3 Most Common Types of Residency Visas in Ecuador

Written By: Attorney Sara Chaca, of Cuenca, Ecuador

To borrow a page from the great American poet, Robert Frost, and his possibly most famous poem known as “The Road Not Taken”, when moving to Ecuador, virtually all Expats are plagued with the very necessary decision of, WHICH TYPE RESIDENCY VISA PATH SHALL I CHOOSE???

Well luckily, that choice, while certainly not one to be made on a whim, can in fact happily be made over say, a bottle of wine..

In this article, I, Attorney Sara Chaca of Cuenca, will very simply discuss the “3 Most Common Types of Residency Visas in Ecuador”, covering each of the 3 type Residency Visas, point by point, in an easily understandable and simple manner, so as to be both practical and actionable for anyone wanting to move to Ecuador. 

The more technical aspects of the various things such as Apostilles, Legalizations, Police Reports, Ecuadorian Embassy Certifications, Notarization of Documents, Plane Ticket Booking Requirements, Dog & Cat Importation, Cash & Gold Transport, etc., were covered in another recent article written by me on Gringo Tree’s website, named “10 Things to Know Before Moving to Ecuador”, and so that separate article is currently available for your enthusiastic reading (dare I might say reading pleasure!) on Gringo Tree’s new Tribelr website via a basic ‘Search for Posts’ in the upper right hand corner of www.Tribelr.com, or can simply be additionally forwarded by me via email to you if you specifically write or call me to request it be sent your way.

Pensioner Visa 9-I:

This type Visa, as you might already have guessed or be abreast of, is by far the most common type Residency Visa that Expats apply for when moving to Ecuador, as it is simply hinged on the fact that the Expat has a Guaranteed Pension from either Social Security, a past Public Employer or a past Private Employer (even “Life Only” Annuity Contracts issued by typically Private Insurance Companies also work for the Pensioners Visa).  For this type Visa, one just needs an original “Pension Benefits Letter” from the issuing institution, stating that the Beneficiary (i.e. the guaranteed monthly income recipient) is receiving a minimum of $800 per month that is generally promised for life to the Beneficiary (plus $100 additional per month for life is necessary in the case of any Dependents of the Beneficiary who are also moving to Ecuador, such as the Beneficiary’s Spouse, Children, Siblings or Grandchildren).

The above mentioned “Pension Benefits Letter” cannot usually be one that is printed off of the Internet or issued by snail mail once per year or per quarter.  Instead, it must generally be one in which the Beneficiary either visits in person or calls to the local Pension office (i.e. an in person visit to the local Social Security Administration or a phone call to one’s former Public Employer or Private Employer, etc.), and this Pension Benefits Letter is generally required to be signed by an authorized representative of the Pension office, with the name of said representative also printed legibly on the Pension Benefits Letter, plus also a “Stamp” from that such office provided towards the bottom of the Pension Benefits Letter, so as to add some, shall I say, “pomp and circumstance” to the authenticity of the Pension Benefits Letter (please note that this additional requirement of a “Stamp” is simply to further certify the sanctity of the Pension Benefits Letter for the Immigration Ministry and has nothing whatsoever to do with a personal preference of mine or that of any other person).

Investor Visa 9-II:

This type Visa is the second most popular, and is one in which someone who does not have a Pension sufficient for a Pensioner Visa simply INVESTS money in any Ecuadorian Bank Account as their qualification for moving to Ecuador, OR Invests in any Real Estate Property in Ecuador.  For this type Visa, one just needs to invest a minimum of $25,000 in an Ecuadorian Bank Account (plus $500 additional is necessary in the case of any Dependents of the Beneficiary who are also moving to Ecuador, such as the Beneficiary’s Spouse, Children, Siblings or Grandchildren) --- OR ALTERNATIVELY one just needs to invest in an Ecuadorian Real Estate Property with a minimum “Tax Assessed Value” of $25,000 (plus $500 additional in “Tax Assessed Value” of the Real Estate Property is necessary in the case of any Dependents of the Beneficiary who are also moving to Ecuador, such as the Beneficiary’s Spouse, Children, Siblings or Grandchildren).

