Mar. 17, 2008
Here's the latest in the ongoing sage of John & Blanca's pursuit of legal residency in CR:
Prior to our trip to CR last week, I tried calling the ‘migracion,’ and even sent at least one email, seeking confirmation of our residency application status, and/or confirmation of exactly where we needed to go, and what we needed to do. You all may recall that the Consulate in Houston had told us last November that our attorney in CR would be contacted by migracion, to let us know what to do/when, etc……I received no response to my email, and nobody answered the phone.
So, we arrived in CR on Saturday afternoon, and after spending the rest of the weekend up North, we drove to San Jose on Monday, March 10. Based on my best research efforts, I was under the impression that we needed to go to the ‘Casa Amarilla’ to find out the status of our application. That is where we went, just before noon on Monday.
Naturally, that was not the place to go. We were told we needed to go to la migracion in La Uruca. So, we left our rental car in the Parqueo Publico, and took a cab. (I hate to recount the total cost of this trip, but just for the heck of it, here is where it begins to add up – not counting the cost of airfare). Cab fare: $4500 col.
Shortly after noon, we got to the rather extensive Migracion complex in La Uruca, only to find that we could not obtain service, information, or much more than the time of day, because we did not have a ‘ficha’ (as in: “Please take a number for faster service.” These are only given out in the early morning, first come, first served). So, Monday ended on a pretty sour note. (Cab fare, back to our parked rental: $3500 col – go figure; + cost of parking, around 3000 col. Time to check in to our cheap hotel, Best Western downtown - $280.00 dlls, for three nights).
We got an early start on Tuesday, taking another cab back to La Uruca (cab fare: $3000 col; what is this?). This time we got a good spot in a very long line, and were issued number 7! The place officially opens, btw, at 0800, but they started letting in the longest line of people about 0730, which looked to be a good sign. Even though they let us in prior to their official opening time, it turns out that was evidently just a ploy to get us where they wanted us, because nobody actually began work until 0830-0900. And, despite the fact that they have a large number of employees, very few of those folks appeared to have anything to do.
When we finally got to talk to a young lady we were told to wait while she went to try to locate our file (the one for which we paid a hundred dollars in courier fees, back in November, to get to them). She came back after a bit, and said it would take a while, and to have a seat. A while turned out to be close to an hour and a half.
Then, we learned that we needed to a number of things (she did provide us with a hand written list of “things to do”:
1. Huellas (fingerprints) – in front of the Commercial Center of ‘Sur,’ in the ‘gubernacion y policia.’
2. Casa Amarilla – legalize our documents & translation of same.
3. Go back to the Information area (at Migracion, in La Uruca) to ask for two ‘formularios of filiacion.’
4. Deposit into the BCR (Banco de Costa Rica) $33.00 dlls each to account number: xxxxxx.
5. Make extra copies of our marriage certificate and of my pension statement, to accompany Blanca’s file.
So, first, we went to the conveniently located branch of BCR, right there at Migracion, and paid the $66.00 dlls. We then personally carried those documents (that had been in their hands), back to La Casa Amarilla, (which is like their headquarters) to have them authenticated, and to continue the overall process, that had been in limbo since November. (y’all might recall that it was reported here that we were told by the CR Consulate that Migracion would be contacting our attorney in CR, right? Obviously, that was not real, either, since no one has heard from these folks).
Late Tuesday morning, after paying 1,000 colones per document for Timbres right there in the waiting area at Casa Amarilla, we then had to take a number (we got #93, and they were then on #46, or so), and wait. After an hour or two – now, it’s early afternoon – we became the object of pity by one of the staffers, and she told us that we were entitled to preferential treatment as “mayores de edad” – senior citizens – and had not needed to wait all of that time. However, since we had yet to pay all of the fees, off we were sent to our next stop, which was yet another branch of BCR, where we now had to pay the $240.00 dlls ($40/each document submitted) that had been returned to us back in October, by the Washington, D.C., Embassy of CR. Once that money had been paid, we returned to the Casa Amarilla, where the receipts were glued to the backs of our documents in lieu of the stamps that are evidently no longer available. We were also given the name and phone number for an official translator.
Next, we rushed to the Police to get our fingerprints. Upon arrival there, we learned that it was now too late in the day for anything to be done, because they close at 3:00 pm. So, back to our cheap hotel. At this time, we arranged with the cab driver (oh, btw, cab fare from Casa Amarilla, to Police, and back to the hotel ran another 5-6000 cols.) to pick us up Wed. morning, at 0630, so as to get back to the police early. Next morning (it is now Wednesday, March 12), upon entry to the Police fingerprinting area, we were turned down because we didn’t have photos with us. Fortunately, there was a place that did photos just a couple of blocks away, and we got them done very quickly, before 0800, for $3.00 dlls, each. The fingerprinting did not take too long, and – for a change – there was no charge! So, now we had to find the person to translate our documents.
We found his office (our cab driver called on his cell to get directions), and paid him for a rush on our document translation. He originally said he couldn’t even touch them until the end of the week, but we explained that we did not have that much time. This cost was 65,000 cols, and he told us to call him at around 0900, on Thursday morning. We had the same cab driver taking us around on Wednesday, and even bought him lunch. He still charged us 20,000 colones for his time!
So, a late start on Thursday: When we called, the translator said he was almost done, so we got a cab to his office. He did manage to finish up, very close to his promised time (as we waited) Thursday, around 11 or so. We then took the cab back to the hotel (which we had checked out of first thing Thursday morning), so as to get our rental car. This time the cab fare was only 10,000 colones.
Now, believing that we finally had everything that was needed, we then made haste to get back up to La Uruca, and what we hoped was the final stop. The young lady with whom we had dealt on Tuesday morning had told us that when we had everything together, all we had to do was present ourselves at the Information windows, and ask for the ‘formularios,’ and submit our documents. That, of course, turned out NOT to be the case. Upon arrival back at the Information windows, the only one on duty there told us that we had to go back inside #3, where we had encountered that young lady mentioned above, and that meant that we needed to have a ‘ficha.’ Not good…..so, we went on ahead back into #3, where we waited for her to get free, and then explained that we had just been turned away, after she had told us we would not have to go through this ‘take a number’ thing again……she finished the person she had in front of her, and graciously accepted our documents (we very strongly suspect that she did not think that we would have been able to get everything on her list, and get back to her so quickly, but we did). She time stamped each document, complete with all of their ‘timbres,’ stamps, receipts, and official translations, and provided us with a receipt that says that as of March 13, 2008 @ 12:49:52, the Direccion General de Migracion Y Extranjeria has received all of the necessary documents for expediente No. xxx-xxxxxx!
She then told us that it should take about thirty days to finish the process (no, we are not holding our breath), and at the end of that time the Migracion would notify our CR attorney of our appointment to receive our cedulas. It is our understanding that we will then have to show up there within something like ten days in order not to miss our window of opportunity.