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(506) 2223-1327      Published Monday, May 11, 2009,  in Vol. 9, No. 91     E-mail us
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Validating child's citizenship easier than for spouse
By Garland M. Baker
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Many expats who have built families with a Costa Rican want to get their natural or adopted offspring a U.S passport.  Some believe that since they are U.S. citizens the right to pass on U.S. citizenship is automatic.  It is not.  However, it does not need to be a daunting task either.

Whether expats are applying for their biological or stepchildren, the procedure seems to be less painstaking than getting their spouse U.S. citizenship.

In a nutshell, there are certain permanence requirements for the parents to be able to pass citizenship on to their biological, adopted or legitimated children, and the process is much smoother and faster for children under 18 years of age than for older children.

Parent requirements

Any child born in wedlock or legitimized as stepchild outside the United States to an American parent and a foreign parent can obtain U.S. citizenship, as long as the American parent resided in the U.S. for a certain amount of years prior to leaving the country.

Parents born on or after Nov. 14, 1986, need to have lived in the United States at least five years, of which two are required after the age of 14. If they were born between Dec. 24, 1952, and Nov. 13, 1986, they need to have lived 10 years in the U.S., of which five are required after the age of 14.

A child born out of wedlock to an American father and a foreign mother can obtain U.S. citizenship when meeting all the following requirements:

a.) a proven blood relationship between the applicant and the father; b.) the father had U.S. nationality at the time of the child’s birth; c.) the father agrees in writing to provide financial support for the child until he or she reaches 18 years of age; d.) the child is legitimized by the father in their birth country before 18 years of age.

A child born out of wedlock to an American mother and a foreign father may acquire U.S. citizenship if a.) the mother was a U.S. citizen at the time of the child’s birth and b.) the mother lived in the U.S. for one continuous year.

Immediate citizenship

According to the Citizenship and Immigration Services Web site, the Child Citizenship Act has streamlined the process for children to obtain citizenship as soon as they enter the U.S.

Children protected by the Child Citizenship Act are called newly entering IR-3 children, and they receive certificates of citizenship within 45 days of arriving to the U.S., without needing a permanent resident card and then filling out form N-600 to obtain citizenship, as outlined in the article on citizenship for spouses. If they wish to obtain their U.S. citizen status while living abroad, they need to apply at the U.S. Embassy using N-600K (Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322), which costs $460. However, children must travel with their parents to the United States to complete the application process.

Parents who wish to obtain a passport for their children must apply for it at the Department of State once they have received their citizenship certificates from Citizen and Immigration Services.

Children who qualify for this automatic process are:

a.) younger than 18 years of age;

b.) orphans whose adoption has been finalized in their country of birth or the United States;

c.) biological or legitimized children;

d.) children born out of wedlock to a naturalized mother;

e.) adopted children after completing two-year custody.

The Child Citizenship Act also requires American parents to have met the required time in the country to be able to request automatic citizenship for their biological or adopted children.

The following paperwork is necessary to qualify for automatic children citizenship:

a.) photographs of the child;

b.) fee (when applying from abroad, N-600K,

c.) child’s birth certificate;
passport for child

d.) American parent’s birth certificate;

e.) parents’ marriage certificate (if applicable);

f.) document for termination of previous marriages
(if applicable);

g.) document showing full and final adoption or
legitimacy (if applicable);

h.) evidence of all legal name changes (if applicable).


Biological, adopted or legitimized children older than 18 are required to undergo the standard process of residence and naturalization applicable to any immigrant.

According to a previous article on U.S. Citizenship, the American parent needs to request permanent residency for their child filing I-130 Petition for Alien Relative ($355) and any additional paperwork required by the U.S. Embassy proving the relationship between the parent and the child, as well as a medical exam required for the applicant.

The embassy’s Web site states that unmarried or married children over 18 obtain limited permanent residency, but no further information on this status is provided. The applicant must wait until Citizenship and Immigration Services approves the petition to be able to travel to the U.S. and apply for naturalization.

Once in the United States, the applicant must ask Citizen and Immigration Services if he or she qualify for an immediate visa number or if they need to wait, in which case, they should periodically check the Department of State's Visa Bulletin to get their visa number.

Applicants must stay five years in order to request citizenship, leaving the country for periods no longer than six months.

