HIAS in Costa Rica

Founded: 2017
Staff Size: 22
Country Director: Gabriela Nunez 
Office Locations: San Jose San Jose, La Cruz, Upala, Los Chiles, and Paso Canoas



Costa Rica hosts some 35,000 refugees and asylum seekers from El Salvador, Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and other countries. The country is also a transit point for people from other regions in search of asylum or better opportunities in the United States and Canada. 


HIAS Costa Rica provides legal orientation for newly arrived clients, as well as early detection of people with a need for immediate attention, such as unaccompanied and separated children, gender-based violence survivors, LGBTQ, people with disabilities, and elderly people. We also provide legal representation to individual refugees and asylum seekers, particularly those with special protection needs, and participate in the development of assistance routes for persons of concern. HIAS helps more than 500 people per month. 



With dramatic increases in the number of asylum seekers entering Costa Rica, it is of critical importance that a comprehensive system of legal information, referrals to non-legal services, and individual legal aid is available. In response to a major influx of Nicaraguans since May 2018, HIAS now delivers humanitarian assistance to the Nicaraguan population along the northern border.

HIAS has also broadened the scope of its monitoring activities to include the southern Costa Rica border and the northern Costa Rica border in multiple locations. Legal services are also provided along both borders. Since HIAS Costa Rica is the only strong operation present along the northern border, it has assumed delivery of humanitarian assistance, including food kits and hygiene kits.

Legal Services

HIAS provides asylum seekers with information about their legal rights and obligations. HIAS staff ensure that the most vulnerable asylum seekers have access to  individual legal representation during asylum procedures. HIAS also provides refugees and asylum seekers legal advice and representation to help them access their social and economic rights. By providing asylum seekers and refugees with comprehensive legal information and assistance, the program intends to dramatically increase refugee protection. 
Specifically, HIAS’ main program activities are: individual legal assistance and representation in refugee status determination proceedings and in other protection actions to ensure effective access to social and economic rights; capacity building; coordination and advocacy; border monitoring; and humanitarian assistance response at the Northern Border. 

HIAS’s services are free. If someone tries to charge you for services claiming they represent HIAS, please report it at our confidential email address: ethics@hias.org. HIAS has a zero-tolerance policy on fraud and corruption. 

For any other inquiries please email us at info@hias.org.