“Kathleen, my son and I have reservations to fly from JFK to Guayaquil on Sept. 3 then on to Cuenca from there and a return flight to the United States Feb. 26, a visit of approximately six months. Rather than apply for a six-month visa, I planned to visit Panama for a week or so around the three-month mark then return to Cuenca for the remaining time bringing us to slightly less than six months in Ecuador.
I looked into a six-month visa by phoning the Ecuadorian Consulate nearest me and found it required quite a bit of paperwork and will cost US$460 for both of us. I realize time is short and don’t think I can gather the required paperwork before leaving. I was surprised by the amount of documentation required to extend a 90-day trip into 180 days.
My questions are: Is my original plan of leaving Ecuador after the initial 3 months (90 days) then coming back for the remainder of our approximately 6 months allowed? Should I try to get the six-month visa prior to leaving the States? Can I apply for a six-month visa once we’ve arrived in Ecuador and, if so, is the documentation as extensive as it is prior to leaving the United States?
I’ve posted this question on your Facebook page as well.”
–Nancy M., United States
Latin America Correspondent Lee Harrison replies:
Yes, the visa can be extended from within Ecuador or by leaving the country as you suggest.
If you extend your trip while in Ecuador, you’ll need to undertake that effort at the nearest immigration office (there’s one in Cuenca). If either you or your son speaks Spanish, this probably won’t be a problem. Note, though, that the immigration folks always emphasize that an additional three months is not guaranteed.
In fact, they prefer to give you extensions in 30-day increments, so you may have to process several renewals. A lawyer could help with all the paperwork, but, in the end, that could be more expensive than just getting the six-month tourist visa.
If you’re going to Panama anyway, I think a new entry is probably easier, as there’s no paperwork required. And it’s also more likely that you’ll get a full 90-day renewal after a (genuine) trip to Panama. That said, I do know of people who came back from a five-day “visa-extension” trip to get only 30 days at the border. In other words, the Panama trip is a risk, unless you really just want to go to Panama anyway.
If, though, you’re not otherwise going to Panama, it’s probably cheaper and easier to get the 180-day tourist visa at the consulate (it’s a 12-IX visa). Yes, it’s a hassle getting it…but then you can stay in the country for the entire trip without the annoyance of getting extensions or of leaving Ecuador.
If your son is a dependent, he may be able to get his visa for just US$50, in addition to the cost of your visa.
As to petitioning the six-month visa after entering Ecuador, it might be possible…but I wouldn’t chance it. Exterior Relations says to get them from the consulate, and they may hold you to that.
More on Ecuador’s consulate services in the U.S. here.
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