How to get an Ecuador Residency Visa 9-V – Professional

professional visa Ecuador
Ecuador residency visa - how to get the 9-V professional visa

How to get your Ecuador residency visa 9-V visa

So you want your Ecuador residency visa, so you can move to Ecuador or stay for an extended period of time…. There are several options for your residency visa, see the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores website. Some of the more popular among expats is the pensioner’s visa and the investment visa, or obviously if you have family who are citizens. If you invest $25,000 in the form of a CD or real estate, you will qualify for the investment visa. However, if you plan to stay less than the rest of your life, and you want to take the money out of Ecuador, they will charge you 5% (i.e. $1,250)

I personally chose the professional Ecuador residency visa 9-V, which is more complicated to obtain, but without the 5% hit of the investment visa, and because I am not on a pension. The process to get a residency (just your visa/permit to stay in the Country) is separate from the process to get a cedula (akin to a Social Security number, it allows you to work in Ecuador, and is required sometimes for other items, such as getting a postpaid cell phone plan.)

Here’s how…. (Disclaimer, I’m not a lawyer, and this was not particularly easy for me, even though I would say my Spanish is now getting close to bilingual).

Verify that you qualify for the Professional Residency Visa:

  1. You must have a degree is from a University on the approved list at Senescyt (the office of higher education of Ecuador) on Senescyt’s website here.
    1. NOTE: If you just need this for residency, a bachelor’s degree is fine. I actually have a masters degree also but I left it at home because it would be 2x the paperwork. You don’t actually need a job offer or a work contract.


Documents you must bring from your home country:

  1. Get a notarized copy of your original University degree (the notary form is called Certificate of Document Custodian).
  2. If you will apply for a cedula, also get the following <Note as of July 2013, expats are saying the requirements have changed and these are no longer needed (unless your degree is in a maiden name not on your passport in which case they ARE needed):
    1. Your birth certificate from the county clerk’s office
    2. Your marriage certificate, divorce record, or in my case, go to the County Record office and ask for a Certificate of Single Status (i.e. they search the marriage record database, and print out a page certifying that they looked for marriage records in your name and couldn’t find any).
  3. Get a police report. I did the Livescan fingerprint version which searches your fingerprints digitally through government databases. Do this last because it expires in 90 days.
  4. Get all of the above apostilled. The reason you apostille a notarized copy of your degree and not the degree itself is that the State department will never apostille stamped signatures (i.e. my University of California degree has a stamped/mass-printed and not an ink signature of government officials).

Once in Ecuador, apply for the residency visa

  1. Get any other visa than the T-3 visa, if you don’t have it already. I got the 12-IX visa (extended 6-month tourism visa), although if you have a work visa or other non T-3 visa you are fine also. If you read the fine print at Senescyt, you can’t register your degree with a regular T-3 visa. This process for the 12-IX is reasonably straight forward. Requirements you need to bring to the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores are listed in English here. This will take approximately 1 month to process and they will make an appointment for you to come pick up your visa. Ask for the earliest appointment possible, because you’ll wait another month for Senescyt to register your degree and the clock is ticking on the 90-day validity of your criminal report. Costs $230 (plus the cost of the notarization, etc)
    1. NOTE: You can get a copy of a round trip ticket leaving Ecuador without actually buying the ticket by registering with Create an account, search for flights, and then select the option just to make the reservation and to pay in person at a LAN office. Print the confirmation page. When you don’t show up at the LAN office to pay in cash, the ticket will be cancelled, but the printout is sufficient for this process.
  2. Register your degree with Senescyt. Once you have the 12-IX visa (or any other visa than the T-3), go to the Senescyt office in Guayaquil or Quito. Get there early and be prepared to wait all day. You need to bring:
    1. Get a notarized copy of your apostilled, notarized copy of your degree. HUH? That’s right, you won’t be turning in the original apostille, so they want an Ecuador-notarized copy of the apostille page, the US-notarization page (Certificate of Document custodian), and the copy of your degree. If you degree is not in an approved language, get a notarized translation of everything. The approved languages are English, Spanish, French, Italian or Portuguese.
    2. Notarized copy of your passport
    3. The application form filled out (Click on “Solicitud escrita en formato de Senescyt” on Senescyt’s website)
    4. They will look over your paperwork, and enter the data into the system. You will need to wait ~20 days for the process to be completed and for your data to be finished registered in the system.
      1. NOTE: I recommend you eagle-eye watch them enter your data into the system because I ended up with a registered degree to the wrong university!
    5. Go back to Senescyt’s website to the “Consulta de Titulos” area after the 20 days are up. They won’t notify you by email or phone, you just need to keep checking if your degree is registered. You enter your passport number and either it will return no records (not yet registered), or it will show your name and degree in the system. Print out the page that has your name, and the registry number on it.
    6. If you have questions (i.e. what I had to do when I saw my name registered with the wrong unviersity), email
  3. Apply for your Ecuador residency visa. This costs $30 in application fee, and $320 for the visa. Bring the following documents:
    1. Written request in Spanish
    2. Visa Request form
    3. Get (another) certified copy of your passport, and the page that has your current visa on it (mine was the 12-IX for example).
    4. Migratory Movement (get from the immigration office)
    5. Get a certified translation of your apostilled, notarized copy of your degree. (This should now be 6 pages….. Apostille page, Notarized certificate of document custodian page, copy of degree, translation of apostille page, translation of notarization, translation of degree).
    6. Bring the printout showing your degree registered from Senescyt’s website.
    7. Translated, apostilled police report (should be 4 pages including the translation).
    8. Wait 2 months, keep following up with them….and TADAAA! Ecuador Residency without investment! They will email you when it’s ready, you have to go in and cancel your 12-IX (costs $60 and requires some more photocopies of your passport) and get the residency visa.