The Citizen and Immigration Services Web site specifies that once the permanence requirement is met, the applicant must proceed to file form N-400, along with the following:

a.) a check or money order for the application fee
of $675;

b.) a photocopy of both sides of the permanent
resident card;

c.) Two identical color photographs (wearing no eyeglasses or earrings), with name and “A-number” written in pencil on the back of the pictures. Those doing so should check the Guide to Naturalization for more details on photo requirements.

Besides the paperwork above, the applicant must pass English proficiency and U.S. civics tests, and show: a.) evidence of good moral character, b.) adherence to the Constitution principles and c.) a positive outlook of the United States. Once the latter requirements are fulfilled, an interview will be scheduled, after which they can take the oath to allegiance and obtain their citizenship.

In summary, expats who want to pass on their U.S. citizenship to their children have to qualify themselves based on their own permanence in the United States.  All immigration procedures seem like a bureaucratic endless torture, but to have the steps distilled into an outline like this one makes the task easier to understand and more palatable.

Garland M. Baker is a 36-year resident and naturalized citizen of Costa Rica who provides multidisciplinary professional services to the international community.  Reach him at  Baker has undertaken the research leading to these series of articles in conjunction with A.M. Costa Rica.  Find the collection at, a complimentary reprint is available at the end of each article.  Copyright 2004-2008, use without permission prohibited.

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Country Day joins forces
to offer online program

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The Country Day School in Costa Rica and K12International Academy have announced a partnership to offer an accredited online school program to students throughout Costa Rica.  The online private school program — a first of its kind in Costa Rica — will be called the CDS K12 International Academy.

Students who enroll in the CDS K12International Academy will have the opportunity to receive a complete education through an internationally-accredited private school that uses a curriculum developed by K12 Inc., the U.S. leader in online school programs for students in kindergarten through high school, said the Escazú-based school.   The school combines traditional, research-based curriculum approaches with 21st century innovations, such as interactivity, games, and powerful online learning platforms, according to an announcement.

The CDS K12 International Academy offers students a wide variety of courses, including core subjects, honors, advance placement, world languages, and other electives.  Students living anywhere in Costa Rica – even those located in geographically remote areas – will be able to earn a U.S. diploma through this cost-effective school option, said the school announcement.

“We are excited about our partnership with K12,” said Steve Katz, director of educational technology of The Country Day School in Costa Rica. “The future of technology at CDS focuses on promoting independent learning, differentiated instruction, and broadening students’ academic endeavors. K12 is an integral part of this plan.”

The Country Day School in Costa Rica is an American school serving an international population.  Established in 1963, the school has accreditations from Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools in the United States and Costa Rican Ministry of Education.  Each year, 100 percent of graduates are admitted to select universities and colleges, with about 90 percent going on to U.S. and Canadian universities and colleges, and 10 percent to Europe or elsewhere.  Students who attend receive an American high school diploma, and the curriculum also prepares students for the Costa Rican bachillerato examinations.

“This comprehensive online school program encompasses a rich curriculum that will meet the diverse needs of the international community here in Costa Rica,” said Gloria Doll, Country Day School director.  “Students will be able to access a myriad of courses they may not be able to otherwise which will extend and enrich their learning experiences.”

The K12International Academy is a U.S.-based private school that serves students in more than 35 countries worldwide.  The school is operated by K12 Inc., the U.S. leader in proprietary curriculum and online school programs for students in grades kindergarten through high school.   The school provides extensive, personalized support focused on each student’s individual needs using technology and experienced teachers who provide instruction, support and guidance.   The school is accredited by the Commission on International and Trans-Regional Accreditation. 

High School students at Country Day School already have been enrolled in a wide variety of secondary K12 online courses this past semester, and educators there anticipate the enrollment in these virtual courses to increase in the fall, one administrator said Friday.

Boston singers suspected
in seventh-grade flu case

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Some school administrators in Costa Rica suspect that a visiting group of Boston singers may have been unknowing vectors of swine flu.

As a result, one private institution, Father's Home School, closed last week for eight days and administrators say that one student, a seventh grader, is a likely swine flu victim. The Moravia institution hosted Canta Mundi, described as talented young musicians, ages 15 to 25, who believe that music, and especially choral music, can bridge oceans, people, and cultures.

