UPDATED NOVEMBER 28, 2022
There are several different types of Ecuador Temporary Resident Visas: Professional, Investor, Pensioners, Rentista/Digital Nomad, Dependent, etc. The qualifications and requirements vary for each type of visa so you’ll need to select the best option for your specific circumstances.
You can apply for an Ecuador permanent residency visa after 21 months of your temporary residency providing you haven’t left the country for more than 90 days during that period. The permanent visa requirements are identical to the temporary visa requirements. The only difference is that the temporary visa is valid for 2 years while the permanent visa never expires.
If you would like to discuss your visa options with Maite and her team at GringoVisas, please submit our Visa Agent referral form and we’ll send an immediate email introduction.
Several substantial changes were made to the Ecuador visa laws in March 2022. The new visa laws ONLY apply to NEW temporary visa applicants. If you are currently living in Ecuador with a temporary residency visa that was issued prior to March 2022, you can apply for a permanent residency visa at your 21-month mark under the old visa laws and income requirements as long as you haven’t been outside Ecuador for more than 90 days during your temporary visa period. If you have questions or special circumstances, please check with a qualified visa agent.
General Requirements for Ecuador Temporary Resident Visas
There are a few general requirements for all Ecuador Temporary Resident Visas. You can read the detailed list on the government website here; however, here are the main things you’ll want to consider:
If your passport will expire during the 2-year visa period, we recommend renewing your passport before applying for the visa.
Ecuador no longer attaches physical visas to your passport. Instead, they issue electronic visas that are attached to your passport number.
When you renew your passport, you’ll get a different number which means your visa will need to be electronically transferred to the new passport. This requires a $100 fee and an additional trip the visa office to sign paperwork.
There’s no harm in renewing your passport early and doing so will save you a lot of inconvenience.
Health insurance is required for the pensioner visa and to get a cédula for all types of visas (not the 90 day tourist visa). You will need health insurance from a private Ecuadorian health insurance company. We’re happy to introduce you to our recommended Ecuadorian health insurance brokers here…
If you have foreign health insurance that will cover you in Ecuador, the contract needs to state specifically that you will be covered in Ecuador. You may need to request a special contract from your insurance company that specifically states “Ecuador” in the coverage area.
Each type of visa has different income requirements detailed below.
For the pensioner visa, you must prove monthly income based on statements from Social Security, a pension or other retirement accounts.
For all other visa types, you must prove income based on bank statements from the previous 3 to 12 months, depending on the type of visa and the ministry official.
Self-deposits are allowed because they don’t verify the source of funds. That means you can deposit money into your own account from another account, or someone else like your spouse can deposit money into your account to meet the minimum income requirements.
It’s best to use an account that is only in the primary visa holder’s name rather than a joint account. If you have a joint account that you’re planning to use for the visa application, the Ecuadorian ministry will only consider 50% of the deposits as income for the primary visa applicant. Therefore, you would need to deposit twice the minimum income to meet the visa requirements.
You cannot combine income sources from your spouse or any other source. All the income must be in the primary visa holders income statements and/or bank statements.
Fingerprints & Background Checks
You’ll need to provide a State Police Report for your home state and a Federal FBI background check with your application.
Ideally, your background checks will be squeaky clean, but if you have a minor offense with a reasonable explanation, or if it happened a long time ago, it may not affect your application process. The ministry official has the final say, but a visa agent can help you navigate the process and advocate for your approval.
These reports must be less than 6 months old when you file your visa application. If they are more than 6 months old, you will need to request them again and pay for the new reports, so plan carefully.
Marriage License & Birth Certificates
For dependent visas, you’ll need a marriage license for a spouse or birth certificates for children. The documents need to be less than 6 months old when you send them for apostille; therefore, you will likely need to order new certified copies.
You can register your marriage license in Ecuador at a Registro Civil office so it will always be on file and you won’t need to go through this process again when you apply for permanent residency. Ask your visa agent for help with this.