Cedula Process

Once you have gotten your Ecuador residency visa, you can now get the national ID card or “cedula.”
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53 Responses to "How to get an Ecuador Residency Visa 9-V – Professional"
  1. Felicitacilones, Lisa! Great job — pioneering residency without a pension or $25K. Also amazing that all you need is to have graduated college with BA. It’s a definite process, but no more onerous than any other residency and only $350. A comparative bargain!

    Also, thanks so much for posting the process and sharing it with GringoTree subscribers. We really appreciate both.

    Welcome to residency and again, congrats on a major success.


  2. RoamingLisa says:

    Haha, yeah I think Ecuador’s policy is open doors to the educated and the (somewhat comparatively) well-off. Bring your money or your degree and you’re in! Gringotree is awesome, it has helped me a lot getting accustomed to living here.

    • Anonymous says:


      Such excellent, helpful information…thanks so much.

      How long must one remain physically present in Ecuador from the time the residency process is begun until residency is approved? Typically, one must remain in Ecuador for at least 9 months/year for the first two years; is that still the case with the process described here or do you suppose residency could be APPROVED during a 6-month stay in Ecuador?

      Thank you again!


  3. Manya says:

    Thanks for the detailed step by step description, Lisa. One question – is the Professional Visa permanent? My understanding was that only the pensioner visa gave you a lifetime visa, unlike the investment/property visas? Manya

    • RoamingLisa says:

      My understanding is yes, it’s in the 9 series of visas which are all residency. But I’m not a lawyer, and we’ll wait and see if they kick me out of the country in a year or not :)

  4. Helen says:

    Thank you soooo much for sharing your experience and wisdom:-). Your post was extremely helpful. So, to confirm, you did not need to be employed here or have some form of work contract to get your Professional Residency Visa? Thanks again! And Congratulations! Helen

  5. Sarah Canez says:

    How would it work, do you think, if one person had this professional visa, and a spouse? Would the spouse ‘come along’ like in all the other visas? or would each person need a professional visa? My university is not on your ‘acceptable’ list, but my husband’s is on the list.

    • RoamingLisa says:

      I have only been through the visa process for myself, and being single without kids, I have no idea, sorry :( Sometimes I guess there is a raison d’etre for lawyers…

    • Jim Braman says:

      I will be finding out that answer soon! I have solicited help in Cuenca to grill the folks at SENESCYT about that and the six month visa (which was checked off as ‘done’ when I met with emigration in Cuence a few months ago.

    • Anonymous says:

      Any updates on the spouse getting residency along with the Professional visa applicant ?

    • Jim Braman says:

      Paola Sanchez researched this and told me that my spouse CAN be my dependent, but that she cannot work if she chooses this option.

      Concerning dependents, atty. Marco Munez here in Vilcabamba (actually Loja) says confidently states that Ecuadorian law defines “Familia” as up to four ‘ blood lines deep’. In other words, my wife and I could both be dependents of her Father, and if our kids were here, and the pension was large enough ($800 + $100 per additional dependent) they could also be dependents.

      If her Father dies, our visas are NOT void, however, if my wife were to become my dependent, and we are divorced, her visa IS voided!

    • Jim Braman says:

      The six-month visa is NOT required, only recommended; it can take a while to complete some types of resident visas.

