- How many years have you been working in the Ecuadorian Visa industry?
About 11 years
- There are reportedly 30 different types of visas in Ecuador. Is that currently true?
Correct, between Tourist visas, Temporary resident visas and Permanent visas, and their categories and subcategories, we have around 30 different visa categories in Ecuador.
- What are the various types of Ecuadorian visas and what are their requirements?
Pursuant to the Migration Law, foreigners may apply for one of the following types of visas:
- Temporary resident visa;
- Exceptional temporary resident visa;
- Permanent resident visa;
- Diplomatic visa;
- Humanitarian visa;
- Tourist visa;
- Visa by international agreement; and,
- Visa for commercial acts and other activities.
The main requirements for all resident visa categories are:
- have registered the entry to Ecuador at one of the official immigration control points, and be in a regular (legal) immigration situation.
- Valid passport, with a minimum validity period of six (6) months
- Police report (background check) from the country of origin or in which the person has resided during the last five years. This must be duly apostilled or legalized, and translated into Spanish by a certified translator.
- Show proof of income or livelihood.
- In the case that a person has a police record, additional requirements may apply (court records, interview with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
The Temporary residency visa has different categories:
- Work (under contract).
When a foreign person has an employment contract issued by public entity or private employer in Ecuador.
- Self-employed; professional, civil, consulting services or by sponsorship.
For foreigners who are contracted for professional, civil or consulting services; or those who have an Operating Permit granted by a local Government.
- Remote worker (digital nomad)
When a person owns their own company; or work for a person or company domiciled abroad, to carry out professional or service activities, remotely, digitally, or teleworking. Their monthly income shall be equal to or greater than (3) three Ecuadorian Basic Salaries.
* The current Ecuadorian Basic Salary is $450 per month.
When a foreigner receives legal income abroad or in Ecuadorian territory proceeding from rents, investments, etc. The applicant must present documentation such as lease contracts, investment titles and other similar documents, which show that they receive a monthly income equal to or greater than (3) three Ecuadorian Basic Salaries.
For retirees receiving a monthly pension payment from abroad, equal to or greater than (3) three Ecuadorian Basic Salaries.
For foreigners who are investing in Ecuadorian banks, credit unions, buying property, or owning shares in Ecuadorian companies. The investment amount shall be not less than one hundred (100) Ecuadorian Basic Salaries.
- Title, policy or certificate of deposit for a minimum term of seven hundred thirty (730) days.
- Deed of sale of a property located in national territory, registered in the Property Registry of the respective city.
- Document proving the ownership of shares or participations in an Ecuadorian company, duly registered with the Superintendency of Companies, Securities and Insurance.
- Scientist, researcher or academic.
When a person is hired by a public or private entity for a specific project due to his specialty; showing accreditation or professional degree in the subject matter of the project.
- Athlete, artist, cultural manager.
When a person is contracted by an institution, sports club, producer, non-governmental organization, or other organization related to this category, whose headquarters are legally constituted in Ecuadorian territory.
- Religious or religious volunteer.
When an institution or organization sponsors a foreign person based on the mission of the religious entity; as long as the beneficiary provides his services as a religious or religious volunteer, free of charge in the institution or organization and will not carry out other economic activities.
- Volunteer, missionary.
When an institution or non-governmental organization sponsors a foreign person based on the object or mission of the entity; as long as the beneficiary provides his services free of charge in the institution or organization and will not carry out other economic activities.
The person who has enrolled in or been admitted to an Ecuadorian public or private educational institution as a regular student in basic, secondary, undergraduate, postgraduate education; or to carry out pre-professional or professional practices.
- Professional, technician, technologist or craftsman.
The person who holds a Professional degree, title of technician or technologist, duly registered with the competent Ecuadorian authority (SENESCYT).
- Legal representatives of legal entities, or administrative management positions.
Foreign persons who hold positions of legal, commercial or other similar representation, in national or foreign companies and/or companies, that have a minimum share capital of 100 Ecuadorian Basic Salaries.
- Resident by international agreement.
For specific international agreements or instruments signed by Ecuador
- Dependent (Persons covered by the holder of the migratory category).
