The Ecuadorian government is stepping up efforts to enforce its visa rules, especially those concerning length of stay. In the first eight months of 2016, immigration authorities have deported 843 foreigners compared to 339 for all of 2015, the vast majority for them for not leaving the country on time.
According to Quito immigration attorney Lourdes Parra, the stronger enforcement is aimed primarily at foreigners using Ecuador as a transit point to immigrate illegally to the U.S. “Many more U.S. and Canadian citizens are being deported for overstays too but they aren’t the main target,” she says. “They are easier to find than Cubans and Venezuelans so, proportionally, more are being kicked out.”
The adds, “A few years ago enforcement was almost nonexistent for people who stayed too long and they were simply fined on their way out of the country. That was before the new problem with transients attempting to travel to the U.S.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which handles immigration affairs, does not keep records on the nationality of deportees but Parra says most of the English-speaking foreigners being deported are from the U.S. and Canada, and almost all of them are picked up in Quito and Cuenca. “More of the transients are in these cities, so this is where police are looking,” she says. “From the information I have, 21 citizens from the U.S. and Canada have been deported from Cuenca and 24 from Quito.
Most of those being deported entered Ecuador on the 90-day T3 visa, or on tourism and teaching visas.
Parra says that holders of residency visas are not affected by the crack-down.