Permanent Residency the Surest and Hardest Way: Have a Costa Rican Baby



Permanent Residency the Surest and Hardest Way: Have a Costa Rican Baby

by Tao Watts in Costa Rica 

When I got my permanent residency, almost 25 years ago, I (unintentionally) did it the surest, but hardest way: I had given birth to a Costa Rican and was told that I could become a permanent resident. These days, it is called “having an anchor baby,” qualifying for residency through familial ties, or residencia permanent por vinculo familiar.

The reason that it was the surest way, is that having been born in Costa Rica, my son was automatically a citizen, and I, as his mother, and sole guardian, was entitled to become a permanent resident by means of familial ties, or por vinculo familiar. This type of residency is offered to parents or guardians of Costa Rican citizens. The primary requirement is that your name is on the birth certificate of a Costa Rican citizen. If both parents are foreign nationals, each parent must apply for residency as the principal applicant. Any other dependent minor children who are not Costa Rican citizens are also allowed to obtain residency as dependents of Costa Rican permanent residents.

Most of the basic documents are still required when applying for residency of this type, but approval is almost guaranteed. This type of residency is sin limites, meaning that I can work in any capacity, and basically have all the rights of a citizen, except that of voting or running for office. There are so many advantages when presenting my cedula, whether it’s trying to open a business, get a phone line, or cable tv. And while foreigners do have limited access to healthcare, education, and public services, having permanent residency has made so many processes and forms so much easier, and created opportunities that non-residents, or temporary residents do not benefit from.

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After my son was born, in an off-grid cabina in the Osa Peninsula jungle, assisted by midwives, I registered his birth with the local police department, filled out the forms, with the midwife as a witness, and within a few weeks, his birth was registered in the Registro Civil, and I received his birth certificate for Costa Rica. I then took that to the American Embassy in Pavas and registered his birth as an American Born Abroad. Having the Costa Rican birth certificate was the first step in applying for residency for me, and getting his US birth certificate was the first step in applying for a US passport for him.

Single motherhood was not easy, that is why I joke and say it was the hardest way. but I believe, overall, that it was easier raising my son here in Costa Rica than it would have been anywhere else. As a bilingual, bicultural child, he had influences from both worlds and needed to learn to be a good citizen, not only of his native culture, but also be educated in the history, traditions, and cultural influences, of the US, and the world. He had a simpler life, with a good amount of time spent in Nature, at the beach, or by the river. He learned to read early, and had books and movies, and eventually even satellite tv cartoons available to him. He is fluent in English and Spanish, and attended both Costa Rican public schools and a private bi-lingual school, and had supplemented education at home.

Thanks to the internet and satellite tv since his early years, he has had solid exposure to world history, science, literature, and art, not always presented in the Costa Rican public school curriculum.

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We made several trips to the Us throughout his life so he could meet his family there, and enjoy some of what US kids are into. Being the sole guardian of a Costa Rican minor, meant that I had to register my exits from the country when we traveled, with PANI, at the airport, and receive permission to take him out of the country. But once he came of a certain age, he was free to travel by himself, and eventually moved to the US to study and work for a time. Now that he is an adult, he still has dual citizenship and can travel and work in the US, and Costa Rica.

About The Author

Tao Watts - is a long-time resident in Costa Rica, having spent over half of her life here. She has worked as a hospitality manager, chef, real estate broker, business owner, and artisan chocolate maker. She now consults for people who are looking to start businesses in Costa Rica and assists them with the logistics and learning the processes.