Apostilles, Translations and Notarizations
ALL documents must have an apostille if you’re moving from a country that is part of the Hague Convention. If you’re from Canada, ALL documents must be legalized at the Ecuadorian consulate or embassy.
Additionally, ALL documents must be less than 6 months old to qualify for an apostille and to be accepted by the Ecuadorian Immigration Ministry when you submit your visa application. That means you need to plan the timing of your documentation very carefully.
Once all documents have an apostille, they need to be sent to Ecuador to be translated by a certified Ecuadorian translator and then notarized by an Ecuadorian notary.
A visa agent can help you navigate this complicated and time-sensitive process.
Ecuador Temporary Resident Visa Ministry Fees
Ecuador Temporary Resident Visas have two primary fees. The temporary resident visa application fee is $50 per person and is non-refundable. If your visa application is approved, the temporary resident visa fee is $400 per person.
Permanent Residency Consideration
The temporary visas no longer have travel restrictions, which means you can be outside Ecuador as much as you want during your 2-year Ecuador temporary residency.
HOWEVER, if you plan to apply for permanent residency after 21 months, YOU CANNOT BE OUTSIDE ECUADOR FOR MORE THAN 90 DAYS DURING THE 21-MONTH PERIOD!
In other words, you can be outside Ecuador for a total of 90 non-consecutive days during the 21 months leading up to the application date of your permanent residency visa. If you are outside Ecuador for more than 90 days during that period, you will need to apply for another temporary residency visa rather than a permanent visa.
Ecuador Temporary Resident Visa Types
All temporary residency visas in Ecuador are good for 2 years from the date of issue. You are allowed to apply for permanent residency after living in Ecuador for 21 months as long as you haven’t been outside Ecuador for more than 90 days during that period.
You can review all of the visas types and their specific requirements on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility website. The Ecuadorian government websites are all in Spanish, so here is a helpful article showing you How To Translate Websites to English from Spanish (or any other language).
The Ecuador Professional Visa has the following requirements:
- Monthly income of at least USD $425 (there is no additional income requirements for dependents)
- An undergraduate or graduate degree from a university approved by Senescyt, which is the entity in charge of recognizing foreign higher-level degrees
- A notarized diploma with an apostille
- A notarized transcript with an apostille
- A notarized letter with an apostille signed by a university official stating the diploma and transcript are valid, and that at least 80% of the classes were taken in-person (not online)
My temporary (and now permanent) visa is a Professional Visa, which means I still work, have regular income from outside Ecuador, and a degree from an approved university. Senescyt no longer publishes an “approved university” list. Most universities are now accepted, but they still go through the same approval process that they always have.
Amelia has a degree from The University of Phoenix, but that university is not accepted by Ecuador because the majority of classes are taken online. To qualify as an approved university, more than 80% of classes must be taken in a classroom setting and not 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 means Amelia is here on a dependent visa that’s attached to my professional visa.
We had to get an official diploma and transcript from KU for my most advanced degree (Masters). We also had to get a notarized letter from a university official stating my degree was valid and that the classes were taken in-person. Then we sent all the documents to the GringoVisas office in Connecticut so they could get the apostille before mailing them to Ecuador.
For the Ecuador Investor Visa, you must show $425/month in income and you must invest $42,500 in either a CD or property. There is no additional investment requirement nor additional income requirements for dependents.
Certificate of Deposit (CD): You can invest $42,500 in an Ecuadorian COOP CD for at least 2 years, the duration of your Ecuador Temporary Resident Visa.
The interest rates on the CD’s will shock you if you’re coming from the US where banks no longer pay meaningful interest. As of this writing, the interest rate on a 2 year CD in Ecuador is roughly 8.0% annually! That’s around $283/month in interest on your $42,500 CD!!!
You can leave the interest in the account so it compounds, but you are allowed by law to withdraw the interest income from your CD without invalidating your visa. However, you need to be careful when signing the paperwork with a COOP like JEP because they will default the application to prevent withdrawal of the earned interest until the CD end date. Be specific with them and tell them that you want to withdraw the interest every month, 3 months, or each year, whichever you prefer.
