President Rafael Correa signed Ecuador’s new immigration law during his weekly Enlace Ciudadano broadcast from Barcelona, Spain. Correa is in Europe visiting Ecuadorians living in Spain and Italy.
At the signing, Correa said that the country supported Ecuadorians, no matter where they live. “You are always welcome to return home but we are with you no matter where you chose to live,” he said. “The law supports the rights not just of Ecuadorians, but of all citizens of the world.”
The revision of the immigration law, the first in more than 40 years, covers 2,204,000 Ecuadorians who live abroad, 70,000 Ecuadorians who have recently returned to Ecuador from abroad, and 70,000 foreigners living in the country, including about 10,000 refugees.
The law, which expands services and protections for Ecuadorians living overseas, will go into effect after it is recorded in the national registry of laws, later this week.
Included in the law are provisions that make it easier for foreigners to visit and obtain visas in Ecuador. One of the biggest changes is an extension of time visitors are allowed to stay in Ecuador. The new law allows a 180 days stay based on passport entry, including a 90-day extension.
The new law offers eight types of visas for foreigners, including temporary and permanent residency, humanitarian, tourist, temporary resident, diplomatic, emergency service, and special tourist. The new temporary residency visa is good for two years and can be renewed once.
Among new services the law provides Ecuadorians living abroad are financial assistance with education and the right to join the country’s social security program.
The new law maintains Ecuador’s policy of not requiring special entry visas from foreign travelers with the exception of those from Cuba, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, and Senegal.
The new law has been praised by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), who has calls it an example for world.