About 40 of the Boston choir singers visited other schools in the area, too, under the auspices of the Ministerio de Cultura, Juventud y Deportes. A Father's Home administrator said that some of the singers developed flu when they returned home.

The choir singers may be themselves the victims of a bum rap because their schedule appears to have been directly from Boston to Costa Rica and return without visits to a country like México where the swine flu was developing. In addition, the singers were here two weeks ago.

Schools are taking extra precautions after one of the first certified swine flu victims died. The Coronado man suffered from additional health problems. Three young relatives, believed infected by the man, are recovering well, said the health ministry.

Saint Clare private elementary and high school in San Juan de la Unión closed for May 4 but reopened after a sick student was adjudged not to have swine flu.

At school students are being taught basic hygiene, including hand-washing. Students say they are being taught to wash their hands while singing the birthday song or another popular melody and to continue lathering the hands until the song is finished. In the United States some schools are encouraging the use of the alphabet song.

The Ministerio de Salud went on a sweep of stores Friday seeking out products that purported to offer protection from the flu. Health workers confiscated a number of products where the advertising was excessively promising, the ministry said. They homed in on homeopathic remedies that offered "natural protection" against the flu-like diseases.

Although ministry officials did not mention it, a number of spam e-mails also are offering swine flu medications and remedies.

Health workers also are becoming nervous by the imminent arrival of the rainy season that will produce many more cases of seasonal flu.

marijuana field
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía
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Officers in Coto Brus find marijuana interplanted with corn in an effort to hide the illegal crop.

Weekend sweep uncovers
three marijuana fields

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fuerza Pública officers rooted out marijuana in three locations this weekend, and they arrested an alleged pot farmer in Guayabo de Bagaces.

Destruction of marijuana plants is a routine ritual, and the weed grows with vigor in the Talamanca.

But it was in an area known as Paraíso between Coto Brus and Buenos Aires de Puntarenas where the Policía de Control de Drogas found nearly 2,000 plants in a corn field, they said.

They also reported finding 3,300 plants in Dimari de Alto Cuen, Talamanca.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, May 11, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 91

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This is the the bulk of some 750,000 cubic meters (980.963 cubic yards) of concrete to erect a dam 113 meters (371 feet) high, one of the highest in the world. major work site
Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad photos

Pirrís hydro project said to be on track despite Alma damage
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

This month a year ago Tropical Storm Alma lashed Costa Rica and caused heavy flooding, slides and deaths.

A major project to construct a new dam also was the victim of Alma.  The Instituto Costarricence de Electricidad and its contractor had to evacuate about 1,100 workers from the Pirrís hydroelectric project May 29 because of the storm, which then inflicted costly damage to the construction.

The work suffered a major setback.

But the government electrical and telecom company says the work is back on track and more than 61 percent completed.

The project is in the cantons of León Cortés and Terrazú in southern San José province. The project seeks to capture the power of the Río Pirrís to generate 128 megawatts. The company says that is enough energy to power 8,000 homes.

The work is one of gigantic proportions. Three shifts of 500 workers are on the job around the clock.

They have poured the bulk of some 750,000 cubic meters (980.963 cubic yards) of concrete to erect a dam 113 meters (371 feet) high, one of the highest in the world.

Below ground a 10,506-meter (6.5-mile) tunnel is being excavated to carry the river water to generating turbines in El Carmen de Bijagual de Aserrí. The tunnel is the
hydro tunnel
Inside the tunnel to the turbines, a metal tube is being installed to hold the water under pressure.

second longest that has been constructed in the country.

Tropical Storm Alma inflicted such damage on the construction site that the electrical institute was forced to renegotiate its contract with the Astaldi construction firm and take on more supervisory responsibilities.

Still, the firm says the job will be done next year.

Officials will meet to air their concerns about Río Sarapiquí
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

One place no one wants to be around in the next eight months are the banks of the Río Sarapiquí in the area where the Jan. 8 earthquake caused multiple and sometimes fatal slides.

The river banks and the canyons through which the river flows have large quantities of unstable material, and much is bound to fall and clog the river during rain season torrents, experts report.

Emergency officials are meeting today to outline strategies to mitigate the damage.

The national emergency commission reports that it has installed new radio equipment for river watchers in Cara Blanca, Cariblanco, Pata Gallo, Ujarrás, La Isla de Sarapiquí, La Virgen de Sarapiquí, Chilamate and San Miguel de Sarapiquí. Their job is to alert the population if evacuation is necessary, said the commission.

