An Ecuador Permanent Resident Visa is something you need if you want to stay in Ecuador beyond your 2-year temporary resident visa expiration date. Here’s an overview of the requirements, fees and process if you’re ready to stay in Ecuador permanently.
If you would like to discuss your visa options with Maite, please submit our Visa Agent referral form and we’ll send an immediate email introduction.
If you’re looking for more information about moving to Ecuador, check out our Start Here series.
Ecuador Permanent Resident Visa Requirements
Here is the current list of requirements to apply for an Ecuador Permanent Resident Visa. The laws and regulations are constantly changing in Ecuador, which is why we strongly suggest working with a visa agent.
Even if you’re fluent in Spanish, which is a requirement to navigate this process by yourself, it’s impossible to stay on top of the frequent changes unless you do this full time and have government connections who can explain them to you.
You can read all the detailed permanent resident visa requirements on the government website here…
Ecuador Temporary Resident Visa
The first requirement to apply for an Ecuador Permanent Resident Visa is having a valid temporary resident visa for at least 21 months. If you’re still in the planning phase of your move to Ecuador, we suggest starting with our Ecuador Temporary Resident Visa article first.
You need a valid passport to apply for an Ecuador permanent resident visa. If your passport is expired or will expire before the application date, you’ll need to renew it before your application appointment. This process can take more than a month so plan accordingly.
Since Ecuador now uses electronic visas that are attached to your passport number, we recommend renewing your passport if it will expire within the next few years.
Each new passport comes with a new passport number, so you’ll have to pay a $100 fee plus visit the ministry to transfer the visa to the new passport number. You’ll save yourself some money and a lot of time if you renew your passport before starting the visa process.
You either need public or private health insurance to apply for a permanent resident visa in Ecuador.
The public plan is called IESS and it’s Ecuador’s version of social security and Medicare rolled into one. The IESS plan has its pros and cons, but that discussion is beyond the scope of this article.
Our private health insurance plan is through Confiamed. We purchased that plan through an insurance broker in Cuenca. If you need our insurance agent’s contact info, please submit our Insurance Broker referral form and we’ll send an immediate email introduction.
The cost of both public and private health insurance depends on the standard factors: single or couple, age of applicants, and smoker or non-smoker. Pre-existing conditions are covered after a 2-year waiting period with private insurance. The IESS plan now has a 3-month waiting period for pre-existing conditions.
We pay $158/month for a private health insurance plan that covers both of us. We’re 49 and 52 year old non-smokers.
Fingerprints & Background Checks
If you leave Ecuador for a single day during your temporary resident visa period, you must supply new US background checks from the FBI and state police with your permanent resident visa application. You don’t need to supply state background checks for every state you visited during the previous 2 years; you just need a background check from the state of your previous residence prior to moving to Ecuador.
If you didn’t register your marriage with the Ecuadorian government during your temporary resident visa process, you’ll need to request a new marriage license and have it apostilled again.
The apostille date needs to be less than 6 months from the date of the application so the apostilled marriage license from our temporary resident visa application had expired.
During our Ecuador Permanent Resident Visa process, we registered our marriage in Ecuador so it’s on file and we don’t have to go through this process again.
You can learn more about what an Apostille is and how to get a document appostilled on the US Embassy in Ecuador website…
Specific Requirements for Ecuador Permanent Resident Visas
There are several different types of residency visas in Ecuador, and the requirements vary depending on the type you have.
We’re here in Ecuador on a Professional Visa, which means we still work, have regular income from outside Ecuador (at least $400/month), and a degree from an approved university.
Amelia has a degree from The University of Phoenix, but that university degree is not accepted by Ecuador because the majority of classes are taken online. I went to the University of Kansas (Rock Chalk Jayhawk) for both my bachelors and masters degrees. When I graduated in the 90’s, online courses weren’t a thing yet, so I took all my classes in-person. This all means Amelia is here on a dependent visa that’s attached to my professional visa.
