Though we are most certainly capable, Costa Ricans are more inclined not to confront.

Yes. We get it. People disagree.

But we much prefer a smile, get along and not to pour fuel an any fire in a moment of difficulty.

So when I receive the vitriol from some lawyers whom I must inevitably interact with on behalf of clients, I let it pass.

But sometimes it gets over the top and has a direct effect on unsuspecting clients who have put way too much faith in the law degree so proudly displayed on walls behind desks.

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(I also have a degree centered around law… except mine involves guns and uniforms.)

I will restrict this precautionary post to things that only affect ex-pats in need of legal services.

I have friends and family members highly placed in the legal system who I have total faith in.

But there are so many lawyers on the periphery who, while not necessarily intending to do harm, are downright delusional about the imagined prestige and power of that law degree.

As mentioned before, my second home is the Immigration Center, with Citizenship and Registry a close second and third.

Staff there are livid at how they are always confronted by know-it-all lawyers who talk down to them and debate about the rules.

As in,  “Hey you’re just a grunt working behind the counter, and I have a law degree.”

Incredibly bad strategy.

Again, let’s be clear… not all lawyers.

But in my own experience, MORE often than not, I see my clients encounter the same condescending stubbornness that ends up costing more time, money and a great deal of stress.

Occasionally I charge the client with obtaining needed documentation that Immigration, Citizenship, National Registry or a bank dictate be formatted and authenticated in a very specific way.

I have had one particular client go into his lawyer four times before finally getting a document processed properly.

All this after I had already properly written up the document for the client and lawyer to simply sign and notarize.

In their arrogance, the lawyer re-wrote the document and then stamped it incorrectly… three times… before finally capitulating to my requests to just do it the way Immigration asks!

The client lived 30 minutes away, and ate up 4 hours in trips back and forth.

If that particular lawyer had handled the Costa Rica residency application, it would have been doomed to several denials and two to three years to process.

Yesterday, when a similar event took place, the furious client demanded his lawyer fix a botched job and personally drive the document to me at Immigration where I was serving three other clients.

When the indignant lawyer arrived smoldering with anger and condescension, they still insisted that the format demanded was wrong and that I did not know what I was doing.

Further… they had called the notary department to confirm the rules.

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Memo to all lawyers: The notary department in Costa Rica DOES NOT SET THE RULES at Immigration and Citizenship.

Later, I submitted the corrected documents to Citizenship on behalf of my client, and they were accepted.

I reconfirmed the rules with the very pleasant and helpful intake staff person after telling him of my earlier encounter.

He went on to tell me that what I just went through with this particular lawyer is what he goes through on a daily basis.

Stubborn condescension are words he used a lot in his lament.

Historically, when I handle everything myself, it gets done properly.

As soon as I have to involve another lawyer, there is an 80% chance of error, ego bolstering arguments, delays, client fear and stress, and ultimately expense.

I am sure there will be heavy incoming on this post from the indignant.

But I trust that this adds perspective to my claim in my advertorial that I can do residencies faster than the vast majority of lawyers engaged in the same service.

In my next blog, I will offer you guidance on how to deal with CAJA.

Written by Laura B. Gutierrez who specializes in getting your residency approved in Costa Rica quicker and more efficiently than any attorney.

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There are 14 comments:

  • gaye melendez at 2:53 pm

    First, very good information. Thank you. My husband, with me as his dependent, submitted our own documents for pensionado residency. Immigration told us all our documents were done properly and said we didn’t need a lawyer. They provided a case number and written proof of our documents. That was May of 2016 approximatly. When My husband returns at the time immigration suggests, they tell him 3 more months, etc. The last news is he should check this month (since they were getting to the names starting in “M”. They are always nice to us. We just dont know if we should be concerned about the delays. We are moving to Grecia from Barva end of this month. The inconvenience we face is that every 3 months my husband has to leave Costa Rica and come back after 3 days to keep his driving privileges. He is disabled and needs to be able to drive. We are not rich and traveling every 3 months is expensive. Do you think you can help us or should we just be patient and wait. The upside is we don’t have to pay CAJA yet.

