Saturday, April 28, 2018

In recent months, probably because of the massive migratory push from countries such as Venezuela and Haiti, the Dominican authorities, after years of "laissez-faire" have started to apply more strictly the migratory law (Ley 285-04) entered into force 15 years ago but never applied until lately.

The practical consequences of this change of attitude of the migratory authorities closely affect many categories of travelers who habitually reach the Dominican Republic and stay there for long periods, in particular the tens of thousands of retirees and pensioners from North America and Europe who spend between 3 and 9 months a year on the island as tourists without regular residency documents and simply extending their stay beyond the 60 days limit for tourists. In addition to those, there are  plenty of property owners who spend more than two months a year on the island as simple tourists who will soon feel the pain by this new policy: the Immigration Office (DGM) has officially announced that those who extend their stay on the island over the 60 days limit without having the requisites (ie residence documents) can be denied entry at the airport immigration controls  in their next travels to the Dominican Republic. In practical terms: from now on you can overstay and simply pay an overstay tax at the exit from the country the country but you will run into troubles at your next travel when you can be denied entry.  As of writing these some cases of entry denied for previous overstay are confirmed but the application of the law is not yet the rule, there seems to be some discrectionary in its application however the risk of not being allowed into the country is concrete and  those who have affections or properties on the island should take this seriously if they have overstayed in the past.

Below is the official documents of the DGM on this particular issue:

Remedies and / or solutions? There are only three options:

1 - Ignore this and risk   (not recommended).

2- Limit your stay to 60 days if you have never exceeded that limit before.

3- Regularization by requesting a residence visa for study, work, family or investment. 
This third option is the most recommended and  safest (especially for those with properties and affections on the island)  but it is also expensive and difficult.

If this policy does not change or stiffens the backlash will be felt soon because the parties involved are many and there are significant potential side effects (think of the decline in demand and the increase in supply of properties that this policy could cause in the short term).
The Dominican Republic has an immigration law, it has been in force for 15 years and one should not ignore this simple fact, if it has not been applied before it does not mean it is not there.

We will continue to follow developments from this blog and  to publish updates.