The commission also has installed two electronic monitors
that are supposed to keep track of any shifts in the land. These are connected to the commission headquarters in Pavas and the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional via  Internet.

The meeting today will be at the headquarters of the commission, formally known as the Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias. Emergency workers have said that the area of the earthquake gets between four and five meters of rain each year. That's between 13 and 16.5 feet.

This is an area in the mountains north of Heredia centro and Alajuela centro near the Volcan Poás.

The main concerns are that loose material will fall into the river and create temporary dams that will back up water until there is enough pressure that the dam breaks and walls of water scour the area downstream.

They also are worried about trees and boulders that also can inflict serious damage to infrastructure like some of the temporary bridges that have been erected.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, May 11, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 91

Owner suffers wound
trying to stop bar fight

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A bar owner in Puerto Jiménez tried to break up a fight early Sunday and ended up becoming the most seriously injured victim.

The bar owner, Gilberto Marín Calderón, 51, suffered multiple stab wounds, including one serious wound to the chest. He operates Bar Oasis in Boca Gallardo de Puerto Jiménez.

Another man, 29, also suffered less serious stab wounds, said officials. They said the man with the knife fled but was detained later.

Attendants had to take Marín by boat across the Gulfo Dulce to Golfito where he was airlifted by the Servicio de Vigilancia Aérea of the security ministry to Juan Santamaría airport where the man was taken by the Cruz Roja to the Hospital de Alajuela.

Phone company insisting
on prompt bill payment

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Times are getting tough and so is the phone company.

The company, the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, said it would cut off telephone and Internet users the day after the deadline to pay the monthly bills.

The company has not done that in the past and usually has given delinquent customers a couple of weeks of grace.

The company said in a weekend press release that it would suspend the service and also go after other services being supplied to the same user.

The company also said it would try to negotiate terms with those who simply could not pay.

Search to resume for tourist

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Rescue workers were to resume this morning the search for a missing tourist at Playa Azul, Santa Cruz. The missing man is the brother of another man who died in the surf Sunday afternoon.  Both were caught by a rip tide.

The search was called off at sundown Sunday. Both men are said to be U.S. citizens.

wounded man arrives
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y Seguridad Pública photo
Gilberto Marín is received by rescue workers at Juan Santamaría airport.

Suspected getaway driver
caught after Pozos heist

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fuerza Pública officers Friday set up roadblocks and managed to catch a man they characterized as a robbery getaway driver in Escazú centro.

Two men robbed a supermarket in Pozos de Santa Ana Friday of 800,000 colons and fled in a Hyundai Excel that witnesses said was driven by a third person.

The man who was stopped in Escazú told officers he was a porteador or contract driver and that he dropped off two men at the Guachipelín bridge. But the car matched the description of the getaway vehicle, officers said.

The amount stolen is about $1,400.

Law enforcement unit
raided in fraud probe

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Agents in the fraud section of the judicial police raided two private offices and the agency's own forensic medicine complex in San Joaquin de Flores Friday. They were investigating three professionals who work for the Judicial Investigating Organization.

They said the individuals were sociologists and psychiatrists who are not suppose to treat private patients under terms of their contract. Agents said that they were investigating to see if the trio used government facility for private business and during work hours. The private offices raided were in Escazú centro and Heredia centro, the judicial police said.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, May 11, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 91

A.M. Costa Rica

users guide

This is a brief users guide to A.M. Costa Rica.

Old pages

Each day someone complains via e-mail that the newspages are from yesterday or the day before. A.M. Costa Rica staffers check every page and every link when the newspaper is made available at 2 a.m. each week day.

So the problem is with the browser in each reader's computer. Particularly when the connection with the  server is slow, a computer will look to the latest page in its internal memory and serve up that page.

Readers should refresh the page and, if necessary, dump the cache of their computer, if this problem persists. Readers in Costa Rica have this problem frequently because the local Internet provider has continual problems.


The A.M. Costa Rica search page has a list of all previous editions by date and a space to search for specific words and phrases. The search will return links to archived pages.


A typical edition will consist of a front page and four other newspages. Each of these pages can be reached by links near the top and bottom of the pages.


