In January alone this year, the Civil Registry (Registro Civil) filed 33 complaints with the Attorney General’s office for “matrimonios simulados” (sham marriages), marriages used by foreigners to apply for naturalization.
The number of complaints for the non-existent marriages reached a record level in 2013, with 265 charges filed, up from 144 in 2012. In 2011 and 201o there were 17 and 18 cases, respectively.
According to Luis Chinchilla, director of the Civil Registry, calls made to the Costa Rican to confirm the marriage has led to the high number of cases uncovered. Chinchilla says that in many cases officials get the answer, “I’m not married to anyone”, leading to corroboration of suspicions.
Chinchilla added that in some cases people admit to having received payment from a foreigner in exchange for marriage to obtain naturalization, while in other cases the investigation digs deeper.
In all cases, the Costa Rican national is asked to file a complaint with the Civil Registry, which is then passed on to the Attorney General’s office for formal filing with the Family Court, to annul the inexistent marriage.