Dual citizens are torn by mixed loyalties
Becoming a citizen of Costa Rica is a long, tedious road.
The process is slow and requires patience. Filling out the forms is easy enough, but every document presented to el Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones or Supreme Court of Elections is put under a microscope to see if one qualifies. The mere misspelling of a word or name in any document can put the process on hold for months or years.
Once the wait is over, taking the oath of citizenship is a joyful day. One truly feels part of the country much more so than being a permanent resident.
Here are the different types of Costa Rica citizenship:
By birth: Children born within the territory of Costa Rica, regardless of the nationality of the parents, have the right to Costa Rican citizenship.
By decent: Children born abroad have the right to Costa Rican citizenship if at least one parent is a citizen of Costa Rica.
By naturalization: Central Americans, Spaniards and Latin Americans by birth who have lived in the country for at least five years can apply for Costa Rican citizenship. Central Americans, Spaniards and Latin Americans, other than by birth, as well as foreign nationals who have lived in the country for at least seven years can also apply for citizenship.
Foreigners who have married a citizen of Costa Rica can apply for Costa Rican citizenship after two years.
As of June 6, 1995, articles 16 and 17 of the Costa Rican Political Constitution were modified to state that there are no grounds for loss of Costa Rican citizenship even if there is a voluntary or involuntary reason to
renounce it. This means you can never lose citizenship once you obtain it. This change to the constitution came about because Dr. Franklin Chang, a Costa Rican-born scientist and NASA astronaut, became a U.S. citizen
and was consequently stripped of his Costa Rican citizenship. There was a public outcry in Costa Rica. The country did not want to lose such an illustrious Tico to the United States. In response, the law was changed.
What is dual citizenship?
A person is considered a dual national when he or she owes allegiance to more than one country at the same time.
Can one keep U.S. citizenship after becoming a Costa Rican?
Yes. However, the U.S. government does not encourage this as a matter of policy because of the problems it may cause.
Dual nationals owe allegiance to both the United States and the foreign country, and they are required to obey the laws of both countries.
The country where a dual national lives generally has a stronger claim to that person’s allegiance.
Recognizing the trend, the United States is tolerant of dual citizenship despite the stern wording in the U.S. naturalization oath where one renounces allegiance to all other nations.
In other words, the United States looks the other way. The United States is merely accepting a growing reality.
One of the most important reasons the United States permits dual citizenship with Costa Rica is because there is no army here and one does not have
to swear to protect the country, just to uphold the constitution.
One of every 100 people on earth lives outside their country of birth. Transmigration in recent decades has reached an unprecedented scale. With the shrinking of the world through cheap travel and telecommunications,
governments are beginning to catch up with an unstoppable trend — dual or even multi-citizenship.
A second or even a third passport has become not just a link to a homeland but also a glorified travel visa, a license to do business, a stake in a second economy, an escape hatch, even a status symbol.
There are also practical reasons to carry two passports. It is much easier to travel in countries that are antagonistic to Americans with a passport from Costa Rica, which is known as a peaceful country, sometimes
referred to as “Little Switzerland.”
On a personal note, this writer is very happy to have gone through the process to become a naturalized Costa Rican citizen even though the “tramite” or “red tape” took two years and six months. The new identification card or cédula will take some getting used to. It now reflects two last names, both father’s and mother’s. My mother’s is a very long and difficult to pronounce Russian-German name. Nobody in Costa Rica can pronounce Garland let alone Brungardt. In fact, this is why the process took so long. No one at the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones could get it right.