Okay, you’ve decided that you wish to live in another country. You have researched the country, perhaps even visited several areas once or twice and have listed the pros and cons to living there. Now that you’ve completed all that, now what?
Now you start whatever process is required for the country you are considering to be your new home. One of the first things you need to do is make sure you have ample time left on your passport. If you have, say only a month left, then you need to get your passport renewed before you start the process. If will not be in your best interest to have your passport expire either in the middle of obtaining your residency visa or shortly after it has been approved. That may expiration may void your visa and have you deported and start the process all over again.
You need to decide on what kind of visa you wish to have. In the case of Ecuador, it can be a residency visa, professional visa or pensioner’s visa or visa via mail. The type of visa decides what you need to do. For example, if you obtain a residency visa, which you obtain once you’ve landed in the country, you must have a return plane ticket in case all does not go smoothly; while with a visa via mail, you have your visa in hand before you leave your home country and will not have to have a return plane ticket.
Although you can usually obtain a visa on your own, I would suggest that you go through a service, such as Ecuadorian Visas, to do the process as
1) they know the rules and regulations and documents needed to obtain a visa,such as how long it generally takes to obtain your visa, how long you have to wait once approved to go to a consulate for that country to provided information and/or pick up your visa.
(2) they know what government agencies you need to get documents from, such as FBI report, fingerprint and background checks, state records for birth certificates, marriage records, divorce records or even social security or pension funds.
(3) how to obtain required documents from your home country and state, such as the Secretary of State.
(4) how the documents are to be presented, certain documents must be certified and signed and then apostatized – authenticating the certification by your state/governmental entity and they have to be done within a certain time period or the documents certification can expire.
(5) where and when to send the documents, either to the country’s consulate or to the company handling the processing, and
(6) things that may get your visa disqualified or having to start over, such as removing staples from a document that has been apostatized to make a copy.
There are fees involved, so you want to make sure you have a good company helping you. The one I am using has a 100% money back guarantee. If for whatever reason the government does not approve my visa, through no fault of my own, then 100% of the proceeds given to the company will be refunded.
The documents required are in addition to the financial requirements of any Retirement Pensioner Visa required income per month, Investor Visa’s $25,000 minimum bank deposit (usually in form of a CD) or Real Estate property purchase valued at $25,000 or more. It is important to note that all required documents of any type expired in 180 days from the date they are issued.
What documents are needed? My answers are strictly based on those needed for Ecuador, and some may or may not apply to other countries.
- First thing you need is a current passport. It must have 12 months or more left before it must be renewed and at least two (2) additional pages left in the passport for stamping of the Residency Visa in Ecuador.
- If married, a re-issued Certified Copy from the County Clerk’s Office of the State/County you were married in and that must be then Apostilled by the Secretary of State in the state that issued your marriage certificate.
- Background check from the FBI and Apostilled by the Department of State in the country of issue.
- State Police Background Check from your current state of residence and Apostilled by the Secretary of State of the state you reside in.
- If you are going for a Retirement Pensioner Visa, you need a Social Security Benefits letter from your local office of the Social Security Administration or Military or other Government office which issues your federal pension. It must be stamped, signed and the name printed legibly of that local office’s Office Manager or representative on the second page below the words on the second page that read in capital letters “OFFICE MANAGER.” Once you have that, you order an Apostille of that document from the US Department of State in Washington, D.C. or your nation’s capitol.
- IMPORTANT: if any of the documents stated above have staples or hole punch-holders in them, DO NOT REMOVE any of them when copying or organizing the documents as the Immigration Ministry of Ecuador can and often will decline the visa because of their removal. In other words, by removing those items, it appears that the documents were altered or pages were substituted or exchanged.
If you want a Visa Via-Cable, meaning you receive your Residency Visa before arriving in Ecuador, you make two trips to the Ecuadorian Consulate in your home country to deliver the documents, wait 60-90 days for approval and then return to the Consulate for pick up your Residency Visa. When a visa is obtained this way, you do not need to have a return plane ticket.
As you can see, there are lots to do and as I stated earlier, you can do this yourself, but why invent the wheel. For a fee, a company familiar with the government of the country you are interested in can do all this for you. There will still be things you have to do, but the hard parts, they can do for you. Like getting all the documents translated into Spanish!
I think this is enough food for thought, at the present. As I get ready to start the document process, I will update on what may or may not have changed from what I have touched on in the earlier part of this discussion. And will provide any problems I may occur, whether due to a change in Ecuador’s Visa requirements or due to something I did not do correctly.
Next post will touch on what one needs to do to ship items overseas, whether its better to sell everything and buy all new in the country you are moving to or ship just certain items or an entire household.
Until later, I wish you all the best.
Terri at the Drake’s Nest