    • Tom at 7:56 pm

      Couple of things for you. It is fairly normal to have to wait and return to immigration every 90 days while waiting on your Residency papers. As for driving I believe you do not need to be a resident to get a Costa Rica Drivers license. The laws may have changed but I was not a resident when I got my first Costa Rica license. If I am correct I believe all you need is your current Drivers License from the states, your passport, a medical exam, and pay the fee. Once you have a Costa Rica license you won’t need to leave the country any more to retain you driving privileges

    • Martin Mark McHale at 1:08 am

      I m interested in employing your services to obtain residency status here in Costa Rica.
      We have been here in Costa Rica 4 years now , we are BRITISH Citezans with US green cards having spent the last 18 years there.
      We have had too many bad experiences in Costa Rica being victims of “ hundreds of thousands of deception” so we are sceptical about what any “ offers “ are made to provide us with what we need.
      Your script reads well but we have heard all the stories of false promises and larger final accounts way above the quoted amounts.
      Please provide us with a firm quote and accurate time frame for providing a positive conclusion to a residency application for my wife and self.
      We fit all the criteria for income purposes and have tangible assets in Costa Rica in excess of $2 million with two legal corporations .
      Look forward to your reply

  • jerry gesualdo at 3:56 pm

    have felony record,but getting ready to retire.

  • David Domm at 6:52 pm


    I am not quite ready to move to CR but I would like to know what the process entails and get a few questions answered.

    Thank you

  • Robert and Suk Harkins at 1:40 am

    Dear Ms. Gutierrez

    My husband and I are looking to apply the permanent residents. We already purchased real estate, and We have few questions. We look forward to hearing from you.
    Thank you.

  • DAVID ANDREWS at 5:47 pm

    How long is the time to get pensionda residency and cost(approximately)

  • Hans Herr at 2:10 pm

    We have been travelling to CR. since 2005 for a 3 month stay at a time.
    Wondering if we can apply as pensioners?

  • Khadim ravjani at 3:42 pm

    Hi im buying a property in costarica i want to buy it on corporation ans i want to open up dollar account how do i do that

  • R nicholas at 11:43 pm

    Yes sorrybto contact younthis way, have been unable to do so, mailmto tour regular email isnrejected. I wish to publish a home with you I have for sale, please send a working email, thanks r nicholas

  • Bob Hagemann at 9:06 pm

    My wife and I are considering applying for permanent residency. We are both retired, but have more than adequate income, investments, etc., to support ourselves. How long does it take to get approval? How long do we have after approval to move to CR? Does the approval ever expire? How much would it cost in terms of your fees and those of the government?

    Perhaps you can answer another question: How much are the annual property taxes and other government fees on a $200,000 to $400,000 USD single family residence (house or condo) in Guanacoste area of CR? Do they go up annually?

    Thank you for your help!

    Bob Hagemann

  • Dora at 5:34 pm

    Hello Ms. Gutierrez,
    We are thinking about moving to Costa Rica in the near future. I have a couple of questions for you, I hope that you can assist me. If we applied for our residency to live in Costa Rica are we required to to give up our residency in the united states? Another question if decided that we do not want to apply for residency once we are there and chose stayed in Costa Rica with an extended tourist visa, how often are we required to renew our visa, and can it be done there in Costa Rica?

  • Shankar Kumar at 1:17 pm

    I am an Indian National of 50 years old, currently living / employed in the UAE (United Arab Emirates).

    I also hold B1/B2 Business visa of United States of America which is valid till 2025.

    I wish to immigrate to Coasta Rica to remain there rest of my life.

    Please thereofore let me know if you have resources to support my case in Costa Rica.

    Shankar Kumar
    skype: hr.shankar
    Mob: 00971504670680

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