Tips on how to stay in Ecuador for up to a year (possibly more) on tourist visas
As an American citizen I can stay in Ecuador, among many other countries, for three months on just the free T3 basic entry stamp that you get when you enter the country.
This is how I stayed in Ecuador for a year without applying for residency.
The easiest way to stay for an extended period of time is to get the 12-IX (12-9) extended (six month) visa at the local Ecuadorian Consulate before you leave (Around $230). Once you arrive you can/must register your visa in the “migration” office in Guayaquil, Quito and now even Cuenca. Before your visa expires you can go into a neighboring country and return for the T3 stamp which you will be eligible for since you didn’t come into Ecuador on a T3 to begin with. If you plan to go by bus make sure you cross the border during the day and read my story on busing to Peru.
* The bus line I now recommend is Azuay and make sure you buy a ticket to a destination like Mancora that takes you through the border and to each one of the immigration sites for stamping, instead of just to the border to figure it out on your own.
You may want to take this as an opportunity to visit Machu Picchu, I highly recommend flying. Just the bus ride from Lima to Cusco can take anywhere from 22-30 hours. You can also fly into Colombia and visit some of the friendliest people and beautiful cities.
The T3 now gives you three more months. Go into a Migration office in one of the three cities I mentioned above and apply for a 12-V visa AT LEAST one month before your T3 expires. This is an extended tourist visa which requires a written letter (in Spanish) with reason for applying such as places you still want to visit ect. It’s a bargain at only $60. This will give you another three months in the country.
If you want to spend more time than the year it is possible but unfortunately you do have to return to the states to apply and get another 12-IV all over again. That will get another six months all over again.
I never reapplied for another six month visa since I have my sights set on other countries but I was advised by several different workers in the Cuenca Migration office that it was an option since it had been a solid year since my first 12-IV. If this is your plan be sure to double and triple verify this information since I was informed by an immigration officer on the way out of Ecuador that I could not return for 12 months. Conflicting information is common where visa information is concerned. I can only attest to what I have actually done. I hope you find this helpful.