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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Down to the Wire!

June 8, 2010
We’re back in California and steadily moving toward the finish line in our race for residency in Costa Rica. When we picked up our mail yesterday following a 12-hour drive down from Portland, we were happy to find our marriage certificate from Nevada, stamped and embossed by the Secretary of State, as well as my official Texas birth certificate authenticated by the Houston Costa Rican consulate. Now all we need is that police clearance letter and we’ll be ready to take our California documents to the Secretary of State’s office for certification. After that, we’ll make a drive down to Los Angeles to hand-carry everything to the Costa Rica consulate there, which has jurisdiction over the western states.
         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!
         This blog went unfinished last night so today I will add a short update from this morning’s visit to the sheriff’s office for fingerprinting. Other than the cost -- $88 for our two sets! -- the trip was pleasant enough. Like many people we meet and share our plans with, the technician was curious about and somewhat envious of our Costa Rican adventure.  When Layne described our lovely rented chalet with views of the Pacific and a wonderful ocean breeze, her face softened into that faraway look of unrequited tropical dreams. Perhaps one day she, too, will make that longed-for trip to her own place in the sun. For me, just talking about our Pura Vida in Costa Rica made me want the time here in the States to hurry on by so we can return to the balmy breezes and sunny skies of our adopted land. 

1 comment:

  1. We are going through the same process. We needed to send our set of fingerprints to the State Police for criminal identification. Each set of prints was $6. We are waiting to gt our noterized letters back from the state now and will send them into the SoS for certification.

    Ditto on the quickly passing time. It's been so cold here I can't wait to get to the beach.

    Good luck in your quest.