Since my degree was certified and apostilled for our temporary resident visa, we didn’t need to have that done again. It was already on record with the ministry and attached to my name.
If you purchased a bank CD or property to get your temporary resident visa, you’ll need to renew that CD or keep the property to qualify for the Ecuador permanent resident visa. However, once your visa application is approved and you receive your permanent visa, you no longer need the investment and can liquidate it as long as you don’t plan to apply for Ecuadorian citizenship.
I spoke to Maite at Gringo Visas while she was at the ministry office in Machala and she confirmed with the government visa representative that this change went into effect on October 20, 2020.
However, we’ve heard from other sources that if you got your visa before August 2017, this change does not apply to you. It only applies for permanent resident visas issued AFTER August 2017. You MUST check with the government before you liquidate your asset to see if this new rule applies to you.
Additionally, you can remain in Ecuador permanently with a permanent resident visa and you will never be required to show proof of your investment again. However, if your plan is to become an Ecuadorian citizen after your 5 year anniversary in Ecuador (2 years with a Temporary Visa and 3 years with a Permanent Visa), you need to keep the investment intact until your citizenship is approved.
When you apply for citizenship, you’ll need to show proof that you maintained the investment during your entire 5 year residency in Ecuador. Once your citizenship is approved, you can liquidate the investment.
Dual citizenship is allowed by both the US and Ecuador so you don’t need to give up your US citizenship if you choose to become an Ecuadorian citizen.
If you have a temporary resident pensioners visa, you’ll need to get a new copy of your pension letter stating your income. Due to the pandemic, this process can take up to 3 months so plan accordingly.
If you’re in Ecuador on a dependent visa, the primary visa holder must apply and receive his or her visa before you can submit your dependent visa application.
We submitted my Ecuador Permanent Resident Visa application in early January 2020 and received it about 2 weeks later. At that point, Amelia’s Ecuador Dependent Visa application was submitted and she received hers in less than 2 weeks.
Due to the pandemic, the government reduced staff and closed offices so the process is taking much longer now.
The other types of Ecuador visas are work visa, volunteer visa, student visa, rentista visa and industrial investor visa. These visa types are only valid for temporary resident visas; they aren’t valid visa types for permanent resident visas so we won’t discuss them here.
Ecuador Permanent Resident Visa Ministry Fees
The Ecuador Permanent Resident Visa has two primary fees. The permanent resident visa application fee is $50 per application and is non-refundable. If your visa application is approved, the permanent resident visa fee is $500 per person.
Ecuador Permanent Resident Visa Process
It’s VERY important to get an early start on your Ecuador Permanent Resident Visa application process. If you miss the window to file, which is between 21 and 24 months from the issue date of your temporary resident visa, you may need to reapply for another temporary resident visa. That would restart the clock and you would need to wait another 21 months to reapply for a permanent resident visa.
It can take 2 to 3 months to get the background checks done in the US, apostilled and mailed to Ecuador, which is why Maité at GringoVisas suggests starting this process 5 to 6 months before your visa expires. Your temporary resident visa is good for 2 years exactly, so that means you need to start the process around month 18 of your temporary resident visa.
Step 1: Renew Your Passport
As stated above, you’ll save yourself some money and a lot of time if you renew your passport before you start the visa application process. If your plan is to apply for Ecuadorian citizenship, we recommend renewing your passport if it will expire any time during the 3 years following the issue date of your permanent visa.
Step 2: Fingerprints
The next step in the process of getting your Ecuador Permanent Resident Visa is having your fingerprints taken.
We had our fingerprints taken in Cuenca on our exploratory trip in 2017 for our temporary resident visa application, but the ministry doesn’t keep them on file unless you commit a crime. Therefore, we had to get our fingerprints taken again at the police station in Cuenca so they could be used to request new background checks.
Step 3: Background Check
Once we had our fingerprint forms, Maité’s team requested the background checks from the FBI and state police back in the US. Again, you only need a background check from the state of your previous residence; not all states you visited during your temporary resident visa period.
