For the first time in 40 years Ecuador will soon have new immigration law and it’s mostly good news for foreign visitors and residents.
The legislation, passed last week by the National Asembly, covers 2,204,000 Ecuadorians who live abroad, 70,000 Ecuadorians who have recently returned to Ecuador from abroad, and 70,000 foreigners, including about 10,000 refugees.
The law goes into effect after it is signed, as expected, by President Rafael Correa and is recorded in the national registry of laws.
One of the biggest changes in the new legislation is an extension of time visitors are allowed to stay in Ecuador. The new law allows 180 days, replacing the previous limit of 90 days.
“This is great news for many North Americans and Europeans who want to spend more time here,” says Graciela Iglesias, a Quito visa attorney. “I have many clients who want to spend half the year in Quito or Cuenca and until now they have had to apply for the tourist visa to do it,” she says. “Now they will be able to stay on their airport entry stamp.”
The new law offers a tourist visit for a period of one year but limits its use to once every five years.
“Overall, the law will make Ecuador more attractive than ever for tourists and those who want to become residents,” says Iglesias.
Another change affecting foreign residents allows for travel between Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) using only a cedula. Currently they are required to present a passport as well as a cedula. Ecuador will establish preferential migratory control points at airports and border crossings for UNASUR citizen and residents.
The new law offers eight types of visas, including 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.
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 adds several requirements for non-residency visa holders, including one that they provide proof of health care insurance.
The most significant changes in the new law are intended to expand services and protections for Ecuadorians living overseas. Among the services are provisions to help with education costs and allow them to join the country’s social security program.