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I just went to submit my visa transfer form to the MInistry of Foreign Relations. My old passport expires in May, so I have a new one and need to get my residency visa transferred over.
After getting 7 documents notarized as required for the transfer (copy of marriage certificate, copy of the old visa, copy of the old and new passports, copy of my Ecuadorian ID card) and preparing a letter to the current director of foreign affairs, whatever that is, I got my number and waited in line.
Maria accompanied me to see the “gentleman” who is supposedly there to receive the documents and enter them into the system. Immediately, he said, “Well, this letter is not written to the proper person.”
We pointed out that we had gotten the name on the letter from the MInistry Offices. He said “He's due to go abroad as Ambassador and if the letter is not directed to the proper person your visa could be annulled.” He then went on to tell us that if, for any reason, they (they being the “judicial department”) decided that the original visa was improperly issued in the first instance, it could be cancelled.
We asked, how are we supposed to know who the proper person is when we have called and called here and gotten no answer, and finally did get an answer at the Ministry. He said, “We don't take phone calls or give out any information here.” So we asked, well how are we supposed to know who the right name is? “Well, you should have come here and asked.”
“You just said you don't give out any information here.” He didn't know where to hide.
He went through each page one by one, slowly, looking for an error or something to call us on. It was painfully obvious he was just looking to trip us up so he wouldn't have to accept the papers. Who knows if this is plain laziness, plain meanness, incompetence, that they've been instructed as bureaucrats to make the process as slow and agonizingly painful as possible, or maybe he was just having a bad day? Who knows? But it's hard not to ask what is wrong in this country when nearly every public transaction is similar to this one.
Finally, he said, this paper needs notarization-the copy of Maria's ID card. Maria pointed out that nowhere on the web page does it say that the ID needs notarization. “Yes, but according to article 22 as a public employee I can ask for any additional documentation I deem necessary.” Ok, so that opens it up to the fact that you can make this process as arbitrary, arduous, and long as you wish! Great.
I haven't even filled in all the details of the ridiculous back and forth that went on between Maria and this guy, but it was obvious he was not looking to help us out. I don't know where these people get their knack for finding ways to vaingloriously waste their own and other people's time, but it's a notorious trait in this country. Welcome to Ecuador! Stay tuned for the update tomorrow!