How do I acquire permanent residency in Paraguay?
What are the requirements, what is the process like, and how long does it take before I receive my cédula?
I am a US citizen, if that is important.
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All of this is based on my own experience obtaining permanent resident status in Paraguay. Also, note that this info is a couple of years old, so some of the requirements may have changed!
There's six parts to the process:
Everybody needs to have at least two documents:
Yes, your FBI record must be apostilled!
If you are married and/or have children or other dependents, there are some additional documents that you need to acquire. Being relatively single and childless, I haven't been paying attention to that stuff. If you are familiar with the documents required in this case, please update this answer (:
If you have undergone a name change, you should also acquire a notarized copy of your name change document.
Collect all your documents and have them legalized at the nearest Paraguayan consulate.
Each document costs about US$30-35 for legalization, so for a birth certificate and a criminal background check, the total cost should be about US$70. In my case, I needed a name change document legalized as well, so I had to pay a total of US$100.
The turnaround on legalization is usually 3-5 days. Don't expect to turn in your documents in the morning and pick them up that afternoon!
A legalized document will have a special stamp applied to it, singed by a Paraguayan official. It's basically a certification by a Paraguayan authority that your document is legitimate.
US citizens must have a tourist visa to travel to Paraguay. The cost is US$100, and you can have that done while you are visiting the consulate to have your documents legalized.
In my case, I didn't plan this out very well, and I ended up using VisaHQ to have this done.
Note that your visa will say, "Visa not valid to request temporary or permanent residence in the Republic of Paraguay." Don't worry; every visa says that. In fact, if you ask at the consulate, they'll tell you that is exactly the visa that you need if you want to apply for residency.
Acquire US$5k for a bank deposit that you will be making in the country (note: you might not end up with a bank account; more on that in a second), and another US$2-4k for fees.
In Paraguay, non-residents can open bank accounts, but the process is rather complicated. 
If you prefer to keep things simple (as I did), you can deposit your funds at the central bank of Paraguay instead. There it will sit – interest-free – until you receive your admisión permanente, at which point you can pick up your cash and open a real bank account if you wish (or buy some property or start a business or...).
Once you have all your documents and funds in order, it's time to get in touch with an fixer. There are a few in the area:
Unfortunately, I don't have links for these individuals.
A good fixer will arrange for transportation, accompany you to each of the different offices as you go through the application process and provide translation services where needed. You can also mail your documents, and your fixer will start the process early to save you time when you arrive.
I don't know if it's possible to navigate the residency process without a fixer, but everyone I know who has acquired permanent resident status in Paraguay has worked with an fixer.
By the time you contact your fixer, you should have all the documents you need. Confirm whether you need any additional documents (in some cases, you might need reference letters or photos, but these are very fast and easy to acquire) and schedule the date you will be arriving in Asunción.
When I worked with Bettina, I also wired her fee ahead of time and mailed her my documents early so that everything would be ready to go as soon as I arrived.
There is a ton of demand for Paraguayan permanent residency these days, so every fixer you contact is likely to be very busy. You should fully expect them to triage their emails, so if you don't indicate in your email that you have all your documents and are ready to pull the trigger, you probably won't get a response.
Don't send an email requesting to call them or asking them to answer your questions. Tell them you have your documents in hand and indicate which dates you are thinking of traveling to Paraguay. THEN they'll be happy to answer your questions!
Time to gather everything up and travel to Paraguay!
Make sure your documents are secure. As noted above, you can mail them to your fixer in Asunción if you want. I sent mine via DHL; it cost about US$50, and took 4 days to arrive. It had a tracking number, and I set up email alerts, so I got a notification as soon as it was delivered and signed for.
Before you go, consider how you want to transfer your US$5k for the bank account.
Some folks withdraw fifty $100 bills and stuff them in a duffel. If you are comfortable doing that, this is a perfectly legitimate way to transfer the money. Be aware that Paraguay has had some problems with counterfeit $100 bills, though. I don't recall exactly what the deal is, but there are certain letters that should not appear anywhere in the serial number. If anybody has more details on this, feel free to post!
Alternatively, you can transfer the funds via Western Union.
Below is a list of the steps that I had to complete with my fixer when I arrived in Asunción. There are far more documents involved than I have listed here, but my fixer took care of many of them for me.
Double-check every detail on your paperwork, especially your name, birthdate and passport number. Any discrepancy or error will prevent your application from being accepted, and then you'll need to start again!
Also note that every document must be notarized and copied. You will be carrying a small forest worth of paper by the time you are ready to submit the application to Dirección General de Migraciones.
Finally, make 100% absolutely definitely sure that you keep the ORIGINAL receipt for your US$5k deposit and that you submit the CERTIFIED COPY with your application. When you go to pick up your money after your residency app is approved, THEY WILL NOT GIVE YOU YOUR MONEY BACK UNLESS YOU SHOW UP WITH THE ORIGINAL DOCUMENT!!!!!
Once you've assembled all your documents, you are ready to submit your application. Take everything to the Dirección General de Migraciones office and have a seat.
During the application process, the government worker will enter all your info into the computer and scrutinize every single document that you have provided. If you have made any mistakes, or if there are any discrepancies on your paperwork, he will reject your application right away (at least you won't have to wait several months to find this out!).
You (or your fixer, depending on your arrangement) will then pay the residency fee and provide the receipt to the residency official. At this point, you will receive a tracking document that will allow you (and your fixer) to determine the status of your application.
And then you're done! It should take a few months for your application to be approved. Your fixer will receive your cédula and ID card, which you can go and pick up or just have mailed to you, depending on what you wish to arrange with your fixer.
I am not an attorney, tax professional nor financial advisor. Nothing contained in this post should be considered legal, financial, medical or any other kind of advice, for that matter. Always do your own research and due diligence before getting involved with foreign governments and offshore service providers.