Step 4: Visa Specific Requirements
If you have a professional temporary visa, then your university degree documents are already on file with the government so you don’t need to do any additional work.
However, if your temporary resident visa is something other than a professional visa, you need to request a notarized diploma, transcript and the official university letter stating your documents are real and you attended more than 80% of the classes in-person. Then all the documents must be apostilled.
If you are in Ecuador on a temporary resident dependent visa and you didn’t register your marriage with the Ecuadorian government, you’ll need to get your marriage license re-apostilled to submit with your permanent resident dependent visa application.
For the investor visa, you’ll need to renew your bank CD if it was only for the duration of your temporary resident visa (2 years). You need to have a valid investment to apply for an Ecuador Permanent Resident Visa.
You need to request a new letter stating your monthly income. This can take up to 3 months so get started early.
Step 5: Request an Appointment with the Ministry
You can go to any of the ministry offices in Ecuador to submit your application, but some have longer waits than others.
We went to Machala to submit both our temporary and permanent visa applications because the wait for an appointment was only 2 weeks. Machala is about 3 to 4 hours from Cuenca, so a lot of people go to Azogues, which is about 30 minutes from Cuenca. However, the Azogues office has much longer wait times than Machala.
Step 6: Fill Out and Notarize the Visa Application Form
The visa application form is in Spanish and must be filled out in Spanish. Once it’s filled out, you’ll need to go to a notary in Ecuador to have it notarized. You need to sign the application in front of the notary after showing him or her your passport or cedula as identification.
Step 7: Submit Your Application
Once you have your completed visa application form and all the other required documentation, you need to go to the ministry office on the date of your appointment to submit your application. You need your passport and potentially your cedula (your government ID card, similar to a driver’s license). We recommend taking them both just to be safe.
Step 8: Wait
It took less than a month for me to get my Ecuador permanent resident visa and Amelia’s dependent visa, but that was before the pandemic started. You can expect the process to take at least 3 months due to staff shortages and office closures.
The visa rules and regulations seem to be constantly changing in Ecuador, which can cause additional delays. We were in Ecuador for several months beyond our 3-month tourist visa before our temporary resident visas were approved. Since the application was in-process, we technically weren’t illegal aliens, but it sure felt like we were! Thankfully we didn’t need to leave the country during that small window or it might have been difficult to get back in.
Step 9: Get Your Visa from the Ministry
Once your visa is approved, the government assigns the visa electronically to your passport number. Ecuador no longer attaches a physical visa sticker to your passport.
Step 10: Get a New Cédula
Once you receive your Ecuador permanent resident visa, you’ll need to get a new cédula stating you’re now a permanent resident of Ecuador. This costs $5 and takes about an hour. You can visit any Registro Civil office; you don’t need an appointment.
Our current plan is to apply for citizenship once we’ve been here for 5 years. That’s the amount of time you need to live in the country before applying for citizenship: 2 years on a temporary resident visa and at least 3 years on a permanent resident visa.
Since the permanent resident visa never expires, we can technically live here for the rest of our lives without ever applying for citizenship, but we like the idea of having 2 passports: one from the US and one from Ecuador.
Another reason to get citizenship is the flexibility to leave Ecuador for longer periods of time. On a professional permanent resident visa, we can only be outside Ecuador for 180 non-consecutive days per year. With citizenship, there are no travel restrictions. We can leave for several years and come back whenever we want. Investor visa holders do not have the same travel restrictions as other visa types so this won’t apply if you have an investment visa.
Hopefully you enjoyed our interview with Maité from Gringo Visas, and this lengthy blog post about the Ecuador Permanent Resident Visa requirements, fees and process. If you see others asking about this complex process on social media, please share it with them. And if you spot any inaccuracies or outdated rules, please let us know so we can keep this article up-to-date.
If you would like to discuss your visa options with Maite, please submit our Visa Agent referral form and we’ll send an immediate email introduction.
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