Officials move to end crush of those seeking fingerprinting

The security ministry is trying to counter the results of the law of unintended consequences.

When the Dirección General de Migración set up an amnesty for foreigners living here, those affected, mostly Nicaraguans, flooded their own embassy. There were persons sleeping on the street for several days in order to obtain the paperwork they needed to comply with the Costa Rican rules.

What was lesser known is that the security ministry also was flooded. The ministry is where foreigners go to have their fingerprints taken for residency applications. This is also where applicants for firearm permits have to go. The prints are eventually compared to international data bases to week out criminals.

Crowds of Nicaraguans seeking residency swamped the ministry facilities in Barrio Córdoba. Eventually the ministry began issuing tickets for fingerprint appointments. And prints would be taken from about 300 persons a day.

Considering that several hundred thousand Nicaraguans were seeking residency, officials quickly decided that other ways must be found.
New rules were issued Thursday. Tickets that already have been issued will be valid only through Wednesday.

Thursday and afterwards fingerprint applicants will have to make an appointment by telephone. But the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública also is allowing prints to be taken at regional offices. Print experts are being sent there.

Two numbers have been set up: 2586-4147 and 2586-4600. They can be called from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m., the ministry said.

The crush of those seeking prints also affected expats who also may be applying for certain forms of residency. Pensionado, rentista and other applications require fingerprints, too.

Those seeking prints for firearms permits will be allowed to show up without an appointment, the ministry said.

Some expats also may be trying to renew expired residency, something that is allowed by the amnesty. They, too, will need fingerprint appointments.

The ministry said that those applying must have a valid passport even if their Costa Rican visa is expired. Each person also needs a passport-size photo.

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