Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Immigrant Visas from USA into Ecuador

Time for an update.  Pilgrim's Rest, our humble abode all these many years is beginning to get emptied out, and is almost completely empty as of now.  A few more weeks and we'll be out and in more temporary quarters where we will be dealing with the next phase of our journey. . . getting our Visas and documents in order.  Timely procured and produced, both for our extended visas, as well as our Cedulas for once we reenter Ecuador and apply for the indefinite visas we will need for our long term stay in Ecuador. 

I'll say this: I can't believe how many things we had here that were perfectly useable that we did not use.  Now that the end is in sight, and we can see the walls and inside of closets plainly, I for one don't want a repeat of that kind of collecting in our new residence in Cuenca.  Our life is not to be about "stuff". . . but of what the Lord wants us to be about, namely His Kingdom and the people he has created in His image. . . so we need to be free to respond to His call when he does so, including the breaking free from years, even decades worth of stored "stuff."  It feels great already. . . and we hope to enjoy that kind of freedom on a permanent basis in the months ahead.  

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Visa information courtesy of the Ecuadorian Consulate, 8484 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA  90210  (thank God we are in driving distance to it. . . not everyone in the United States is similarly situated, of course) 
The following is verbatim text from documents given to me from the Ecuadorian Consulate in June, 2014. 
Immigration Visa 9-1 Foreign Pension
1.  Application form of visa requirement with original colored photograph, passport size with white background.  Form can be found in the web page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Integration. 
For the case of visas 9-IV, 9-VI, a written petition must be presented, signed by the business, institution, or organization that sponsors addressed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Integration. 
2.  Original passport with a validity time of at least six months and migration's seal of the last entry to Ecuador. 
3.  Original and 2 legible copies of the paper of identifications of the passport and migration's seal of the last entry into Ecuador. 
4.  Updated criminal record certificate issued in the foreign country or the country where he has lived for the last five years, duly apostilled or legalized at the Consulate of Ecuador in the country granting, valid up to 180 days to the date of presentation. 
5.  Updated Migratory Movement Certificate issued by the Ecuadorian Immigration Authorities valid up to 30 days to the date of presentation. 
6.  In the case of a refugee, must submit a notarized copy of refugee card issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Integration to justify his stay in the country regularly. 
7.  Document issued by the institution that pays or provides retirement, pension, or permanent income coming from abroad, duly certified at the country of origin or authenticated by the Consul of Ecuador in the place of origin.  The amount should be not less than $800 (eight hundred dollars) of the United States of America as monthly rent to the holder, and will increase by $100 (one hundred dollars) of U. S. extra per month for each family member that is a dependent of the immigrant. 
8.  Certificate issued and authenticated by the Ecuadorian Foreign Service Officer in the country of origin, determining the perception of such retirement, pension or permanent income. 
Visa Validity: Indefinite
Entries: Multiple
Visa application: $30
Visa: $320
Important: The process is personal
Article 22 of the Immigration Law -  Officers of the Department of the Ecuadorian Foreign Service and the General Directorate of Immigration will have broad powers to require verification of the statements submitted in all applications for visas and other immigration documents and to ensure and investigate the facts of any of the causes of exclusion provided by the Immigration Law. 
Note - When presenting documents, they should be submitted according to the requirements established on this page in a folder. 
Issued for 6 months for tourists, athletes, students, scientists, artists, merchants, businessmen and their families.
  • Visa application form given at the Consulate;
  • Passport valid at least 6 more months;
  • Proof of financial sufficiency in the form of an economical guarantee sworn by a Notary Public; or a letter or a bank statement NOTARIZED or a NOTARIZED certificate from the applicant's employer;
  • Round trip tickets;
  • Two current colored photographs passport size; and
A fee of US $230.00 (200 visa + $30 application) CASH or a money order addressed to: Consulate General of Ecuador.
Please bring originals and copies of all these documents.

