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2015 - anybody in the Ecuador visa pipelines?

HelenPivoine wrote:

an inexpensive - I mean less than $25 - hosteleria where I can stay for say, 3 nights

For rates and ratings, visit www.hostelword.com

cccmedia

Congratulations to DorothyPeck!
I just got all of my documents sent off to my Ecuadorean attorney. After trying to figure out which documents I need and how to get them legalized, and running into lots of conflicting information about changing requirements, I went with EcuaAssist. Their fee, including all of the government fees for both Visa and cedula, is $1250 per person for my wife and myself. I gave them a limited power of attorney so they can asubmit the application while I'm still in the US; that way if there's a problem, I can deal with documents more conveniently. So far, it has been a very positive experience. I used a channeler for the FBI check; they process it in one day. Shop around, prices vary depending on which you use. Don't use an apostille service; the government is pretty fast, and the service will cost a lot more.
So far the only snag has been with the Social Security Documents. I ordered them by phone, and they come with no signature. Still I sent them off for the apostille, and they were approved. My attorney says that even with the apostille, they can be rejected, but I could sign an affidavit stating they are genuine, have it notarized and apostilled at state level, or I could send my last three bank statements showing the deposits. I opted for the bank statements, as I already had them. We'll see if they pass muster; if not, I'm still in the US and can make a trip to the social security office as needed.
I have the option, once everything is approved, of picking the visa up at a consulate in the US, or going to the visa office in Manta to pick it up. Apparently the office in Quito won't accept the application fro the attorney, we'd have to go there in person. I live in Portland, OR, and the nearest consulate is in San Francisco, so Manta is the best option for me.
I've read a lot about DIY visas; for me the peace of mind of having someone to do it for me is worth the extra cost.
We leave for Quito on September 4; today is my first Monday of retirement- how strange it feels to not be rushing off to work! The rest of the summer, we're working on getting the house ready to sell, and hopefully the visas will be ready to be picked up when we get to Ecuador. We're going to try Cotacachi first; we've been there several times and made some friends. If Cotacachi feels to small, we'll go to Cuenca, which we also love.
Now we get to have our first real taste of Ecuadorean red tape. Ojala, it will go smoothly.
John

johnplov wrote:

Congratulations to DorothyPeck!
I just got all of my documents sent off to my Ecuadorean attorney. After trying to figure out which documents I need and how to get them legalized, and running into lots of conflicting information about changing requirements, I went with EcuaAssist. Their fee, including all of the government fees for both Visa and cedula, is $1250 per person for my wife and myself. I gave them a limited power of attorney so they can asubmit the application while I'm still in the US; that way if there's a problem, I can deal with documents more conveniently.

Good luck in your quest, sounds like as soon as your house is sold you will be off.  Gotta believe a lot of economic refugees won't be able to afford $2,500/couple for said services.  Please let us know how and when it all works out.  Is said service also available for Canadians?

johnplov wrote:

After trying to figure out which documents I need and how to get them legalized, and running into lots of conflicting information about changing requirements, I went with EcuaAssist....

I gave them a limited power of attorney so they can asubmit the application while I'm still in the US; that way if there's a problem, I can deal with documents....

I've read a lot about DIY visas; for me the peace of mind of having someone to do it for me is worth the extra cost.

I commend you on being well-organized, John.

Re-capping the benefits of having the visa application submitted before leaving the U.S. (only a few firms seem to offer this)...

1.  As John mentioned, it keeps the document-compilation process simpler.

2.  Saves you from having to go to multiple unknown government-offices once in Ecuador.

3.  As in John’s case, it saves you from managing a steep, one-time learning curve on your own.

4.  You get support when unexpected problems appear.  In my case, the U.S. State Department unaccountably refused to apostille my FBI background report the first time, causing a delay beyond the deadline in submitting the visa application (I was already in Quito).  My attorney, Sebastian Cordero of Quito, obtained for me the rare 45-day temporary-visa-extension that I had never heard of, saving the day.

cccmedia in Quito

I think it is a combination of all three factors that you cited

Hi
Any interest in a private  non-success story ?

Lonecowboy wrote:

Any interest in a private non-success story ?

Sure.  Spill it.

ccc
Assure me this is private.

Lonecowboy wrote:

ccc
Assure me this is private.

If you post here, it’ll be read by just you and me ... and, of course, the 612 other members of the Ecuador forum.

Oh, plus some of the other 1.8 million members and inactive members of expat.com ....

Plus, of course, the staff at the Home Office in the Mascarene Islands.

If that’s not private enough, you could send me a PM or private message by clicking on my avatar at any of my post(s) on this thread.

That would truly be private, since I’d be bound to secrecy by my commitment to the forum and Julian’s trust in me.

cccmedia, on the road in Salento, Quindíos, Colombia

Hi CCC
As I don't know what is an 'avatar' I guess I'll just forget it.
Maybe, if you're interested. you could send me a PM when you get back 'home'.