Bank deposits are only insured up to $32,000 so that means at least $10,500 of your investment will not be insured. You are not allowed to split the investment into different accounts or different banks to make up the difference, either. The entire investment must be in one CD.
Property: You can purchase property to qualify for an Investor Visa in Ecuador. The only requirement is that the property be assessed by the municipality for more than $42,500.
The ministry will issue a visa lien against your property and if you wish to sell it you will have to forfeit your visa and request a lien release. (You can apply for a different type of visa or convert to a permanent visa before selling the property.)
The assessment value may be substantially lower than the purchase price. You can request a new assessment if the registered value is less than $42,500.
You are not allowed to transfer the investment without reapplying for the visa. So, for instance, you cannot use your CD to buy property. The investment must remain the same for the entire duration of the Temporary Resident Visa and cannot be changed or transferred.
In order to get a Pensioners Visa, you need to show income for the remainder of your life of at least $1,275/month + $250/month/dependent.
Your income can be from Social Security, a pension, retirement accounts, annuities, etc. If you’re using Social Security for your income requirement, you’ll need an annual statement from the Social Security Administration (SSA) that’s signed by an SSA official and has an apostille at the federal (not state) level.
Rentista (or Digital Nomad) Visa
The Rentista Visa has been updated to function more as a Digital Nomad Visa as of March 2022. There are now two ways to qualify for this visa.
Digital Nomad Visa: If you are a digital nomad or work remotely for a company abroad or as a freelancer, you need to show an income of $1,275/month + $250/month/dependent, or a yearly income of $15,300 + $3,000/year/dependent (based on bank statements) for the previous 3 to 12 months.
Additionally, you need to prove you work for a real corporation or LLC by providing the legal business documents. If you are a freelancer, you need to have your own legal LLC.
You may also need proof of your work contract or employment that states you will continue to earn an income after you move to Ecuador for at least 2 years.
Rentista Visa: If you own a rental property outright in your home country, you may be able to use that as the support for your visa.
You are required to have a tenant with a 2-year lease agreement for at least $1,275/month in rent + $250/month/dependent. You will need to provide the deed of ownership for the property and the 2-year rental agreement.
For the work visa you must be sponsored by an Ecuadorian company. The company has to pay into the IESS and you need a 2-year work contract. This visa can now be converted into a permanent resident visa provided you don’t leave the country for more than 90 days during the first 21 months.
A Dependent Visa must be attached to a valid Temporary Resident Visa and can be used for your spouse, children, parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, or any blood relative. The primary Temporary Visa must be issued before the Dependent Visa application can be filed.
With the Pensioner visa the primary visa holder must show an additional income of $250/month/dependent and the additional income can come from any source. For the Rentista/Digital Nomad visa, you have the option of showing at least $3,000/year/dependent in lieu of the $250/month/dependent.
There are no other special requirements for the dependent visa. The dependent visa holder has all the same benefits and requirements as the primary visa holder.
Amelia is here on a dependent visa attached to my professional visa. Since our visas were issued prior to the visa law updates back in February 2021 (not 2022), we are stuck under the old rules. That means as long as we stay married, she can maintain her dependent visa, but if I die or we get divorced, she will need to get her own visa and start the entire process over from the beginning. That’s the major downside to the Dependent Visa in Ecuador prior to February 2021.
However, for visas issued AFTER February 2021, dependent visa holders no longer lose their visa if the primary visa holder dies. If you get divorced, you may or may not lose your visa, depending on the circumstances.
If you leave your spouse, you will likely lose your visa. If your spouse leaves you, he/she must file for divorce in Ecuador and you must contest it. If you sign the divorce agreement, you have voluntarily agreed to the divorce and will lose your visa. If the primary visa holder leaves you for a justifiable and provable reason (e.g. abuse, infidelity, etc.), you may still lose your visa even if you contest the divorce. The laws are complicated so speak to a qualified attorney before signing anything!
Other Temporary Residency Visas
The other types of Ecuador temporary resident visas are the volunteer visa, student visa and industrial investor visa.
