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U.S. Embassy in San José working normal hours

The U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica on Tuesday reported that the U.S. government shutdown will not immediately impact its operations in Costa Rica.

“The embassy will open normal hours on Tuesday, October 1, and will continue until further notice. This includes visa and passport services to U.S. citizens,” a statement on the embassy’s website said.

The mission added that the Federal Benefits Unit would continue to make Social Security payments and provide veteran benefits. The lack of appropriations, however, will keep the FBU from issuing new or replacement Social Security cards or replace a Medicare card.

The diplomatic office advised those who have proceedings pending with the Office of Federal Benefits to visit the embassy’s website for detailed information on the services they offer.

But with few signs of compromise on the horizon, it is unknown how long these services will continue. A memo from Secretary of State John Kerry noted that while many branches of the State Department have already received appropriations to last through the next year, overseas offices operate on a one-year appropriation and would only keep their doors open “as long as there are sufficient fees to support operations.”

The U.S. government was shut down on Tuesday for the first time in 17 years after Republicans and Democrats failed to negotiate the national budget, leaving some 800,000 bureaucrats in a lurch.

Despite intensive negotiations on Monday night, and back-and-forth discussions between the Democratic-majority Senate and House of Representatives, dominated by Republicans, any finance bill could be adopted in time for the start of the financial year 2014, which began on Tuesday at midnight.

Visa lottery form now available

The U.S. Embassy also reported that the electronic form to participate in the diversity visa program, know as the visa lottery, would be available on Tuesday and until noon on Saturday, Nov. 2.

The diplomatic office highlighted that is the only available website to apply for a visa under this program and that it is a free service offered by the Department of State of the United States.

The online form also is the only method to apply, and no paper applications will be accepted. Each person must send only one application, as sending more will immediately disqualify a person from participating in the program.

The visa lottery awards 50,000 permanent resident visas to persons from countries with low immigration rates to the United States, including Costa Rica.

Zach Dyer contributed to this report.

L. Arias
L. Arias
Reporter | The Tico Times |

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