According to Mayra León, Cuenca attorney and director of Ecuador Legal Services™, prospective expats are often not aware of the legal options that can make their relocation to Ecuador easier.
An example, Mayra says, is the fact that there are visa options that offer greater freedom to leave the country than the common residency and investment visas.
“Many foreigners do not like the restrictions of residence visas and like to be able to come and go from Ecuador as they please,” she says, referring to the restrictions that apply to the first two years of those visas. “We have a visa option that costs 50% less than an investment visa that allows for multiple entries and no 90-day-per-year limitation on being outside of Ecuador.”
Unfortunately, Mayra says, too many foreigners considering a move to Ecuador rely too much on hearsay from Internet forums and blogs written by expats with limited knowledge of immigration regulations.
One option for expats who plan to work after they move to Ecuador, she says, is the work visa. “Creating your own company and getting an Ecuadorian work visa is a great option if you need the freedom to travel in and out of Ecuador frequently,” she says.
One reason the work visa is rarely used, Mayra says, is because non-lawyers who help expats with visas are not familiar with it. “Facilitators can’t offer this option as they are not lawyers and can’t create companies to provide for work visas which we specialize in,” she says.“With your own company you are not only in control of your time, but of your money and investments too.”
“Creating a company and getting a work visa are great alternatives to retirement or investment visas because they can provide the freedom that North Americans enjoy. That’s what my husband did before we married and he has some interesting stories to tell.”
To learn more about Mayra León and her work withEcuador Legal Services, we sat down to talk to her.
CHL: Tell me a little about yourself and your background:
M.L.: Well I have been a Doctor of Law for the past 15 years and have 5 other degrees; two are in English. I was born in Quito but came back to Cuenca 2 days after my birth, so I am Cuencana. My husband is a North American and we’ve been married over 2 years but have no children. I was Chief of Staff to the Minister of Tourism in Quito from 2003 to 2004 and managed 80 people. Also, I was Director of two Municipalities in Azuay.
I love to swim, watch English comedies and U.S. attorney TV shows and movies, crochet and knit, create art and leather crafts and go for long walks.
CHL: How about Ecuador Legal Services? Talk about the legal work that you do.
M.L.: We practice all types of law except criminal law: Residence and Work Visas and visa extensions, Civil Law, Tenancy Law, Condo Regulations, Real Estate Services, Business Consulting, Labor Law, Intellectual property, Wills and inheritance, SRI relationship management, Residence Visas and visa extensions.
CHL: How long has Ecuador Legal Services been in business?
As the founder, I have been practicing law for 15 years but we created my website for foreigners last year.
CHL: What can your clients expect from the services provided by Ecuador Legal Services? What makes you different?
M.L.: When you phone my office, a North American will answer the phone! We are also different because we always want to tell the truth and never mislead clients. Our process is always the same. To us, it’s important to always give the best advice and be honest.
First we discover what it is you want and need. Second, we always check the current laws as they are amended all the time and we stay in contact with the public service divisions involved. Third, we advise you of your options and recommended solutions. After that, clients make their choice and we proceed.
On our website we have many testimonials from pleased clients. Many of our services are with fixed prices. An important issue to mention is that many of our competitors who offer visa services are not even lawyers and charge their clients almost double my fees for residence and investment visas services.
CHL: You say your fees are lower. Do you mind telling us what they are?
M.L.: Not at all. Here are some examples of our costs.
- Ecuador Retirement or Pension Visa is $595 per adult of 18+ years. Plus there is a $550 Government Filing Fee. You don’t pay Government fees if you are 100% disabled.
- Real Estate Closing in Ecuador at $650. However, taxes, municipal and notarial fees are not included. English translations are for buy/sell agreements or contacts are available for a small fee.
- We advise in the creation of Wills and Testaments in Ecuador for a Flat Fee of $195 per person. Notarial fees are not included and you don’t pay fees if you are 65 years old or older.
- We help with Ecuador Tourist Visa Extensions that are valid for an additional 6 months.Our flat fee is $195 per person. Plus there is a $450 Government Filing Fee.
Children under age 18 only cost $100 each and pay a $200 Government Filing Fee.
CHL: Can I engage with Ecuador Legal Services while living in the United States?
M.L.: Yes, we have a US phone number, +1.727.288.2178 for personal or conference calls. We are also available through Skype and email. A native English speaker will answer the phone!
CHL: Gringos can be very afraid when preparing for their move or making an investment in a foreign country such as Ecuador. How can Ecuador Legal services prepare them for transitions like this?
M.L.: Moving anywhere can be difficult and we can help prevent stress by having all of the paperwork in order. We can advise of the latest changes in immigrant or non-immigrant law and the requirements for these visas.
Our free Guidebook to Ecuadorian Law on our website is a 27 page booklet in PDF format that can also help.
CHL: Is there a benefit for expats already living in Ecuador using Ecuador Legal Services?
M.L.: Yes of course. Cost is one factor but having a real lawyer can save people a lot of stress as well. We feel that doing it right the first time really fits our prime goal of providing Ecuador legal services to foreigners.
CHL: What is the best way to contact Ecuador Legal Services?
M.L.: Our hours are from 9am to 6pm. You can reach our office from other provinces in Ecuador at 07 408.5011, local Azuay/Cuenca 408.5011, call our USA phone +1.727.288.2178, visit our website www.EcuadorLegalServices.com and/or email us at EcuadorLegalServices@gmail.com. We also use Skype and WhatsApp.