Our Road to Residency:

We're Legal - 581 Days Later...

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It only took 581 days, but Fran and I are now legal residents of Costa Rica.  We now carry a "cedula", the equivalent of an American "green card", that now states we are legal residents of Costa Rica.

Perpetual Tourist Status...

When someone from North America or the EU visits Costa Rica, upon entry, their passports are stamped granting them a 90 day tourist visa.  At the end of that 90 day period they are required to leave the country.  However, when they return, their passports are stamped with another 90 day visa.  Many expats living in Costa Rica make a "run for the border" every 90 days in order to renew their Tourist Visa.  These people are known as PT's or Perpetual Tourists.  Under the government's new Immigration Law, greater restrictions are being foist upon PT's in the hopes of making them achieve residency.

When we moved to Costa Rica we decided right then and there to apply for residency, become legal, and avoid all the problems that may be associated with being a PT.  For starters, let's say you leave home on holiday, upon your return, a border guard notices all your 90 day visa stamps and determines that you are a PT.  He has the power to refuse you entrance back into Costa Rica!  Why... because he can!  This is not a cool thing especially if your home and all your possessions are in Costa Rica.

Becoming A Legal Resident:  The process...

Becoming legal can be a real pain in the ass.  It begins with the collection of certain key documents such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, police reports, financial statements etc.  MORE INFO.   Those documents must then be authenticated by the office of the Secretary of State from which they were issued. 

Once that is done, all the documents must be sent to the closest Costa Rican consulate from where the documents originated or you can send all the documents to the Costa Rican Embassy in Washington and pray nothing gets lost.  Ya see what I mean by being a pain in the ass! 

Next you need to complete an application for residency (in Spanish) and have your fingerprints and pictures taken.  The only problem is, this process needs to be done at the "cop shop" in San Jose, CR!

Now you can do all this work yourself but we decided to hire a Costa Rican attorney who specializes in Immigration to ease us through this process.

Monday, August 28, 2008...

We met with our attorney during our first due diligence trip to Costa Rica.  We completed the residency application along with having our fingerprints and pictures taken.  Upon our return to the US, we began the document collection, authentication and consularization process.  It took about four months but when we returned to Costa Rica for our second due diligence trip (January 9, 2009), we submitted all our completed paperwork to the attorney.  He in turn submitted everything to Costa Rican Immigration (aka Migracion).

Wednesday, May 20, 2009...

We received our folio numbers (100 days later) indicating Migracion has received our application and officially acknowledges that we were now "in process."  The good news is, we now are no longer required to leave the country every 90 days to renew our Tourist Visa.

Friday, June 19, 2009

A minor setback just occurred.  Our lawyer just informed us that Migracion requires a word change on our Financial Responsibility document.  It currently reads that our current assets "could generate a fixed income of at least $2000 USD."  We need a new letter that specifies that the amount generated by our investments is being sent to our account in Costa Rica in a permanent and stable way for the next five years.  Essentially, we needed to change the word COULD to WOULD!  So now we needed to contact my Financial Planner, have him generate a new letter, sign and notarize it, forward the letter to Raleigh NC to the Office of the Secretary of State (for authentication), then to the Costa Rican Consulate in Atlanta for Costa Rican authentication and then back to my Lawyer in San Jose. All toll... about a 3 month delay!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010...

Just a scant 306 days after receiving our folio numbers, we were officially notified that our approval for residency has been granted.  We received our resolution.  The only thing remaining was to secure an appointment with Migracion (in San Jose) have our official pictures taken and receive our Cedulas.

Thursday, August 12, 2010...

While attending the International Living Conference in San Jose, Fran and I met with our lawyer and went to the offices of Migracion.  Here we waited in line for about two hours to have new pictures and digital finger prints taken. We left there, not with our new Cedulas but with a piece of paper that said our Cedulas will be mailed to our Post Office in exactly one week.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

As promised, we went to the Post Office in Playas del Coco and picked up our cedulas.


WAITING ROOM AT MIGRACION

WAITING ROOM AT MIGRACION

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