
The not so good news is …
up until now the authorities applied a somewhat relaxed enforcement of these and limited their efforts to collecting the overstay fines at the exiting port but recently they have officially announced that they will begin taking a stricter stance and will apply immigration laws as written against visitors found in violation of the allowed 60-day stay or its additional 60-day extension, as applicable.
So far we have had at least three clients report to our immigration specialist that they have been denied entry for having overstayed before on a past trip, regardless of their having paid the usual overstay fines at their port of exit. In short, it seems authorities are beginning to apply overstay rules at least in some cases since we do not know with certainty if it’s been applied in all instances and at all airports.
If you plan to stay for longer periods than those allowed by law, we recommend that you apply for the Dominican residency program best suitable to your particular case. As a suggestion, and from what we have seen in some cases with our clients, the quickest path to automatic permanent residency are the fast-track residency programs available for retirees or fixed-income earners.
Alfredo A. Guzmán Saladín, is an attorney-partner at Guzmán Ariza, Attorneys-at-Law (www.drlawyer.com), and a The Legal 500 Latin America recommended lawyer. The firm is a full service national law firm founded in 1927 and dedicated to servicing the needs of international investors in the Dominican Republic, with seven offices located in La Romana, Santo Domingo, Punta Cana, Las Terrenas, Sosúa-Puerto Plata, Samaná and Cabrera. A Casa resident, Alfredo services clients out the firm’s La Romana and Punta Cana offices and may be contacted at [email protected] or (809) 550-6400 – (829) 259-3058.