A former high school classmate and cherished old friend when reconnecting with Roger through Facebook quoted the old saying: "When God closes a door, he opens a window." The years have seen a number of life changes for us that make that adage ring true. After being blessed with good fortune, a wonderful son and great experiences, we decided to look out that window and prepare for more of what this wonderful life has to offer. We hope through our blog to share our journey from this point forward with family, with friends and with many others. Hopefully we'll make some new friends along the way. We hope you find our tales of some interest, even amusement and perhaps an inspiration for you to treat each and every day as an opportunity and an adventure to share with those who are an important part of your life.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Paperwork Seems Never Ending Part II: "There's a light at the end of the tunnel!"

For the Yazells, The Phoenix Ecuadorian Consulate Office
was the light at end of a very long tunnel! 
Good news:  there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

More good news: it's not an oncoming train.

Those statements reflect some of the emotion of the past few weeks in getting our paperwork together.  It's been a real roller coaster ride as it probably has been for most people going through this experience.  We can't emphasize enough:  do your homework, research as much as you, ask questions and when you think you have all the answers, start the process all over again.  Just when you think you've got it down pat is usually when you discover...ooops, here's something we didn't know or here's something we misinterpreted or here's something new that we simply didn't uncover.  I'm sure it's happened to just about everyone whose gone through this process.

Let's begin by correcting a couple of miscues from our previous blog where we listed the necessary items for the 12-IX and 9-I visa:

I mentioned that the we were using the social security benefit statement to cover the financial security requirement for the 12-IX......WRONG.....we needed a current bank statement showing access to enough funds to support us during the term of our visa...thank goodness we found that out before we came to the consulate for our final visit and application approval process (again you can't ask too many questions and the only stupid question is the one you FAIL to ask!)

The other erroneous item in the previous blog concerned our process for the 9-I.  I mentioned we had to get notarized legalized color copies of passports from the consulate to send to attorneys in Ecuador.   WRONG again...the consulate office here does not do that.  Those color copies have to be legalized IN Ecuador.  We will be sending color copies of the first two pages of passports to our attorneys, in fact, two sets, one with a notarized statement from us that these are true and accurate copies.  However, they will have to legalized before a notary in Ecuador (our lawyers will handle this and be able to do it without us being present due to the power of attorney we placed with them before we left.

As a point of education to our readers, notaries in Ecuador are very different from notaries in the USA. Here in the US a notary serves to witness and document signatures, verifying that they were signed in their presence by the actual person signing the document.  In Ecuador, a notary is actually an official of the judicial system who is empowered to attest to the proper form and legality of a document presented to him.  It is two entirely different processes and it is very easy for us gringos to confuse them but the distinction is critically important in getting your proper documents filed.

OK, is everybody scratching their heads yet over all the details?   Well trust us, we did a bunch of that but it was all worth while  because on the 23rd of November we walked into the the Ecuadorian Consulate in Phoenix with our stack of documents in hand.  After thanking Gabby for her patience during all our phone calls and presenting our carefully prepared pile of "stuff", it was wonderful to hear her say "Your documents are just what is needed...I'm very proud of the work you did." Our only "glitch, as it were, was bringing a money order for $400 instead of the $450 that was really required.
(Note: the Phoenix consulate ONLY accepts money orders for payment, some consular offices may accept cash, as well,  but there are no payments of document fees  accepted by credit or debit cards, personal or even certified checks..again, another of the many questions you may need to ask, what fees and how is payment made?)  In any case, while our work was being reviewed and the documents prepared and stamped, Suzanne waited in the consulate while Roger ran for a supplemental money order.

Here's a breakdown of the fees we paid at the consulate office:

Roger's application fee:                                                              $   30
Roger's 12-IX Visa fee                                                                  200
Suzanne's application fee                                                                 30
Suzanne's 12-IX Visa fee   (spousal rate)                                         50
Certification of Roger's police report                                                50
Certification of Suzanne's police report                                            50
Certification letter for Roger's Social Security benefit statement       40

Total paid to consulate:                                                                 $450

In addition to the above fees, we've paid $10 each for police record searches, no charge for obtaining social security benefit statement, $25 for certified copies of marriage license,  $4 per document for apostillization in Illinois,  $ 10 per document for apostillization in Arizona plus some miscellaneous fed ex fees and  $150 for certified translations.  Expenses yet to come include about $1500 in lawyer's, visa and application fees.     For readers who have inquired about cost, we recommend budgeting roughly $3,000 for the process.  You may get by for less (some people don't necessarily go for the 12-IX) or you could conceivably spend more if you don't do it right the first time!

The office space on the other side of that door and window
is legally considered to be part of the nation of Ecuador!

Bottom line, we walked out of the Ecuadorian consulate with our 12-IX's and stamped passports in hand plus the final items we need to send to our attorneys for the 9-I application.   We will still need to register our visas  and obtain our censo cards when we arrive in Ecuador in January but after a year of work, it seemed a very special day indeed and we celebrated afterwards at one of our favorite Phoenix wine bars.

One hour after arriving, Roger and Suzanne proudly
display their passports and their 12-IX visa certificates.

As we gather on on Thanksgiving Day with some of our friends here in the Valley of The Sun, we will be giving thanks not only for their fellowship but for the bounties of life that enabled us to complete this  important step that enables us to continue....juntos en el camino de la vida!

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