    • Anonymous says:

      A couple of questions:
      Is there a ‘macho’ side to the professional residency..? If the wife has the university degree and gets the residency… can the husband receive residency along with her? I assume he can not work in Ecuador?

      How old can dependent ‘children’ be…. 35.. 40 years?
      Would they get residency under me if I had an investment or real estate residency?
      Thank you.

    • RoamingLisa says:

      Hmmm, Re: Jim’s comment. Have you or has anyone gotten a professional visa without the 12-IX 6-month visa first? The reason I think it’s required is that the form for requesting your university degree asks for passport number and has fine print that reads “Con estatus migratorio: inmigrante (9) y no migrante (12), EXCEPTO: Visa 12: X Turismo (Visitante temporal) y las visas de tránsito otorgadas en los aeropuertos o en las fronteras: T2 o T3, que NO SON VÁLIDAS para este trámite.” which translates to the 12-X, T2, and T3 are not valid for this process. Before beginning the process I also googled the professional visa and found someone else’s experience who was turned away from Senescyt because they only had a tourist visa.

      Regarding dependents or macho side, I don’t know.

  6. Regarding “Lifetime” visas. My 9-I expires ten years from data of issue. But we can get citizenship after three years and that does not expire.

  7. Anonymous says:

    nice work lisa i have 1 question in reading the application for the extended tourist visa it says the foreigner must demonstrate he/she has sufficient funds to stay in the country. what did you present to demonstrate sufficient funds?

    • RoamingLisa says:

      This one I do know! At their recommendation, I just printed out my bank statement in English and they accepted that. The minimum balance you need to show they said was $1000.

    • Jim Braman says:

      Depending on who you get, they may want the bank data to be REALLY recent. I went in with a lot of problems and a lot of begging …they got overwhelmed and just started trying to tear down every document I had. My bank statement was from Feb.1st. The day I was talking to her was Feb.15th She didn’t like it, but did not say it was the reason for rejection. I was one day late, and that is the unpardonable sin for them. No one else I have spoken with has ever said they had that issue with the bank dates.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Hi ! Great job with the visa!!

    I have 2 questions.

    1. If your degree is from a legitimate, accredited University not on the list, are you dead in the water?
    2. After the visa is granted, are you required to spend a minimum of 9 months in EC in the first 2 years?

    Thanks !

    Jo Ana

    • RoamingLisa says:

      1. Not dead in the water, but I think a lot harder. I have no direct experience, but if you look on the Senescyt’s website, you’ll find the list of “automatically recognized degrees”. There’s a separate process listed there (in Spanish) if you want to petition Senescyt to recognize your degree from a different university. I know exactly one person who did this and received her professional visa, but she said they rejected her several times and she had to appeal (and of course there’s no guaranteeing they’ll eventually relent). And this was with a degree (environmental science) that should (theoretically) be of great interest/ need to the Ecuadorean government!
      2. Yup, that’s what they told me, same with all the other residency visas. Hope that helps!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Does the 9-V visa have a requirement that you work or be “practicing” your designated profession in Ecuador ?

    • RoamingLisa says:

      The list on website does not have any documentary requirement for a work contract. However, I suppose they could decide to reject your application for whatever reason they want. When I originally turned in my written request I made it as short as possible to minimize the chance that I’d make a error in my Spanish, it said something like….Dear Ministry of the Exterior. I, from the USA, with passport # xxxxx, am applying for the 9-V professional Visa. I love Cuenca and would like to stay here for an undefined period of time. Thank you for your help. But they actually rejected this, and said my letter lacked “basis”, i.e. it needs to be longer, so I wrote a paragraph on how much I liked Cuenca, the weather, the arts and dance here, and that I wanted to apply my bioengineering degree to teach science here or something similar. My application stated that I was currently unemployed/looking.

  10. TexasJB says:

    Wow! I think it is great that you have the patience and fortitude to get this accomplished. More importantly, it will help me prepare mentally for this “whipping” if I decide to make Ecuador my country of choice. I will be making a recon trip next month to tour Ecuador to help me reach a final decision. Thanks for the information and good luck with all your life travels.

  11. Jim Braman says:

    Hi Lisa, thank you for starting this blog. It is SORELY needed! If you don’t mind, I would like to post some of my experience as well …as it relates to the professional process. Let me know if you would rather I started my own.

    So I am applying for a professional residency also. My degree is in Chiropractic, and there are no Chiropractic colleges (in the world!) on the approved list, however, there are about a dozen DCs (which is close to the total number I know about in the country) that have obtained there 9-5 visas without getting their colleges registered. This was done with a special exemption letter produced by SENESCYT (formerly called CONESUP). That was in 2008, so the rules may have changed now.