Lonecowboy,
If you hover your mouse pointer over the picture of cccmedia (his "avatar") you'll be able to click and gain access to sending a private message (PM). You could also click on his name at the top for the same result. Just be sure to let him know you sent a PM. Sometimes such missives can go unnoticed  ;)

Dorothy

Thanks Dorothy

I can highly recommend Attorney Pablo Espinoza and his team Helping Expats Group. They are a great group of professionals who will guide you in the complete process for a very reasonable price.

Email: helping-expats-group[at]hotmail.com

Good Luck!

Or you can do it yourself, perhaps with some help from those who have done it.
When you do it yourself, you learn much and the process is not complicated........

I got all of my paperwork to our attorney, and it was filed with the government 6 weeks ago. Our attorney told us that typical processing time is 6-8 weeks. We leave for QUito in 13 days, and are hoping the visas will be ready by then.
Because we filed via an attorney, and not in person, we have to pick up the visas at the Manta office Our plan is to spend two nights at Quito Airport Suites, fly over to Manta the morning after we arrive, back to the hotel in the evening.
If the paperwork isn't ready, we'll just proceed to Cotacachi, and will have to make a return trip to Quito and  Manta later. We have to go into Quito for the cedulas 2 days after we get the visas, so if everything isn't ready when we arrive, we'll just combine the cedula and visa into one trip, probably spend a couple of nights at the beach.
Moving from the US to Ecuador is a complicated business, but I suppose it's no easier for Ecuadoreans to emigrate to the US.
Less than two weeks, and we're there!

We just got word yesterday that our Visas are ready! We leave sunday at 6 AM, layover in Atlanta, and arrive at UIO 10:13 PM.  6AM Monday we fly to Manta and get the visas, spend the day there. We booked a cheap room at Hostal Manakin so we have a place for a siesta. We're hoping to go to the cultural museum, have lunch and dinner by the beach, and head for the airport for the trip back in the evening. Any suggestions about what to do with a day in Manta would be appreciated. Tuesday morning we're off to the Yellow Guest House in Cotacachi. Once we get settled in in Cotacachi, we'll have to go back to Quito to get our cedulas. Finally we get our first face to face experience with Ecuadorean Democracy. Up to now it's been long distance.
This has been a long promost of our belongingscess, gathering papers, getting apostilles, getting it all approved, selling our business, our house. It's always seemed sort of abstract, but all the sudden, it's real. We'll be living in Cotacachi in less than a week.
I've always said if you aren't learning something, you may as well be dead. Well' we have plenty to learn now. What an adventure this will be!
John

You’re looking for input on what more to do on your Monday in Manta, you say.  Hmmmm.

Let’s see.  On Sunday you fly at 6 a.m. to Atlanta.  Your EC arrival flight that night will touch down at the Quito airport after 10 p.m.

Back on a plane at 6 a.m. the next morning, to Manta.

Your daytime plans in Manta already include lunch at the beach, a visit to a museum, a trip to a government office to pick up documents -- that could take two or three hours itself -- plus a siesta to catch up on sleep .. and then later, dinner at the beach.

And you want to do even more that day ?!

If you somehow can squeeze out fifteen minutes of free time from that schedule in possibly jet-lagged condition, how about a walk on the beach ?

As a Social Security recipient and retiree, you really don’t need to overdo it on your first day in Ecuador.

Have a safe trip. :)

cccmedia

Congratulations johnplov! Well done.  :one

Manta wasn't much of a tourist destination before the earthquake, and since then the only interesting area of town, the Tarqui, has been largely demolished.

Just go to the beach, eat, drink, and be merry. It's enough for one day.

Good job.

Thanks,
I kind of figured as much, just wanted to know if there was something not to be missed.
We could have skipped the museum if something better was available.
John

Hello,
I researched updates for 2016 on retirement visas for ex-pats. Here is what's new as of Jan. 2016: Pensioners Visa 9-1 (Visa de Rentista) - Applicants are no longer required to take their Social Security letter to the Ecuadorian Consulate to obtain a letter of certification. The $800 USD/per month minimum pension income has not changed.  One source to verify this update is:
http://www.garyascott.com/images/2016/0 … UPDATE.pdf

Regards,
PS

Hi,
I can't find the post I just entered but effective Jan. 1, 2016, there is no change in the minimum USD income ($800) or change in investment ($25,000).  What has changed is that Americans no longer need to take their Social Security letter to the Ecuadorian Consulate to obtain a letter of certification on the 9-1 Pensioner's Visa (Visa de Rentista).  I read various sources verifying this info, one of which is: http://www.garyascott.com/images/2016/0 … UPDATE.pdf

Cheers,
PS

Ah the joys of the VISA process...

Compared to other countries in the world though, ity´s not that bad:

ALL visa applications require both a State Police background check & an FBI Background check

Both of these background checks need to be apostilled (I´ll get back to that term in a moment)

and....

ALL visa applicants are required to have a Passport from the country of citizenship and that passport must be reasonable current.  By that, the definition is at least 6 more months on your passport remaining at the time you land in Ecuador.  So do check your passport and get a new one if neccessary.  US Passports are good for 10 years and the newer ones have 50 pages and an a chip (technology...what a country!)

