Thursday, February 5, 2015

Applying for Our Indefinite Stay Visas (Cedulas)

Skipping ahead of the timeline narrative - will come back later and fill in some more details - to discuss the all important issue of obtaining our indefinite stay visas, called Cedulas here in Ecuador. 

Yesterday the day finally came - after so much preparation of the necessary documents beforehand while still in the United States -  when we could see the lawyer who would see our applications and documents for our Cedulas through to completion, and likely approval from the Ecuadorian government.  I gathered our documents together - already done, actually - and ensured from newly installed Internet service here at the condo to this laptop computer that we had the correct address for our law firm, Coloaustro.  Off to the front of our building here to get a taxi for our appointment at 4:00 PM.  

We arrived at the new, gleaming six story office building near the modern Millenium Plaza office complex ahead of time and learned that we had to take the elevator up to the fifth floor, then walk up the stairs to the sixth floor, which is the top floor.  The receptionist, Merci, greeted us and let us know that Dr. Galo Cardenas, our abogado - lawyer, and principal partner in the firm, as it turns out - would be informed of our presence in the reception area.  

Dr. Cardenas welcomed us a bit earlier than the scheduled time, and gave the traditional Latin American warm greetings to us.  He let us know he had recently temporarily taken on some new cases/clients, and was working some longer hours - 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM weekdays, but that in a short time that would return to normal and he would not be as hard pressed for time, especially with his wife and children.  Here in Ecuador, family is more important than working long hours at a professional job week after week, year after year.  A refreshing attitude if you ask me.

The business at hand of obtaining a Cedula for my wife and I was discussed.  Dr. Cardenas looked over the documents, and after he realized that my wife qualified us for the pensionado pensioner's visa, he pronounced all of our documents good for submission.  Looking at the dates of the various documents, with dates from September to November 2014 on them, he realized these documents would need to be hotfooted to the Ecuadorian government authorities this month - and in a few short days in fact - in order to not come so close to the expiration deadline(s).  So translations of the documents into Spanish would get our lawyer's personal and immediate attention in the next 48 hours, he assured us.

All of these papers would result in success in the granting of our Cedulas, according to the counsel of our legal Counselor,  However, due to the pickiness of the Cuenca office of the Ministry of Immigration on how they have been processing Cedula applications of late - perhaps since mid November according to one source - he advised us he will have the papers filed in Quito instead, where there is a satellite office of his law firm to assist in the process in the Ecuadorian capital city.  "You will have to go to Quito in a month to a month and a half to appear before the office there," informed our knowledgeable and experienced legal professional.  

"If necessary, I and my team will - how would you put it - do some things to make the papers work to get you your Visas and Cedulas," Dr. Cardenas allowed.  

"You mean, 'fudge' the documents?" I asked.

"In a word, yes," he grinned.  I could see he knew English well enough that he knew that in this case, "fudge" was not referring to food. . . it was referring to something Latin Americans know all too well. . . grease that makes things get done in social and in this case legal/governmental circles!  That's all I'm gonna say about that!

Costs: $2200 total, which is $1850 to the law firm for their services, and $350 Ecuadorian government tax (not the IVA sales tax) on the transaction.  $750 to pony up to start by Friday, when we come in and sign the application(s) at the law office.  We also need to supply five copied color photos of ourselves apiece - the ones we had made for our USA Passports that were with the white borders we had made at Costco in Lancaster will do nicely, Dr. Cardenas told us - and that will get the process in motion.  Waiting time for processing from start to finish: two months, we were told.  The Visa(s) comes first, and then the Cedula card(s) five days afterwards.  We pick them up at the law office in Cuenca.  That's it!

Finally, this parting thought: we were recommended to Coloaustro abogados by some friends we met at our church.  One of them we learned was related to one of the firm's employees, and I figured that was a rather good endorsement for their services, since they could back up their accounts of having successfully provided the visa and Cedula to previous applicants.  You get what you pay for.  In a climate of lawyers, facilitators, and document translators not always delivering what is expected of them in an honest and timely manner, we thought it was best to go with what we knew.  I know there are people out there with lesser priced and "better mouse trap" deals. . . but again, we are staying with what we believe to be reputable people doing a fair, timely, and professional task on our behalf.  Our future in Cuenca and Ecuador depends on it.  

By the way, Dr. Cardenas has by his own account successfully assisted 300 or so clients with getting their Visas/Cedulas.  Only one he knows of failed in the attempt.  

I'd have to say that's an outstanding scoring average, to use a basketball sporting metaphor.  Lord, we are grateful for Dr. Cardenas and his staff.  We are in his hands. . . and Yours!                     

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