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Foreigners Use Marriage to Try for Costa Rican Residency

January 14, 2005

IMMIGRATION authorities uncovered123 cases of marriages by foreignersto Costa Ricans last year allegedly stagedto gain resident status here – a practicethat has become increasingly common inrecent years, the daily La Nación reported.Cubans, Colombians and Asians arethe most common participants in the practice,although U.S. citizens have beenknown in a few cases to use marriage toacquire legal residency, the Association ofResidents of Costa Rica (ARCR) told TheTico Times.One extremely poor Costa Ricanwoman told La Nación she never evenmet the Cuban man she agreed to marryfor ¢20,000 ($44) – a price and a practicetypical of these marriages.The marriages include those betweenforeign professionals and Costa Rica indigentsand drug-addicts and between olderforeigners and young Costa Ricans.While the spouses receive less than$100 to say “I do,” the lawyers whoprocess the marriages and residencyrequests charge between $1,000-3,000.The marriages are done through alegal process in which the foreigner is stilloutside the country. A visa is later requestedfor entrance into Costa Rica. Therequests also often include the foreigner’schildren, the daily reported.Last year alone, the immigrationdepartment received 130 requests for marriagevisas, although 95% were denied.Immigration chief Marco Badilla toldEFE wire service that authorities havebeen aware of these marriages of conveniencefor many years but gaps in the lawprevent them from taking action.

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