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20 years

Government seeking to annul 221 “marriages of convenience”

June 5th, 2013 ( The Civil Registry and the Attorney General’s Office is seeking the annulment of 221 marriages between Costa Ricans and foreigners which the government believes were “marriages of convenience,” in order for foreigners to obtain residency in the country.


Attorney General, Ana Lorena Brenes, said that eight bogus marriages have already been annulled, and the residency status of the foreigners involved revoked, and Brenes is confident that authorities will win future cases.


Authorities report an increase in these sort of bogus marriages – only twelve cases were reported in 2011, versus 144 in 2012 and already 65 such cases in 2013.


Many such cases are brought to the attention of authorities when the foreigner involved makes an application for residency by marriage.  In many cases, the “spouse” denies the marriage when contacted by immigration officials.  In other cases, the Costa Rican involved reveals the false marriage when they want to marry someone else.


According to authorities, many Costa Ricans involved in the bogus marriages receive little compensation – sometimes as little as ¢ 5,000 to ¢ 50,000.


Foreigners seeking such marriages include Cubans, Chinese, Nicaraguans, Venezuelans, and Colombians.  American citizens are also known to arrange for such marriages, including Arthur Budovsky, an American citizen and founder of Liberty Reserve, which is charged with running the largest money laundering operation in history.  It has since been revealed that Budovsky may have paid a Costa Rican woman $600 to marry him, in order to eventually obtain Costa Rican citizenship.


Last year alone, some 4,400 foreigners were granted Costa Rican citizenship through marriage.

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