[end of verbatim text from two separate documents]
Two documents (one for me, one for my wife) of the Immigrant visa application form, FORMULARIO DE SOLICITUD DE VISA DE INMIGRANTE which are thankfully printed in both English and Spanish.  One page each. 
Combined with the previous information I've posted elsewhere on my companion weblog on this subject, it looks like we have a good record of what the Ecuadorian Ministry of Foreign Affairs requires in document form.  The process is personal, of course, and so we will be consulting appropriate abogados - lawyers - to see how we proceed.  Always good to get good counsel from those in the legal counseling business. . . . we don't need or want any mistakes from submitting our paperwork in any way! 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Guidance and Direction

Much has been happening in the intervening period here at Pilgrim's Rest.  Our previous thoughts on how to proceed and what kind of assets we will have in the future are modified by the kind and hopefully sound advice of our Estate and Trust attorney, as well as developments related to getting the residence listed for sale.

Our humble abode was put up for sale July 3.  On Sunday, July 6, a real estate agent notified me that she wanted to show the house to a prospective buyer.  That buyer put in a bid, which turned out not to be competing with any other concurrent bids - believe me, we had showings and interest from others in that time - and my real estate agent advised me that this would be a good offer to accept.  So we did, and the residence is now in a somewhat shortened escrow period to hold their feet to the fire so to speak and get the transaction done.  Pricing was very competitive to allow for a quick sale, and not drag out the process to get the highest dollar for the place, and residences for sale nearby in the neighborhood start at $20,000 more and higher for the same floorplan or similar.  So the buyers ultimately got a great deal from their perspective at a price point that may not be seen in this area for a very long time, if ever.   

This means that we have a lifetime of stuff to get rid of. . . fairly quickly!  It won't be following us to Ecuador, and there won't be room for it in our rented condo there either.  Storage there would be pointless, as would storage here.  We're done with "stuff. . . "  No need to hold on so tightly to things that we don't use or have no need of using anymore.  So time to let go of these things that aren't photographs, memories, important papers, and clothing (limited amount, of course).  Time to be free to serve God without the encumbrance of "stuff."  Besides, we need to travel light as we fly to Ecuador for our time living there as expats.  I read of one situation where a family of four traveled with 15 suitcases by air to Ecuador.  We are just a couple, and will have to manage with less, no doubt. 

It is a kind of death to self, and is a sobering event.  Think of it as a "Living Estate Sale," and you get the drift.  Your life's belongings, paraded before anyone who comes in for the advertised sale, offered for far less money than what it originally cost in the beginning, in most cases. . . if you can find the item for sale anymore!  In some cases, you can't. 

A free ad was placed, and the response was underwhelming - both times.  We had signs and the help of two older girls from our church the second time, and despite their sign waving, we netted a pittance. . . we just don't live in prime garage sale territory here in the exurbs of Southern California.  The garage sale kinda folks, people our age and a bit older, often have moved out of the area and out of state already, further diminishing our potential pool of buyers.  So off to nonprofit groups the stuff will go, as well as to a church we know that takes in good furniture for those who can appreciate it.  Beyond that, it will have to hit the scrap heap. . . sobering thought when you think about it. 

On what to do with the proceeds of the sale of the residence here, our beloved "Pilgrim's Rest". . . the advice our Estate and Trust attorney gave us, due in part to our age, our lack of savings over the years and generally lower income, and where we plan to be living, since we're going to be outside the United States, led him to for multiple reasons to advise investing the bulk of the funds in an annuity that can be stepped up in terms of the interest rate as is possible.  That way, with a guaranteed income, and possibility for increased interest rate, we can plan what our income can be with a more sure certainty, as well as set some future goals for what those monies could be used for in a future "rainy day" to come.  We may not have much in terms of finances to invest, but we need to invest wisely and as our attorney reminded us, the long distance expense of dealing with a property manager and paying them every month, paying for repairs, and taking the risk of having the rental unit occupied generating income is too high, even when added to the possibility of selling for more than the unit was paid for - not an absolute certainty or given, and something that takes more risk and resources than we have to bear.  So out with the whole idea of owning a rental property to invest in.  An annuity would be a better path for us.

Now our time can be focused on getting these belongings out to where they belong. . . and getting our papers and belongings we do take in order.  Dealing with the escrow company and process as well. . . and where to live short term as we will still need time - that precious commodity that we can never get back - to get our Visas from the Ecuadorian Consulate in Beverly Hills.  We haven't forgotten, and perhaps this way of getting it all finalized is the better way, as we can thus focus on one aspect of the moving process one item at a time.  It feels daunting, with all the stuff to move out of the house, but good.  Our muscles will tell the tale later, no doubt!