These are only temporary visa options and cannot be converted to permanent resident visas at the end of the 2-year term. If your goal is to become a permanent resident of Ecuador, it’s best to get one of the other visa types.
These types of visas aren’t popular with expats because they don’t lead to permanent residency, so we’re not going to cover them in this article.
90-Day Tourist Visa
The 90-day Ecuador tourist visa is easy to get. Just come to Ecuador and it gets issued at passport control. It’s only valid for 3 months, but you can apply for a 3 month extension once every 12 months.
The extension application has a fee that has increased from $100 when we moved here to $142. You’ll need to apply at the end of your 90-day tourist visa.
Ecuador Temporary Resident Visa Process
There are lots of steps involved with getting your Ecuador Temporary Resident Visa, and it usually takes 3 to 6 months.
It can take 2 to 3 months just to get the background checks done in the US, sent for the apostille and mailed to Ecuador for translation and notarization so keep that in mind when you’re planning your travel.
Step 1: Fingerprints
The first step in the process of getting your Ecuador Temporary Resident Visa is getting your fingerprints taken. We had ours taken in Cuenca Ecuador on our exploratory trip in 2017, but you can also have them taken back in the US at a local police station.
Step 2: Background Check
Once we had our fingerprint forms, our visa agent requested the background checks from the FBI Identity History Summary Checks website.
Step 3: Visa Specific Requirements
You need to request a notarized diploma, transcript and the official university letter stating your documents are real and classes were taken in-person (not online).
If you’re applying for a dependent visa, you’ll need to get a certified copy of your marriage license, and birth certificates for your children and other relatives. Again, all these documents must be less than 6 months old to get an apostille so you may need to order new certified copies.
For the investor visa, you’ll need to invest in a CD at an Ecuadorian COOP for at least 2 years, or purchase property that you intend to keep for the duration of the temporary resident visa. You can wire funds directly to an Ecuadorian bank from a US bank.
You will need to open the CD in a COOP such as JEP because banks like Banco Guayaquil require an Ecuador government ID (cédula) to open an account. You can open an account at a COOP with just your passport and your investor visa application.
You need to request a letter from the SSA stating your monthly income and you’ll need to provide monthly income statements.
Step 4: 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. Your visa agent will know which office is best at the time.
Step 5: 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 to have it notarized. You need to sign the application in front of the notary after showing him or her your identification.
Step 6: Submit Your Application
Once you have your completed visa application form and all the other required documentation with apostilles as needed, go to the ministry office on the date of your appointment to submit your application. You’ll need your passport as identification.
This process is different if your visa will be issued in your home country. Your visa agent will help with that process.
Step 7: Wait
We submitted my Ecuador temporary resident visa application at the end of October when we first arrived in Ecuador, but didn’t receive it until the end of January. It took 3 months to get approved and printed.
Due to the constantly changing laws and delays when we applied for our temporary resident visas, we were here in Ecuador for several months beyond our 3-month tourist visa without our temporary resident visa. 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 8: Get Your Visa from the Ministry
Once your visa is approved, the government issues an electronic visa that is digitally attached to your passport number. They no longer attach a physical visa sticker to your passport. Again, if your passport is about to expire, we recommend renewing it first before applying for your Ecuador temporary resident visas.
Step 9: Get a Cédula
After we received our temporary resident visas, we took them to the government office in Cuenca to get our cédula, which is our official government issued identification card. It looks like a driver’s license, only it doesn’t allow us to drive.
It took about an hour to get the cédula and the cost was $5. You are not required to get a cédula; however, your expat life in Ecuador will be much easier and you’ll have more banking options available to you if you have one. You will need a cédula to apply for the public IESS health insurance.
Hopefully, you found this lengthy article about the Ecuador Temporary Resident Visas helpful. 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 up-to-date.
HUGE thanks to Maité from Gringo Visas for not only helping us with both our Temporary and Permanent Resident Visas, but for taking the time to answer a bunch of questions for this article about the new visa requirements in Ecuador.
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