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Waiting for Sanity in the TSE

As Outliers, we must think outside the box. Far from being part of the problem, we strive to be part of the solution. Instead of complaining, we try to come up with ideas. This has

As Outliers, we must think outside the box. Far from being part of the problem, we strive to be part of the solution. Instead of complaining, we try to come up with ideas. This has been one of the pillars of our company values.

As such, we have always fought for what we believe is right. One example of the sort of things we like to do happened back in 2019. Back in 2019 Immigration, all of a sudden, decided that the FBI reports were not the correct background check for US nationals. They wanted duly apostilled NCIC reports. They were raising exigencies, rejecting applications, causing all sorts of havoc all due to this NCIC. Having worked with US Authorities for many years, we knew that procuring an NCIC is not possible. Something must have happened here that made Immigration reject the FBI reports in favor of an impossible document.

So, we started to research. We reached out and met with Immigration, spoke to the US Embassy in San Jose, attorneys in the US, and most importantly, the FBI. It took months of work, but we managed to present to Immigration notarized and certified copies of emails from the US Embassy confirming that the FBI report was correct, we filed certified copies of emails from FBI officials explaining that the FBI reports were sufficient, we presented the transcript of a call with the FBI confirming that the NCIC could not be secured. Evidence upon evidence was gathered and filed. That, along with the outcry of the community, law firms, and the excellent assistance of the Bar Association, resulted in a Circular (official document) issued in 2020 where Immigration admitted that the FBI was correct.

In 2020 we again dedicated the majority of our time to ensure the rights of the expat community were duly protected. We did what we could to nudge Transportation to extend driving privileges, filed numerous clarification requests at Immigration to ensure the almost monthly resolutions were clear and easy to follow, etc.

And now, come 2021, a new fight is upon us. This time, one of our major goals of this first trimester of 2021, is to make the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones understand that securing documents abroad has become a cumbersome and painful process. As many of you may know, Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones, or TSE is short for the office responsible for processing Citizenship applications. Immigration handles Residencies, Estancias, Special Categories, etc. and TSE handles naturalization requests. Unlike Immigration, TSE demands the background check that is mandatory to file for Citizenship to be recently issued. That is not shocking, as Immigration does this too. However, recently issued per TSE’s standards is no older than 3 months (its generally 6 for Immigration).

Whilst they accept birth certificates regardless of when these were issued, as long as they are apostilled/legalized, they are dead set on the need for background checks that are not older than 3 months. That is understandable in a world where COVID has not delayed documents procurement services for months.

The main problem, once again, is the FBI report. To apostille an FBI report, the document must be sent to the Department of State in D.C. Procurement and apostille of FBI reports pre-COVID was a 4-week process, it was easy, seamless and you knew what to expect. Apostille of an FBI report nowadays is a 12-14 weeks process! That means that when a US national is processing his/her Citizenship application (may it be because they have been married for 2 years or because they have lived in the country as a legal Resident for 5-7 years depending on their nationality) he/she is already at a huge disadvantage. Because by the time their duly processed FBI report returns to them with the apostille, it will already be expired per TSE’s standards.

 This simply cannot be, it is not fair. There is a principle in our law that states that no one is obliged to the impossible l filing a less than 3-month-old FBI report with apostille is impossible now. Hence, we have been working with TSE to understand this and show some flexibility.

So far we have sent them an official request which was not well received, However, we have dedicated well over a month to gather evidence, sufficient documents that can prove, beyond any doubts, that the Department of State is taking 12-14 weeks to apostille a US FBI report. Sadly, we reached out to the Embassy and unlike the NCIC issue, this time they stated that they were going to assist. Therefore, we have reached out to contacts in D.C., have certified copies of these communications, of webpages, conversations, etc. all to meet with TSE and file another request to force them to accept FBI reports that surpass the 3-month deadline for a few days/weeks.

Whilst we continue working with TSE on this, if any expat has a contact within the Department of State that would be willing to send us an email confirming that the 12-14 weeks is the official processing time they are using now, we would be tremendously grateful.

We are confident that TSE will eventually concede and compromise. Once we have further news to share on this matter, we certainly will.



Attorney with more than 10 years of experience in customer service, team management and team building at an international level. Has worked immigration cases in various countries, including Costa Rica, Colombia and Panama.

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  • molly Ruland March 2, 2021

    Working on this evidence for you, I will be in touch.