    • RoamingLisa says:

      Not at all, I think that would be super-helpful! Post away!

    • Jim Braman says:

      It seems (according to a young attorney, Paola Snachez, who went to SENESYT to ask questions for me) that if your degree (Chiropractic, for example) is not available in Ecuador, you can no longer obtain an exemption letter from the Higher Education Center, but must go through the process of registering your college and the degree.

      • Meggan says:

        So it is possible! My uni isn’t on the list — assuming these instructions are still valid in July 2014 😉 — can you outline the process to get my uni registered with SENESCYT? or how to contact them?

  12. Anonymous says:

    Hi Lisa – congrats – is there a requirement to have a transcript from your university?

  13. Anonymous says:

    Would the applicant have to be fluent in Spanish?
    What if she is a beginner student?

    • RoamingLisa says:

      I wouldn’t worry as much about the Cuenca immigration office since they speak pretty good English (unless you’re thinking of doing this in Quito or Guayaquil because I have no idea how much English they speak). Senescyt spoke limited English, so I spoke to them in Spanish, but at worst case scenario, you could bring a bilingual friend with you.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you.
      Any updates on the spouse getting residency along with the Professional visa applicant ?

      (same question asked above)

    • Jim Braman says:

      Yes, they can …see above.

  14. didan says:

    Hi! Thank you for your guide!
    Could you give a form of “Written request in Spanish” for Visa?

  15. RoamingLisa says:

    Hi Didan, there’s no “form.” I wrote basically….Hi, here I am, I love Ecuador and I want to live here because yadda yadda yadda, and I have such and such degree which I could use for such and such…..something along the lines of…


    Srs. Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores Cuenca,

    Yo, , de nacionalidad estadounidense, de pasaporte numero , solicito una visa de 9-V Profesional. Tengo titulo de . Me encanta el pais de Ecuador, y especialmente la vida tranquila de Cuenca, y me gustaria quedarme aqui para ensenar ciencias o hacer algo parecido. Muchas gracias por su ayuda.

    Saluda atentamente,

  16. Anonymous says:

    Hello Lisa

    Many Thanks for the information, may I ask you one question?
    You wrote:
    NOTE: If you just need this for residency, a bachelor’s degree is fine. I actually have a masters degree also but I left it at home because it would be 2x the paperwork. You don’t actually need a job offer or a work contract.

    Why did you not apply with your master degree?

    Could it be possible to apply directly with the master degree?
    I do not have a bachelor’s degree, in my country under certain admission regulations I could have a 4 years master degree without a bachelor’s first.

    Many Thanks

  17. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for this site. Has anyone had any success with finding their University on the SENESCYT website? I’ve tried a number of searches and always get “Not Found”.


  18. Anonymous says:

    what if the passport number contains letters? I found that I can`t click on the on buscar button when I enter the letters ed before numbers. If however I type numbers only the button works but of course there is no results….anyone had similar problem? I wrote several e-mails to senescyt but no one is responding….

    • Anonymous says:

      Hello, how did it go with your registration? Passports with letters and numbers?
      Thank you for letting us know your experience.

    • RoamingLisa says:

      You can search by last name as well, if the passport number isnt working for you. Senescyt entered My degree wrong into their database (ie wrong university!) the first time and they didn’t respond to my email either, I had to call them to get them to act on it.

  19. Anonymous says:

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  20. Bill Hampton says:

    I am a old man and i would like to stay the rest of my life I am 82 year old so can i stay there for a long time ?

  21. Anonymous says:

    Lisa great Job !
    i will apply for the same visa in October.(automatic recognition process also in my case)
    I have a simple question: Do you need a “FRESH” copy of your bachelor’s degree ? Mine is issued in 2000 or so …so i wonder if i need a recent duplicate from my university before applying the Hague apostille on it ?
    Does the bachelor’s degree ever expire for them like the marriage certificate does ?

  22. Patricia Pence, DVM says:

    I want to move to Ecuador in a year or so. Would I be able to practice as a veterinarian or just be able to teach if I wanted?
    Thanks for your reply. I called the embassy in DC but did not get any English speaking people.

  23. S.E. Athanas says:

    Thank you sooooo much for taking the time to share this information. I am in the process right now and your blog post is my #1 resource. Will let you know how it goes. :)

  24. Anonymous says:

    Can someone confirm that all documentation must be translated to Spanish? I was told this by other Ecuador sites.

    Also, when I went to search for my University it brought up 2 of the 3 campuses. I go to the 3rd campus that is not listed. Will that matter?

    Thanks In Advance,

    Laura Chambers

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