So against my better judgement, I initiated the residency process with a passport that had a year left on it, making it necessary to go back to government offices for round 2 of fun! Here’s how I transferred my residency visa 9-V.
Renewing my passport
There were no US Consulates located in Cuenca, so I chose to do the process instead in Guayaquil. Getting to the Guayaquil US Consulate office was a pain. The office is located way in the south of Guayaquil, about an $8 taxi ride away from the airport, and 20 minutes. Then I had to make another trip to pick it up. In retrospect, I wish I had waited because I did not know that the US Consulate sometimes makes special trips to Cuenca to help US Citizens living here renew their passports.
- The US Consulate uses an appointment system like the DMV in the USA. You need to reserve your spot a couple weeks in advance (ugh) on their website.
- Make sure you get 2″x2″ passport photos. This is standard US Passport size (which is different than the Ecuadorian passport size most photo studios will print by default). I made this mistake and ended up with the wrong size photos.
- The US Consulate are very very strict about what is allowed inside. They wouldn’t allow me inside with my cell phone, USB keys, chapstick, and snacks for reasons I really don’t understand. There are lockers for rent, but it’s easiest just not to bring unnecessary items.
Applying for the Ecuador Visa Transfer for 9-V
The transfer process was pretty straightforward. The requirements were listed on the Ministerio of Foreign Relations website. I submitted the following:
- Letter requesting the transfer
- Their printable form with all my information
- An Ecuadorian-passport sized photo (different from the size of my US passport photo above)
- Migratory Movement which shows all my entrances and exits into and out of the country (which I obtained at the Ministry of Immigration by Banco del Austro across from Supermaxi in Cuenca) for $5.
- Notarized copies of my old passport and visa, new passport, and cedula.
- It also asks for a police report if the passport was stolen.
- I printed out the document which shows my professional degree is registered with Senescyt. Using the Consulta de Titulos page here.
- Certified copy of my diploma (tricky, see below)
Getting a certified copy of my diploma
This list asked for a certified copy of my diploma (for the 9-V Professional Visa). This was tricky because I had already gotten a copy of my diploma apostilled and translated, and turned into the Ministerio for my original residency application. Then I brought the degree home and conveniently left it at my mom’s place for safekeeping over Christmas! Ugh!
Luckily, after talking with the friendly folks at the Ministerio we were able to work out a substitute. (After I’ve spent so much time in the office I now feel like they are my frenemies).
I submitted a letter formally requesting them to make a copy of my diploma which was in their files. 3 days later they had the copy ready at the front desk for me to turn in with the rest of the papers. It was easy, but it required a separate trip to the Ministerio.
What is their new appointment system?
Now the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores works on an appointment system. Sounds great, right? Somewhat. You have to get there at about 8:00 am, wait in line with the other gringos and lawyers until they open at 8:30. They will then give out numbers, ask you what you are there for, and half an hour later tell you what time you can come back. Getting there at 8:00, I was able to get an appointment for 11:00.
Should I hire someone to transfer the visa for me?
You may be wondering…. is it worth it to hire someone else? Here is my time/cost breakdown of doing it independently. I was quoted a fee of $300 for a facilitator/lawyer to do the transfer for me, excluding the $60 transfer fee. I was, at this time, rather tired of waiting in government offices. Also, language is no longer an issue with doing it yourself. Gringos who do not speak Spanish will be pleased that the employees at the Ministerio of Foreign Relations speak excellent English.
All in all, I spent very little money other than the $60 transfer fee ($2 on color copies and internet cabin time, $2 to notarize copies, $5 for the Migratory movement, $4 for passport photos). The most important value consideration is how long it took:
- 1 hour to get the Migratory Movement
- 1 hour making copies, filling out paperwork and writing the letters
- 1 hour waiting to notarize the copies at the notary
- 3 hours to wait in line and submit the request to make a copy of my diploma
- 3 hours to wait in line and submit the request to transfer the visa
- 1 hour to pick up the visa
- Total: 10 hours.
So I would have been paying someone $300 to do what ended up being 10 hours of work for me, or about $30 per hour.
When all is said and done, $300 can buy a lot of almuerzos here! I’m glad I did it myself.None found.