For children, spouse or partner in common-law union, of a Temporary Residency visa holder. The applicant must present documents that allow to determine the kinship or the marriage bond or the common-law union, between the dependent and the holder of the temporary residence visa.
- Marine crew member.
The foreign person who is part of the team of special, commercial or industrial vessels.
- Government collaborators, non-governmental organizations, and foreign press.
For officials, experts, members or consultants of foreign governmental or non-governmental organizations that have signed an operating agreement with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as foreign press correspondents residing in Ecuadorian territory.
- Persons under international protection.
For people recognized as refugees and/or stateless persons
Exceptional temporary residence
For particular cases, when deemed necessary by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Diplomatic visa
- Humanitarian visas (has 4 subcategories).
Given for exceptional reasons of a humanitarian nature, to victims of natural or environmental disasters, victims of human trafficking and others.
The Permanent residency visa has the following categories:
- For completion of twenty-one (21) months as a resident.
When a person has resided in Ecuador under a Temporary Resident visa for over 21 months, and has not left Ecuador for over 90 days during that period of time.
- By marriage or common-law union with an Ecuadorian citizen or a foreign person with permanent residence. For this, the marriage or common-law union must be registered with the Ecuadorian Civil Registry office.
- Minor or person with a disability dependent on an Ecuadorian citizen or a foreign person with permanent residence.
- Family members up to the second degree of consanguinity or affinity of an Ecuadorian citizen or a foreign person with permanent residence.
- It is reported that various visa offices, for instance those in Quito vs. those in Azogues have different interpretations of Ecuadorian Visa laws. Is that correct?
These differences used to be more notorious before the latest Regulations to the Migration Law were issued in March 2022. Nowadays most offices have mostly the same requirements for visa processing, however, each Ministry of Foreign Affairs office and even the Consulate offices still have slightly different requirements or procedures; e.g. some require bank statements to be notarized and some others do not, some offices are more strict than others when an applicant has some type of police record, most offices have totally different processing times, etc.
- There is a belief among some Expats that Visa offices are just a giant shakedown office. That their main goal is to keep changing the requirements until an Expat finally breaks down and simply opens their wallet to pay a bribe. On a scale of 1 – 10 with 1 being ridiculous and 10 being absolutely true, how true would you, in your professional opinion, say this statement is?
Fortunately, this is no longer the case. Since requirements and procedures have been unified and regulated for all offices, now most applicants know exactly what is required and if a person has all requirements in place, the government officials cannot shakedown the applicant. However, I cannot say that corruption has been totally eradicated, so in that scale I would say some offices are a 2 and some others are a 6.
- If a visa attorney tells an Expat that they will need to pay a bribe to get their visa, in your professional opinion, how likely is this to be true: 0 = impossible, 10 = Almost certainly true.
Unfortunately, some visa facilitators use this excuse to get some extra money for themselves, or they would really pay a bribe; this would be an 8
- If you were an Expat and a visa attorney said he needs some money to pay a bribe, with the knowledge that you have, what would you say or do?
I would ask “why?”. Why is there a need for a bribe? Did the attorney not obtain the necessary requirements for my application? Is there something wrong with my documentation? Why isn’t the attorney able to process my application on a regular way? Is it that the government official is delaying my application processing just to get a bribe?
Just a note here: sometimes visa attorneys offer additional services for an extra cost in order to expedite the process, for example the attorney would ask if the client wants him to travel to a different city (or hire an associate) and apply there to shorten the processing times and avoid having to get a tourist extension visa.
Most Expats think they have four options for obtaining a visa: 1. Do it themselves, 2. Hire a visa attorney, 3. Hire a company that specializes in obtaining visas, 4. Hire a well recommended facilitator to help them acquire a visa. Are there other options?
These are the main options; however, I would add the option of paying for a consultation with a visa attorney or a company that specializes in obtaining visas to get a good idea of the visa options and requirements, and then do the process themselves (if the applicants definitely wish to do it themselves); or to pay the visa company to do a portion of the work (just obtain the documents and apostille them, or just present the documents to the Ministry office)
- Knowing what you do now, which order of preference would you choose these options for acquiring a visa?
I would recommend:
– Hire a company that specializes in obtaining visas.
– Hire a visa attorney.
– Hire a well recommended facilitator to help them acquire a visa.
