Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thankful

This is not a Thanksgiving post. But it is a post of thankfulness.

I am a legal permanent resident of Costa Rica. Have been for going on 15 years now. The residence document has to be renewed periodically. There was a time when I renewed for two or thee years at a time, but then that got lost, I think when I spent three years out of the country without renewing. So they put me back to the annual plan.

Mine comes up for renewal in April each year. (That's a key point. April. Remember that.) You can let it slide and renew it late, but it still comes up in April the following year. All in all, I can't complain too much (like that's ever stopped me) - it's nothing like dealing with Green Card issues in the States.

Anyway. In 2006, they switched from these cumbersome little residency booklets that don't fit in your wallet to actual cards - all high tech with a photo and holograms and an unreadable metallic panel on the back - a lot like a US Green Card, in fact. (Which, needless to say, haven't been green for years.)

ANYway.

So, in November 2006 (see above, re: letting it slide), I went in and got my renewal, and my spiffy new card, which expires in April 2007. (Remember that. April 2007.)

Then, not too long after I got mine, Immigration had issues with these spiffy new high-tech cards. Like, they couldn't get the blank cards, or they didn't have enough machines to print them, or something. Plus, as a government bureau, it was, of course, chronically backlogged. So they did an eminently sensible thing.

They gave everyone an automatic one-year renewal, no need to go in. If the card says, as mine does, that it expires on 04/07, then you don't have to go back until 04/08.

Is that not just six kinds of awesome?

So, some of you may have noticed that it's not 04/08 anymore. Yeah, it was an eventful April for me, and I never dealt with it. But now I have a real job and I'm getting ready to take a trip and stuff, and it's time to get the residency up to date.

You're supposed to get an appointment to go in and renew it, but the appointments are given out about three months in advance, and I let it slide too long for that. So I was planning to go in tomorrow - having the day off (yay, Gringo-owned company!) and having learned that Immigration takes walk-ins on Thursdays and Fridays.

Now.

This is a process that takes about 4 hours if you have an appointment. If you're going in without one, most people try to get there about two hours before the place even opens. I have an entire day and a 500-page book.

But.

This morning Rita gave me the phone number that you're supposed to call for the appointment - she said the guy at the call center was really helpful when she did hers, and I wanted to find out about what I needed to take with me, and the fees and stuff. She thought he could tell me. And there was even a chance that just having the appointment would be enough for most purposes, and I could skip tomorrow's odyssey.

So I called.

The call center guy, who was as nice as Rita said he would be, asked for my expiration date. (Erm. The expiration date on my card. Not my personal one.) Here's that important part. What's my expiration date? All together now: April 2007.

You know what he said?

He said the first four months of the year got an extra year's grace period. My residence card isn't actually expired. He said, call back in April 2009 and get an appointment.

And all of a sudden, I have a whole day off stretching before me tomorrow.

Thanks, Costa Rica.

3 comments:

pidomon November 26, 2008 9:58 PM  

the island continues to rock
good to know

konagod November 27, 2008 10:54 AM  

That has to be such a relief. I'll try to remember to remind you next April. Fat chance. I can't even keep track of my annual car inspection expiration dates!

The Cunning Runt November 27, 2008 9:46 PM  

Costa Rica has the dubious distinction of out-cooling the good ol' U.S.of A. to such an extent that I'm hanging my head in shame.

But Good News is Good News, and I'm happy to hear it!

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