Beginning in 2022, Ecuador will offer a new visa option for foreigners who work online. Called the “internet nomad visa” or simply the “nomad visa,” it will allow those who qualify and their families to live and work in Ecuador for up to two years.
Tourism Minister Niels Olsen is working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on final visa details which, he says, will be announced in January.
“This is not a new idea since it is already offered in 19 countries, mostly in Europe, but it will be the first in South America,” he says. “The idea is to make it easier for online professionals to live and work in Ecuador, which will boost our tourism industry as well as the economy generally. In the U.S. alone, there are an estimated nine million online workers and because of the portability of their projects, they can live anywhere in the world.”
According to Olsen, current visa rules discourage online workers from coming to Ecuador. “They can only stay for six months and, if they want to stay longer, they have to work through a lot of red tape. The new visa will make the process easier for them and their families to stay longer.”
The visa is part of Olsen’s goal of attracting two million tourists a year to Ecuador by 2025. “Like other countries, our tourism industry has suffered tremendous loses from the pandemic and we are looking at creative ways to attract more foreigners. “If this program can attract just one percent of the online professionals in the U.S. and Canada, it would bring 90,000 to the country,” he says. “Many in this group are young people raising families and they are open to living in other countries that make it easy for them to move in and out.”
Olsen’s says his main target initially will be North America. “Once the details are final we will begin a marketing campaign aimed primarily at the U.S. and Canada,” he says. “If the results are good, we will expand the campaign to Europe, specifically Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Spain.”
Targeting the U.S. makes sense, according to Olsen, since it produces more tourists annually – about 400,000 — than any country outside of South America. “This group generates about $180 monthly in annual revenue for Ecuadorian businesses and as the pandemic subsides we see the potential for much more.”
He adds: “Our message to these professionals will be simple. You are welcome in Ecuador and we will make it easy for you to come.”