Once we decided on Ecuador we had what I saw as an incredibly large task of figuring out how exactly we move to another country as an entire family.
When I moved to Guyana about 10 years ago, it was considerably more simple. I still lived with my parents, so when I was ready I bought a plane ticket and moved. I took what I could carry, the rest I figured out. Immigration wasn’t a big deal there, just say you were a missionary and you could stay as long as you wanted (at the time).
It’s much less straightforward with a family of 4, 2 vehicles, a home that we own, a full-time job, and all the other things typical of North-American life.
Our first priority was getting residency figured out. Our friend, Tracy, put us in touch with some Ecuadorian lawyers to help us out with this. We definitely would not have been able to make sense of residency requirements without them. Even still, we were chasing a moving target.
This is something I’ve found typical of developing countries: They’re in development. What this meant for us was the requirements for residency were often changing even while we were in the process, and getting a good understanding of what we actually needed to do was challenging at the best of times.
From the beginning our lawyers laid out the cost of having them do residency for us, however where our planning fell short was in estimating the cost of doing paperwork on our end. What caught us off guard was the time and expense getting our documents sent out to Ecuador – everything had to be translated, notarized and apostilled. What made this extra expensive and frustrating was that on several occasions the documents that we sent ended up not meeting the ever-changing immigration requirements, so we had to repeat the process, sinking more time and money into what seemed like a never-ending endeavor.
Looking back on that, however, I don’t think that there was much that we could have done differently. Our lawyers were also getting frustrated with the changing requirements. My recommendation to anyone looking to move to another country: Do not underestimate the challenge of immigration. I’ve gone through the process once in bringing my wife to Canada and I’m going through it again. It is always stressful, there is always more than you expected.
At any rate, presently we’re in the last leg of the temporary-residency marathon, even though we’re currently living in Ecuador (we’re on a tourist visa until our residency goes through). Actually, as an example of how things change quickly – when we started we were applying for permanent residency, however they just changed the laws so that nobody applying for residency can be a permanent resident on the first application. We’re still waiting on clarification on when we can apply for permanent residency. But from what I understand, temporary residency is supposed to last us two years so this will give us a chance to get accustomed to living in Ecuador before we have to figure out permanent residency. See why I call this never ending?
The next challenge was to figure out how to actually tie off life in Canada for a fresh start in Ecuador. A story for another post.