– Do it themselves.
Note that there are many people who have successfully completed the visa work by themselves, my sincere congratulations to you!
- What are the biggest mistakes Expats make when acquiring a visa?
The biggest mistake expats make would be:
Not obtaining the complete necessary documents duly certified and apostilled. For example, some expats would not obtain the right form of Police report for international use, or would not have the document certified on the proper way according to the protocols established for international use. Or some expats would not bring all the documents that are necessary for the visa application.
Another big mistake is not planning the timing correctly, since there are many factors to consider when moving to a different country like:
- How long will it take to obtain all the necessary documents and have them apostilled?
- How long are the documents valid for?
- What are the steps for obtaining my visa and how long will each step take to be completed?
- How long can I stay as a tourist in Ecuador?
- How long will it take to receive my visa once I have the complete documentation?
- If I´m shipping my household goods to Ecuador, how long will it take to arrive, and will I need a visa to get my container through customs?
- What are the smartest things an Expat can do before and during the Visa process?
First talk to a visa professional and define a realistic target moving date and set up a plan. Follow the instructions and ask as many questions as you need to be confident that the visa agent is doing the work on schedule. Also, keep track of your documentation expiration dates, tourist visa expiration dates, and make sure to have a backup plan in case some rules change or a document gets lost in the mail, etc. You have to be patient; dealing with government agencies, universities, banks, etc. is not always easy; response times from public institutions both in your home country and in Ecuador will not be the best. Another tip: keep clear digital copies of all your documents, ID cards, passport, and even old documents like your birth certificate, previous marriage or divorce documents, etc.
- What have you seen to be the dumbest mistakes Expats make while acquiring a visa?
Some can react in a really bad way when after all the work they went through to gather the documents the Ministry officer tells them that there is something missing or they need to bring an extra document. This can be fatal to your visa application, it is always best to smile, and kindly ask the officer to give you a couple of hours (or the time necessary) to bring that additional piece of paper; if the requirement you missed is actually one of the main requirements and there is no chance to get it soon, then your mistake was not hiring a visa professional.
- What are some things you would recommend Expats look for when acquiring a visa?
If you are looking to hire a visa professional, check their reviews, talk to them in person or by phone to make sure they can properly communicate with you, and set up a plan with them. Check what work will be done by the visa company/attorney and what you will have to do; define what is included in their fee and if they are able to get more work done on your behalf (fingerprints, request documents, apostilles, etc). If they do not ask you many specific questions before requesting the visa documents, it is likely that they will miss some important information in the future or your paperwork will not be complete for the application.
- What would you say:
- Is a reasonable price for acquiring a visa from start to finish?
Many visa companies charge around $1600 for the process. Considering that the process will take several months, and you will have the peace of mind of having a professional assist you, I would say this is a reasonable price. A visa process including fingerprints, apostilles, Power of attorney, and everything required to complete the process, can cost around $2100; this sound like a lot, but the amount of work that the visa company will do on your behalf is definitely worth it.
- What are the exceptions to this?
If a person’s case requires some type of special processing, rush services, additional documentation, etc. the prices will go up. If there are various members to a family obtaining a visa, you will most likely get a discount.
- What is:
- The longest amount of time you’ve seen for someone to acquire a visa?
Around 3 years, but because it was the client’s decision to get one part of the process completed initially, and then postponed his moving date.
- The shortest amount of time you’ve seen for someone to acquire a visa?
In the latest years, after the pandemic, around 3 months including the obtention of police reports, apostille, etc.
- What are the most common misconceptions that you have seen from Expats when trying to get a visa?
- That a name change or spelling differences in their name shown in the passport vs other documents should not matter.
- That an apostilled document is valid no matter if it was apostilled incorrectly.
- That the government officials should trust what the applicant says, without having official documentation to prove it.
- That Ecuador as a third world country should welcome anyone with money, no matter if they meet the requirements or not. (Rick, I don’t know if you should put this, but it is true haha)
- Are there any other comments or recommendations that you would like to make about getting a visa here in Ecuador?
Ask for advise to an expert even if you do not hire them for the whole process. Make a plan, and be patient. And overall, moving to a different country will have many challenges, accept them and enjoy Ecuador, we will be happy to have you here!