April 27, 2010
St. Michaels, Maryland, USA
Yesterday I told you about the official way to go about obtaining residency and citizenship in the Dominican Republic– essentially, it takes about four years from start to finish until you receive your passport, though you may be expedited for investing $200,000 in the local economy.
As I mentioned, though, the country is [in]famous for shady practices like issuing passports that do not conform to official procedure. Local bureaucrats accept personal payments to backdate applications and residency permits, and higher level politicians play ball for a piece of the pie.
To be clear, this is illegal, even in the Dominican Republic. If you are a US citizen, it is also a violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act… so effectively you could be in technical violation of the law in two countries.
Obviously, the FCPA is a ridiculous and naive law that puts Americans at a disadvantage. Bribery and corruption make the world go ’round… yet in the US, these hallmarks commerce are only reserved for the political establishments.
Regardless of the insanity of this law, however, it’s generally not worth taking the legal risk and putting yourself in a situation where you could be fined, imprisoned, or have your shiny new passport confiscated.
The other thing thing you have to consider is that, most of the time, these illegitimate passport options have substantially higher risk of being fraudulent. I’ve come across this in the Dominican Republic in particular.
To paint a clear picture, I asked a friend of mine (non-US person) who is in the weeds of the illegitimate passport process in Santo Domingo to describe her experiences. This is what she had to say:
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