Probably the most complicated part of moving to ANY country is getting the visa. My husband had to get a visa for the US while we were there working. And let me tell you, getting an Ecuador visa is much easier! Much easier! And less time consuming.
Note: Visa procedures change frequently. To avoid outdated material, I've provided a link below for a complete list of requirements as set out by the Ecuadorian government.
As I am personally digging for information on visas, I'm finding conflicting information on requirements.
First you need to determine the visa that fits your situation best. Do you have a pension? Are you going to buy a house in Ecuador? Are you going to do missionary work? There's a separate visa for each circumstance.
Non-immigrant visas come with an expiration date. A year or two usually. They can be renewed in Ecuador prior to expiring with proper documents and fees. You will not be able to work in most instances. These visas usually require that an organization or school sponsor your visa.
Non-immigrant options include:
Immigrant visas are issued for an indefinite amount of time. They would only be revoked if you no longer met the visa requirements which are reviewed each time you renew your Ecuadorian ID card. If you can find work, you can work on these visas.
Options for the immigrant visa include:
Update 2017: I will be posting new visa info shortly as the visa process has had some changes made to it. I'm sifting through the info currently.
For the most part, all the visas available require you to prove you have adequate funds to live in Ecuador. In some instances a sponsor can be included to prove economic support.
A new requirement for Immigrant visas is a FBI report for those living in the US or its equivalent in other countries.
See some of the common questions I receive about visas on my FAQ page.
If you apply for an Immigrant visa your residency is indefinite. But you can loose it.
During the first two years of residency you can only be outside of Ecuador a total of 90 days per year. Meaning... Year one: 90 day max out of Ecuador. Year two: 90 days max.
After the initial two years are over, you can leave Ecuador for up to 18 months without jeopardizing your residency.
If you invest money or make a deposit in the Banco Central to qualify for residency, you can loose your residency if you withdraw that money. This includes if you were to sell your real estate in Ecuador and do not immediately invest that money into the country.
While your Ecuador visa is valid you may not face any penalties for violating any of the above mentioned rules. But when you go to renew your cedula (Ecuadorian ID card) all of the above are often reviewed and could be reason for your application being denied.
For a complete list of visas and requirements for each, see the Ecuador Embassy in Washington D.C. web site. It has a lot of good info on all available visas and you can even download some of the paperwork to get yourself started.
Another good website is http://cancilleria.gob.ec. It has info on all the different visas available including lists of requirements. It also seems to be kept up to date with the newest information. Plus you can download some of the forms required.