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Ecuador’s T-3 Visa demystified

Getting your visa in Ecuador can be one of the most confusing and stressful parts of your new life. Here is some good news: while the process of obtaining your proper visa can be frustrating, and full of more drama than a soap opera, it doesn’t need to be that way. Help is available in every part of Ecuador. So, take a nice deep breath and know that you can do this, there are people to help you, and the process can be streamlined in many ways.

So, first, let us cover the big picture. When you arrive in Ecuador, your passport will automatically be stamped with a T-3 Visa, also known as a 90-day tourist visa. You don’t have to do any paperwork, just go up to the Immigration Official at the airport and provide your passport. Ecuador requires that your passport be valid for at least six months after your travel date.

The T-3 is given once every 12 month period. For example, you enter the country on April 1, 2016, you have until April 1, 2017, to use these 90 days. If you leave the country before using all 90 days in the year, the T-3 is put on pause until you return. Your entry and exit days count against the total number. If you return before April 1, 2017, you have only what remains of the 90 days to spend in Ecuador. If you return after April 1, 2017, a new T-3 starts with all 90-days available.

If during the 90-day period you decide you want to stay longer, it is recommended that you start your Ecuador residency visa process by gathering your paperwork with at least 60-days remaining or as soon as you make the decision.  Submitting a visa application before the T-3 expires will avoid the added expense of a visa extension. As soon as your visa application is submitted to the Ministry of External Relations and Human Mobility, the time on your T-3 stops. You may remain in Ecuador legally for as long as it takes the Ministry to approve your residency visa even if your application is submitted with only one day remaining on your T-3 visa. If you don’t make the decision until the end of that 90-day period, you will need to take some action if you wish to remain in Ecuador. Your choices are to apply for an Extended Tourist visa, known as a 12-IX visa, which gives you an additional six months as a tourist in Ecuador to complete your application for your residency visa, which will last the rest of your life, if you follow the associated rules. Both options involve paperwork and fees. If you receive a six month tourist extension, you will need to apply for your residency visa before the end of that six months.

If you have any questions please contact Maite Duran at Gringo Visas.

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