Five classified pages are updated daily. Employment listings are free, as are listings for accommodations wanted, articles for sale and articles wanted. The tourism page and the real estate sales and real estate rentals are updated daily.

Advertising information

A summary of advertising rates and sizes are available for display and classifieds.


A.M. Costa Rica makes its monthly statistics available to advertisers and readers. It is HERE! 

Contacting us

Both the main telephone number and the editor's e-mail address are listed on the front page near the date.

Visiting us

Directions to our office and other data, like bank account numbers are on the about us page.

150 governments ban
nine organic pollutants

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Officials from 150 governments have agreed to ban the production of nine of the world's most hazardous chemicals.  These substances join a list of 12 other so-called persistent organic pollutants that are prohibited under a 2001 international treaty known as the Stockholm Convention.  The week-long meeting was held under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Program.

The newly targeted chemicals include products that are widely used in pesticides and flame-retardants, and in a number of other commercial uses, such as a treatment for head lice.

These nine toxic chemicals will join the Stockholm Convention's original list of 12 Persistent Organic Pollutants, referred to as the "dirty dozen."

The pollutants are especially dangerous because they cross boundaries and travel long distances, from the Equator to the Arctic.  They persist in the atmosphere and take many years, often decades, to degrade into less dangerous forms. They pose great risks to the environment and human health, especially to young people, farmers, pregnant women, the unborn and the food chain.

The governments also decided to continue the use of the pesticide DDT on a limited basis to combat malaria.   The goal, they say, is to eventually eliminate DDT.  But, they recognize that some countries will continue to use the pesticide to protect their citizens from malaria and other diseases.
Venezuela takes control
of 60 well servicing firms

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Venezuelan government has seized the assets of 60 local and foreign-owned oil services firms. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez announced the seizures Friday, saying they were authorized under a law passed Thursday by the national assembly.

Among the firms whose assets were taken is Oklahoma-based Williams Companies, which said the government took control of two natural gas facilities. The company said it is seeking repayment of millions of dollars in services fees owed by state-run companies in Venezuela.

The takeovers come as Venezuela's state oil company, PDVSA, tries to renegotiate contracts with foreign and domestic oil companies in a bid to lower costs. 

PDVSA has accumulated billions of dollars of debt with contractors as oil prices fall, shrinking government revenue. Foreign companies such as the Texas-based Boots & Coots International Well Control had suspended work over delayed payments. 

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A.M. Costa Rica
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, May 11, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 91

Latin American news digest
U.S. seeks more diplomats
and will pay off U.N. debt

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

State Department officials say the Obama administration is planning a major increase in the size of the overseas U.S. diplomatic corps as part of its commitment to international engagement. The expansion of U.S. diplomacy is a key element of the nearly $54 billion international affairs budget sent to Congress Friday.

The Obama administration has promised the exercise of what it terms smart power in international affairs that puts diplomacy and foreign aid on an equal footing with military action. Its new budget makes at least a down-payment on that doctrine by financing a major build-up in the U.S. diplomatic presence abroad.

At a briefing for reporters, senior officials said the $54 billion budget for the next fiscal year — a 9 per cent increase over current spending levels — sets in motion a 25 per cent increase in the size of the 6,600 member State Department foreign service corps over three years.

The number of overseas employees of the U.S. Agency for International Development, which administers U.S. aid programs, would be doubled from the current level of 1,000 employees — in keeping with a plan to double U.S. foreign aid by 2015.

The officials say the Obama administration plans to cut back on the use of private contractors in U.S. overseas programs, a practice that has been controversial — especially in Iraq where American security contractors were involved in shooting incidents that led to civilian deaths.

The new foreign affairs budget would, among other things, fully fund U.S. financial commitments to international organizations and development banks including the elimination of long-standing U.S. arrears to the United Nations.

The United States has in the past withheld dues from some U.N. activities like controversial family-planning programs, and disputed some assessments for peace-keeping. Officials said further arrears are incompatible with the new administration's commitment to multi-lateralism.

The new budget further enhances training for U.S. diplomats in languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Hindi and Urdu — reflecting a shift in emphasis begun by the Bush administration in overseas deployments. It also provides funds for security upgrades or entirely new U.S. embassies and missions in critical posts, among them Kabul, Islamabad, Peshawar, Sanaa and Dakar.

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