This week, I broke my own record.
About 4 hours of pounding the pavement in Manta, Ecuador.
2 permanent residency visas for friends of mine.
And yes, its something easy enough you could actually do it yourself, or maybe with the help of someone that speaks Spanish.
You certainly dont have to pay a lawyer thousands to help with your visa.
Here´s the whole process I did:
1. First, make sure my friends brought down the following documents from the USA, their home country…
– Proof of pension (for the both of them to get the visa at least one of them needs a pension of $900 or higher, for a single person the requirement is min $800)
– Marriage certificate
– Birth certificates (just in case, although lately they are no longer asking for these)
– Criminial record check from where they ve lived the last 5 years (the document itself can be no older than 6 months)
– Certificate from the Ecuador consulate in your home country certifying the source of pension document. ( Certificado determinando la percepción de dicha jubilación, pensión) This is a new one since I helped someone with this last year!
All the above documents need to be apostilled by the Secetary of State in the State they are issued, and the proof of pension needs to be certified by the nearest Ecuador Consulate before coming.
2. Then, we went straight to the Immigration police (in Manta its the Immigration office on 4 de Noviembre, in Quito its the immigration office across from the Mall El Jardin), to get a document for each showing all their migratory movements in and out of Ecuador called the Certificado de Movimiento Migratorio. (cost $5 each) Elapsed time 20 minutes.
3. Then, we made color copies of the info page of both their passports and of the page showing their latest stamp upon entry to Ecuador. We also had passport photos taken of each. And then we printed off the official visa application form found here so each person could fill one in. I also bought a manilla folder to put all their documents. Elapsed time 15 minutes.
4. Then I translated the documents they brought from the States and went to a local notary next to the Pichincha Bank in the center of Manta where I had to verify my signiture as the document translator and get something called a RECONOCIMIENTO DE FIRMA. ($20). Anyone can translate the documents except the interested party. Elapsed time 1 hour 45 minutes.
5. Then in an internet cafe across the street from the bus terminal in the center of Manta I wrote up in Spanish a simple letter stating to the immigration department what they want to do (retire in Ecuador) and why they want to retire here (I said the weather). Example of letter here. Elapsed time 10 minutes.
6. Went with all the documents and my friends who were applying (they have to be present or you need to have a power of attorney document notarized) to the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores in the center of town in between the boardwalk area (Malecon) and the big Pichincha Bank. We got a turn and there was no wait and we turned in the folder with all the above. They also had to pay the application fee of $30 each. Click here for the official list of requirements. Elapsed time 20 minutes.
In two weeks they´ll have to go back to that same office once their visas are approved, pay the visa fee to the window ($320 each one time only) and then they will place the visas in the passports and give you 30 days to get a cedula which is your official Ecuadorian ID card (which (as of June 2014) you can not currently do in Manta, only Quito, Guayaquil or Cuenca).
Then they will be permanent Ecuador residents who can stay in country as long as they like.
Not bad for 4 hours.
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