Ecuador’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced that beginning November 5, applications for foreign residency will no longer be processed in Cuenca.
Pablo Martinez, Regional Director for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on Wednesday that residency applications from Azuay, Cañar and Morona Santiago Provinces can be better handled at the Azoguez office, 18 miles north of Cuenca, in Cañar Province.
Martinez said that the Azoguez office is larger and better equipped to manage the work. In addition to applications, all issues relating to foreign residency will be handled in Azoguez.
The announcement represents an abrupt turn-about from three years ago when the Ministry said it was establishing the Cuenca office due to the large number of foreign residents, mostly North Americans, living in the city. According to immigration attorneys who work with foreigners, there are only a few dozen English-speaking expats living in Azoguez.
According to Martinez, the Cuenca office receives about 10 applications a day for permanent residency, many of them from citizens of the U.S. and Canada. In addition to North Americans, the largest number of applicants come from Colombia, Peru and Cuba.
“The move to Azoguez optimizes the work of the Ministry since we already have a large staff there,” Martinez says. “We can provide better service to foreign nationals in that office since it is where all the regional immigration records is kept.”
Martinez said that the ministry’s Cuenca office will continue to offer passport, document legalization services for Ecuadorians. It will also handle asylum issues and provide assistance to Ecuadorians living abroad.
The Azoguez immigration office is located in the Citizens Support Center, Av. April 16 at Babahoyo.