I have been a reader of A.M. Costa Rica since 2003 and I am also married to a Tica, have a Tico son and two stepchildren that are Ticos.
I am always curious about the horror stories shared by my fellow readers as my experiences with the U.S. Embassy have been very different in that they are positive! A year ago this month I accompanied Dina and our little son, Jarrel, to the embassy expecting a nightmare of red tape and confusion. However the folks at the embassy were friendly, spoke English to me and then explained to Dina in Spanish what they were doing until I told them Spanish was fine as I was fluent
(imagine that a Gringo that took the time to learn the language!!!)
We got the visas for my wife and our little boy with no problems. At that time I did not have enough money to pay for Geancarlo and Sofi to get Visas, and the embassy said I had a calendar year to do it on that application which would save me money and time. Two weeks ago Dina flew back to San José, went to the embassy, got the packet of needed documents and instructions and proceeded to work on getting the kids their visas. I must admit I envisioned having to fly down at the last minute to help and work through any and all problems. However 45 minutes ago Dina called me to say “Patrick va a bailar en el calle. Los chicos tienen visas!” So after doing a little dance, singing a little song and wiping a few tears away, I decided to share our very positive story with your readers.
If you go into the Embassy informed, with the proper documents and a pleasant and positive attitude, good things will happen. I really believe most of the negative e-mails you receive are from unprepared, under-informed people with a bad attitude. I am proud to be an American and even prouder to be a Tico-Gringo. I hope this coming year when I apply for my Costa Rican residency that they are as helpful as the U.S. Embassy has been. My positive experience was NOT because I am a rich guy that paid bribes to make things work. I am a struggling businessman in a bad economy that struggles to make things work.
I went to the USCIS web site, talked to any immigration lawyer that would give me free advice and paid Lena-Korial here in Jacksonville to prepare the original application which was well worth it. I DO recommend getting an attorney involved. I used my Costa Rica attorney/notary, Marielos Melendez, to help with translation of documents and to help prep Dina for her original interview . . . .which never happened. They saw our son and the stack of money wire transfers from years of supporting them from Florida and knew this was no make believe marriage.
If you wonder why The U.S. Embassy uses “rent-a-guards at the embassy and not Marines, its because Costa Rica is our ally and not prone to terrorism, Our fighting men are busy now and can’t be spared for this duty. Thanks to all of the staff at the embassy. You always were pleasant when I called (and I called so much they remembered me and often said “Mr. Mach if you remember the last time you called and we discussed this . . . . “) You were helpful when I was there a year ago and today when my wife our son and two stepchildren went in, you answered our prayers. Our dream has come true. With a little luck I will have my family in Florida for Christmas and begin a new life here thereafter. They will be like me people with a foot in two different countries.
Thank you A.M. Costa Rica for listening to me and often publishing my letters. I ask you to print this because the folks at the U.S. Embassy deserve a pat on the back!
St Augustine, Florida / La Uruca