Had you asked me a few years ago whether teaching English in Ecuador on an Ecuador professional visa, I would have been like: what!! Are you kidding me?
See, for the record, a few years ago, I knew nothing about Ecuador. Yet, when I stumbled upon an opportunity to teach English in Ecuador as a paid volunteer, I jumped on it. The program was run by Ecuador government and they needed EFL teachers from many countries.
The whole idea of going to Ecuador, a faraway country for an Indian like me, was so exciting. At that time, Ecuador was visa-free for Indians and I, along with a friend decided to become an EFL teacher in Ecuador. And I just fell in love with it. The culture, the food, the people- everything.
I spent close to a whole year, teaching English in Ecuador, before coming back to India. After coming back, I decided to apply for a professional visa for Ecuador, also known as a freelance visa for Ecuador.
Bureaucratic processes in Ecuador are often complicated and more annoying than they need to be. If you don’t speak Spanish, you can often hit a roadblock. But Ecuador doesn’t deny a professional visa if you fulfill all the requirements.
But before we jump into the application process and requirements for Ecuador professional visa, let me explain to you what it is.
What’s an Ecuador Professional Visa?
Foreign citizens who want to perform professional activities in Ecuador can get a professional or freelance visa for Ecuador. This means you can a business in Ecuador, you can run your Etsy store, do artisan things, give private English classes or whatever. If you want, you are free to work, or not work, or do a bit of both.
It’s a temporary resident visa for Ecuador, and one of the easiest visas to get. It gives you a lot of flexibility as a digital nomad or freelance. And it leads up to becoming a resident in Ecuador.
Ecuador Professional Visa Application Process
The application process for the professional visa for Ecuador is a two-step process, involving two different government entities.
Register your educational qualification in Senescyt ( Secretaría de Educación Superior, Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación). Here is the article I wrote on how to register a profession in Ecuador as a foreigner.
Once Senescyt has received your documents and you have a receipt from them, you can take that receipt and apply for the professional visa in a migraciones office with the other documents.
Requirements for Ecuador Professional Visa
The documents that you need to show for a Freelance visa for Ecuador are pretty standard for every country, although it might vary a little from country to country.
Approval of Profession from Senescyt
The professional visa from Ecuador is subject to the approval of your profession from Senescyt, a government organization. And in order to get this approval, you have provide the apostilled copies of your academic transcripts.
The educational certificates and mark sheets are the first and foremost requirements for a professional visa. And remember that your certificates, mark sheets, and any transcripts that you present must be apostilled in your home country.
I would recommend you to get them apostiled no matter where you are coming from. There have been instances in the past where nationals of different countries ended up in Ecuador without having their certificates apostiled, and their applications were rejected.
In my case, since I have a master’s, I got the certificates and mark sheets for both masters and bachelors apostilled in India before coming to Ecuador.
Police Clearance Certificate for Ecuador Visa
Police verification or criminal history record is a requirement to get visas for many countries, and Ecuador is no exception. Depending on where you are from, you can get a Police clearance certificate from your state or from a federal authority such as FBI.
The certificates issued by federal governments are valid as long as they include criminal records at the national level.
There are two ways to get police verification.
- The better way
Get a police clearance report from your home country before coming to Ecuador.
- The trickier way
If for some reason, you couldn’t get the police check done in your country, then you can get it through your embassy in Ecuador. However, know that there are many countries that don’t have an embassy or diplomatic representation in Ecuador. So do your homework in case you want to get the police verification report in Ecuador.
In my case, I got the police clearance report from the embassy of India in Colombia, which was in Spanish and English.
This certificate must be apostilled as well. I didn’t have to notarize it. But I have heard from expats who had to. I didn’t have to get my certificate translated, but there is a big chance that you would need to do so if it’s not in Spanish, and then translated.
So the rule of thumb: Get the original apostilled. Then get it translated and notarized in Ecuador.
Ecuador Criminal Record
The Ecuador criminal record is needed only if you were in Ecuador prior to applying the visa. It is issued by the Ministry of the Interior through the website: http://www.mdi.gob.ec/minterior1/antecedentes/
Migratory Movement for Ecuador
Once you are in Ecuador, you can obtain a migratory movement issued by the Ministry of the Interior. It should be valid for a minimum validity of thirty days from the date of issue, when you submit the professional visa application for Ecuador.
You can get this easily by paying $5 in a Banco del Pacífico branch, and then submitting the receipt along with a copy of your passport bio and the page with Ecuador entry stamp in a migraciones office of Ecuador. They have offices in most of cities.
Health Insurance for Ecuador
Foreign citizens must have a public or private health insurance, in order to maintain a temporary or permanent stay in Ecuadorian territory. The health insurance issued must be also presented to the human mobility authority within 30 days after the granting of the visa.
In my case, I took health insurance from Humana Ecuador for 3 months for the visa.
Proof of Funds for Ecuador Freelance Visa
Submitting credit card statements or bank statements for visa applications is a requirement for a lot of visa applications. In the case of Ecuador professional visa, you need to submit proof of financial solvency in order to justify that you can sustain yourself.
Bank statements for the last three months and credit card statements will do the trick. As per how much money you need to show for the freelance visa application for Ecuador, a good estimate will be something more than $1500 USD. The more, the merrier.
I submitted the bank statements for my Indian bank account as well as the Ecuadorian bank account.
Ecuador Professional Visa Application Form
You can download the Ecuador visa application form and fill it, and sign it.
You need to submit the photo copies of passport bio page, and the page with Ecuador entry stamp as well as a copy of any existing Ecuadorian visa.
Your passport must be valid for at least six months.
Photo for Visa
A passport size color photograph that has 70-80% of your face.
Get Appointment for Professional Visa Application
You can get the appointment for Ecuador professional visa application on the website of Ecuador’s external ministry.
Once you get the appointment, you need to go to the required immigration office with the receipt from Senescyt and all other documents.
Ecuador Professional Visa Fees, Processing Time & Duration
Main applicant- $450
Each dependant – $250
30 days usually
Teach English in Ecuador with Professional Visa
Once you have a freelance visa for Ecuador, you can apply for jobs. Although a lot of foreigners use the visa to find opportunities to teach English in Ecuador, you can apply for other jobs as well. Whenever you apply for a job, your prospective employer will check whether your degree is approved in Senescyt using your cedula or passport number.
Alternately, if you want to give private classes or do business or freelancing work, you can also do it using this visa.
Police Verification for US Citizens for Ecuador Professional Visa
US citizens have to get background checks both from your state and a federal background check. Those documents then have get an apostille at the state level (for the state one). The federal-level verification has to be mailed to Washington DC to get an official stamp. Then when you get to Ecuador you have to get them officially translated and then notarized.
Ecuador Visa 90 Day Rule
If you are in Ecuador on any temporary resident visa, you can’t leave for more than 90 days in a year. So that means anyone who is on a professional visa for Ecuador, can’t leave for more than 90 days.
If you leave for more than 90 days, you would need to pay a hefty fine when you come back. However, you can cancel the visa before you leave and reapply when you are back in Ecuador.