It seems like a long, complicated process and in some ways, it is. But we realize that the clear instructions we have received from our attorney, Monika Valerio de Ford, have made it so much easier for us than for others working without the benefit of an experienced guide. In this month’s Association of Residents of Costa Rica (ARCR) newsletter, in fact, we read an article that mentions the frequency of papers lost or misdirected between “the Consul, the Courier, and Migracion.” These mistakes can cost in both time and money. When we face issues such as getting a document, then having it notarized and then sent to a Secretary of State for certification, we cannot imagine how others manage all this by mail or a courier service. Going in person is easier for us perhaps, since most of our documents are from places where we want to go anyway (locales near family or friends), but the knowledge that we are handing our papers to the correct agency and getting them back with proper dates and stamps on them provides us with great confidence that our final residency papers will be in order.
Even with our attorney’s help, confusion still reigns when you learn of a policy from one supposedly reliable source that is in conflict with a policy from another equally reliable official. Case in point: the police clearance letter. We remain unclear as to whether we should append fingerprints and a photograph with this document as we were told in Houston at the consulate there or whether the letter itself is sufficient. After all, the very first step in this process was fingerprinting at the police department in San Jose, Costa Rica, last spring. Those, we were told, would be sent to Interpol so perhaps another set is needed by Immigration. We plan to have them done again here in California, just in case.
Another significant detail still in limbo is whether a local police letter will suffice or if a state level, or even federal level letter is preferred by Costa Rican Immigration officials. Relying again on information offered by the clerk in Houston, we were led to believe that a local letter was inadequate; we should obtain a state agency-issued letter. Today, however, in conversation with the Costa Rican consulate in Los Angeles, where our documents will actually be considered for authentication, the kind woman on the phone indicated that sometimes a federal letter was viewed more favorably by the Immigration Department but she couldn’t confirm that one was better than the other. So much for definitive instructions!