Changes at Immigration, looking forward to a simpler future!

The Immigration Department has issued a new Resolution aiming to simplify the requirements for Residency for on-going applications filed by October 14, 2019. The background check requirement listed on item 1 below, however, is suggested for all new applications as well.

Below a summary of the major key elements that temporarily affect Residency processes:

  1. Immigration will only accept federal background checks. This means only nation-wide, fingerprint and name-based background checks will be accepted such as FBIs for US citizens or RCMPs for Canadians. Immigration has also added an additional requirement for US citizens, demanding that a document from the NCIC National Crime Information Center, duly apostilled and recently issued, be filed. Outlier Legal Services will certainly fight this as we consider this to be a) impossible to fulfill and b) an abuse of requirements. We have joint forces with various well-known attorneys that also practice Immigration Law and together will challenge this latter requirement. Nonetheless, expats need to be aware that filing local police reports from for example Florida, California, etc. will no longer be accepted. People from Mexico, Canada, the US and Brazil can only file recently issued (no older than 6 months) apostilled or legalized and duly translated federal background checks.
  2. For on-going applications, Immigration will temporarily accept birth certificates that are not recently issued. This means that duly apostilled or legalized and translated birth certificates which surpass the 6-month rule will be accepted for on-going applications. Hence, if you filed your apostilled 1995 birth certificate in perfect condition (no damages, smudges, etc.) you can process Residency with that document. Outlier Legal Services has raised a clarification request asking Immigration to state if this new rule for the birth certificates can be extended to new applications, however, until we receive a response, we must assume it does not.
  3. For on-going applications, a complete copy of the passport is no longer required. Applications, where only a copy of the biographical page, the page with the entry stamp and any pages showing a visa were filed, will be accepted.
  4. The Consular Registration is no longer required for on-going applications.
  5. The application form, known as formulario de filiación, is no longer required for on-going applications.
  6. Fingerprinting before the local Police in Costa Rica is no longer a requirement to file for Residency, it is a requirement to conclude the process. This means that whilst fingerprinting is still mandatory, the fingerprint slip will only be required once Residency is approved and you must complete the latter stages of the process: CAJA registration and DIMEX procurement. At Outlier Legal we suggest completing fingerprinting from the beginning. This will save you an additional step at the end of the process.

**Important to state that concessions have been granted for Venezuelan nationals in view of the extreme political situation their country is going through. If interested in such concessions, please reach out to us and we will explain how certain special rules pertaining to document and passport validity apply to Venezuelan nationals.

Unfortunately, this new resolution does have its mistakes. It is unclear in certain aspects, for example, it does not state if point 1 pertaining to the background checks is retroactive. It also states that it is temporary, for on-going applications only but it is to be expected that this will apply for all old and new applications. Outlier Legal Services has raised the necessary clarification requests to the Immigration Department.

We also remain attentive to receive a resolution pertaining to the requirements one must file if the applicant has suffered a name change. Luckily a few weeks back we received a response where the Ministry of Economy, Commerce and Industry demanded for Immigration to state the requirements. In the meantime, we would recommend for applicants who have suffered a name change to add, along with their applications, all documents to explain the development of the name. Documents such as apostilled or legalized and translated marriage and divorce decrees along with a letter of explanation shall suffice.

We are delighted to receive this news from the Immigration Department. Whilst various clarifications are still required, we receive these changes with open arms and a smile on our faces.

This certainly does not make up for the extreme delays experienced and some crazy requests the Immigration Department comes up with, but it is certainly a step in the right direction. Hopefully, it will be a permanent step, nos just a temporary measure for on-going applications.

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The Author

Irene Brenes

Irene Brenes

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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