If one elects to go the Bank Investment route, then their typical $25,000 (or so) investment amount in an Ecuadorian Bank Certificate of Deposit (Ecuadorian Bank CD) is at all times 100% insured by the Ecuadorian Government in the event of bank default (similar to the FDIC Deposit Insurance Guarantee in the US), the Investor typically earns 5-10% interest per year on their invested money (naturally this fluctuates yearly and also from bank to bank), and if the Investor ever decides to leave Ecuador or become a Citizen of Ecuador then the Investor can and will take back 100% of their own personally Invested Funds (as it is ALWAYS your own money, regardless of how or where it is invested).

If one instead chooses the option of a Real Estate Property purchase, then as stated above in the ALTERNATIVE to making an Investment in an Ecuadorian Bank CD, as long as the “Tax Assessed Value” is equal or greater to $25,000 (this depends on things like the purchase price of the property, the Municipality evaluation techniques where the property is located, and improvements or dis-improvements to the property as the case might be), then this will generally also qualify one for the Investor Visa in moving to Ecuador.

Professional Visa 9-V:

This type Visa is most usually preferred by those who either or both do not have a Pension sufficient for a Pensioner Visa or do not have funds sufficient to invest in an Investor Visa, but who do in fact have a Foreign University or College issued Bachelors Degree or other type third or fourth level University or College Degree (i.e. Masters, PhD, Medical Doctor, Juris Doctor, etc.), which in such case “can and will” serve as their SINGLE AND ONLY qualification for becoming a Resident of Ecuador.

For the Professional Visa, because there are generally not any financial requirements necessary to apply for it, SENESCYT of Ecuador which is the authorized Degree Approving Institution of Ecuador, needs to review one’s Foreign Degree and/or Transcripts (depending if one’s University is on the “Automatically Approved List of SENESCYT”) and the person’s mode of study to have originally received their Degree (i.e. Full time in person study, Part Time study via internet classes, Part Time study via written correspondence courses, etc.).

When hearing of the Professional Visa, many people ask the following question..Why would the Ecuadorian government permit the Professional Visa if the majority of persons moving to Ecuador are of retirement age and not likely to work or teach in Ecuador in the future? The simple answer is, no one quite knows for sure.  But the more seemingly as well as likely answer is that the Ecuadorian government simply holds Foreign Degrees in high regard and hopes (but does not at all presently require) that the Foreign Degree holder in coming to Ecuador will “directly or indirectly” become a positive influence on Ecuadorian society and at minimum serve as an informal educator of the future professionals of Ecuador so that they might achieve better and higher than their predecessors had in their same own fields of thought and expertise in this still developing country.

While there are surely at least several other type Residency Visas that are open to those having the desire or intention of moving to Ecuador (such as the Amparo Visa for foreigners who legitimately meet, fall in love with and as a result marry an Ecuadorian Citizen), probably well more than 90% of all persons who move to or aspire to move to Ecuador do in fact by necessity, personal preference or situational determination, elect one of these three above mentioned Residency Visa qualification types, for which these much discussed Visa classes comprise the vast majority selection of my primary Expat clientele in their collective pursuits of becoming part of our community as fellow Ecuadorian Residents.

Sara Chaca, Attorney-Abogada of “Ecuador Visas”, is a seasoned Immigration Lawyer in the procurement and advancement of Foreigners’ Visa Processes in Ecuador, and can be reached for a complimentary in-office consult or email discussion or telephone conversation with any and all Expats from any foreign country at any time, at her email address of sara@ecuadorvisas.com or on her US TOLL-FREE 800 Number of 1-800-655-1581 or on her Cuenca personal cell phone line of 099.296.2065.


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