Costa Rican immigration police raided the local offices of the language school Máximo Nivel in San Pedro on Thursday. Authorities took in 15 people to verify their immigration status, the Immigration Administration told The Tico Times Friday afternoon.
One of the school’s owners, Ken Jones, told The Tico Times that the raid was a mistake, and that police were surprisingly “forceful” in their handling of the situation.
Immigration police entered the San Pedro offices of the language school at 11:15 a.m. on Thursday morning. Authorities said some 35 people in the facility were from the U.S., U.K., Canada, Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama and Nicaragua.
Some of the individuals did not have identification with them to immediately verify their immigration status. Some said they were volunteers giving English lessons in exchange for Spanish classes, immigration authorities told The Tico Times.
Jones suggested that the raid was the result of confusion at the Immigration Administration about the school’s operations. He said that students studying for the certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language at Máximo Nivel were required to teach as part of a practical component.
All Máximo Nivel staff members are legally employed, Jones said.
Administrators were baffled at the size of the response by immigration police, Jones added. He said the police “forcefully rounded up” people at the school.
The school owner said that no students or staff were detained by police. He said the school’s lawyers were cooperating with authorities.
“We support tourism and Costa Rican culture,” Jones said, “There’s nothing strange happening here.”
Máximo Nivel, a for-profit business with schools in Costa Rica, Peru, Guatemala and Miami, advertises instructors who are certified native English speakers from the U.S., U.K., Canada and South Africa, among other countries, according to the company’s website and Facebook page. The company has 145 students in Costa Rica and has operated here since 2007.