Reporting that the process took about two months from start to finish, William Chester became the first North American to receive his residency visa at the new Cuenca immigration office, on Aug. 21. Several others followed, according to the office.
"My wife and I are very grateful for all the help we received and it is an honor to be residents of Ecuador and Cuenca," said Chester, a U.S. citizen.
A part of the national Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the new visa office, located on Av. Ordoñez Lasso in Edif. Astudillo, opened its doors in June and serves Ecuadorians and refugees as well as expats and potential expats.
According to Ana Lucia Serrano, regional director of the foreign ministry, the Cuenca immigation office is an effort to accommodate the large number of foreigners seeking permanent and temporary visas in the Cuenca area. “There are about 4,000 English-speaking foreigners living here and more are coming,” she says.
Serrano says that the entire visa process, from application to issuance of the cedula, Ecuador’s national ID card, can be handled in Cuenca. Until June, when the office opened, applicants were required to work with the immigration office in Quito. “Many of the staff in my office speak English and can help applicants through the process,” she says. “There is no longer the need to hire an attorney.” The cost for the residency visa, she says, is $320, with an additional $30 application fee.
“It is important that the applicant bring the appropriate documents, depending on the visa that they are seeking, to our office to begin the application process,” she says.
Contact the Cuenca Immigration office
The new office is in the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores on the ground floor of Edificio Astudillo on Ordonez Lasso, two blocks west of Avenida de las Americas. Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. Applicants can file in person (there is no need to pay an attorney). Personnel are bi-lingual. The office handles new applications only (applications filed in Quito must be completed there). For more information, see www.mmrree.gob.ec (click "Servicios") or email Ana Lucia Serrano at email@example.com or phone 285 0085.