Now, dependng on which of the 3 top visas you are getting, you will need the documents to support that visa:

Pensioner Visa?  YOur Social Security Letter from the SSA.  Take that to your local SS Office and have them sign it and notarize it.  You will need to get that signed letter apostilled (I promise I´ll get to that word)

Investment Visa? Proof of your CD for $25,000 or your Land Ownership (your Escritura) showing the land value, as registerd in your municipality for , yeah, $25,000.

Professional Visa?  Okay this one is alittle trickier but you are a college grad for this one so follow along....  Your Transcript showing you have been awarded your degree & your Diploma...and both have to be apostilled (Your registrar should be able to help you with this, it gets apostilled in the State where the college/university exists, and yes the Registrar´s signature has to be notarized first)  ALSO for the Professional Visa, you need to have your degree acknowledged by the Ministry of Education of Ecuador through their office called SENECYST.  Google that word and you will find the office and you can even easily look up to see if your university/college is on the list.  If so...easy peasy.  If not, takes a few months to get the okay, don´t get too worried, just work that into your time frame.

Okay APOSTILLE... I like to think of this is the SUPER POWERED INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED...good old notary stamp.  That´s what it really is, an affirmation as agreed by many countries to a treaty to recognize the legality of certain types of documents between their countries. 

...by the way Canadians/Canadiennes...sorry... you aren´t a member... not cause we don´t like you, just you didn´t sign this treaty during the cold war.  It´s okay, you just have to jump through an additional hoop, not too difficult, and go to the Ecuador Consulate to get your documents approved...  but I digress.

One major issue to make sure none of your documents are older than 6 months, or they pretty much become useless paper and all your effort has to be repeated.  Nothing horrible but you have to go through requesting those papers again.

SInce the request for things like the FBI report may involve expided services and handlers to get your paperwork completed in a timely manner, and every middleman wants a cut and a payment, you do want to limit that just for budgetting purposes.

Okay so you have your packet:

Passport, Police and FBI background checks, and supporting documents for your visa...

You are ready to apply...and the fee, if I recall correctly, is currently $3o to file the paperwork.  You will be asked to provide your own manila plain folder and also the day you file you should stop by the local Migratorio to get an updated printout of the document that shows your entries and exits from the country (an Impodimiento) and that´s $5


YOu pay the Visa fee when it is approved (about $350, depeding on the visa) and then with your  or there about.  You pay about $40 (?) to get your original cedula when you get your visa and ...

VOILA...oops wrong idioma... Claro!  You have your visa.

Important:  To remain in effect, you cannot be outside the country for more than 90 days during the first 24 months for the visa to stick.  If you will consider obtaining Ecuador dual citizenship, then make that 36 months...

And if you have any other questions about visas, visa facilitators (the good, the bad, the horrible...the complete unknowns... ) drop me a message :)

Susan

You said a visa holder cannot be outside Ecuador for more than 90 days during the first 24 months of visa validity (to maintain the visa privileges).

Did this just change ?  For years, it was 90 days of total absences during each of the first two 12-month periods.

cccmedia

NOpe, nothing has changed and it has always been...90 days in the first 2 years.

And when you think about it, it makes sense:

A Tourist, non resident visa, is available for 3 months and an extended Tourist or Business Visa is available for 6 months.  Each is available once in a 12 month cycle.  And in fact many folks ride that 9 months cycle each year (Canadians for example who snowbird but need to keep their national programs).

3 months plus 6 months is 9 monts, leaving...90 days.

Therefore if you breach that 90 days in the first 24 months you are demonstrating your intent to be a NON resident, and nullifying your Resident status...

90 days in the initial  24 month period... to confirm your residency status, counted from the date the Visa is Stamped (not delivery, not date of entry, not date of Cedula)

And by the way, I am available for private consultation with folks, if you would like to discuss your specific situation.  Just send me a message here and we can get in contact via SKYPE or IM or Google

Susan

Manta went off without a hitch! We flew out of Quito at 6 am, arrived in Manta 35 minutes later.  Serena from Ecuaassist met us, took us for breakfast, and then to the ministry. I think we were all done by 10:30. We had rented a room at Hostal Manakin, just to get some rest and get out of the sun. Good choice, midday is very hot.
We rested, had a nice late lunch, and went back to the airport for the flight to Quito.
Today we went into Quito  and got our cedulas. Success!
Now we are waiting while our condo is painted, and we can stop living out of suitcases. Ojala, by this weekend.
John

Marco Chiluisa runs a great shop through EcuaAssist!  His is one of only two visa proessionals I will recommend here in Ecuador for folks to use.  The other is Dana Cameron (Dana.Visas[at]gmail.com)

You were in good hands with Marco and his assistant Serena and great to hear it went well. 

I´ve gotten to know Marco more these past few months with the great work he has put in to help folks in the area north of Manta following the quake.  And also through the amazing work of his fiancee, Rachel Good a former Peace Corps Volunteer here on the copast who now works for FIMRC, an international health foundation for medical relief for children (completely independent and incredibly awesome!)

FIMRC has set up shop in my town of Anconcito for a long term health benefit program for our kids and families.  If you are interested in finding out more go to FIMRC.org and check out Anconcito!

Susan

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