Two foreigners are challenging the decision by local Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials to deny their application for permanent residency. Officials at the Zone 6 office, located in Azogues, based the denial on the fact that the applicants had not been in Ecuador for 21 continuous months.
According to Cuenca attorney Lina Ulloa, who represents the pair, the decision violates her clients’ constitutional rights. “Originally, the law approved in February 2017 allowed people applying for permanent residency to leave the country for 90 days during the first year of the 21 month application period and for 90 days during the second year,” she said. “There have been revisions to the law since 2017 but, in my opinion, the rule applied in Azogues is a violation of my clients’ constitutional right to mobility.”
Ulloa, working on the case with José Zamora of the Ulloa and Zamora Asesores law firm, believes that officials in the Azogues office of of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which represents Cuenca, are misinterpreting the law. “The revision of the law has caused confusion in Azogues because my clients were out of the country for as little as one day during the 21-month period. Because of this, they are being refused residency.”
Ulloa believes that the challenge by her clients will clarify terms of the Human Mobility Law. “Requiring them and other visa applicants to be in the country for 21 continuous months is not reasonable,” she says. “Under the original law, even if foreigners were in violation of the 90-day per year rule, they could pay a fine and continue the visa application process.”
She adds that the decision in Azogues was based on an interpretation of the immigration law based on “internal resolutions.”
Among other recent modifications to the immigration law is one changing the terms of the investor’s visa, which had previously allowed extra flexibility for movements in and out of Ecuador. In all, Ulloa says there are 13 categories for residency, with all requiring a period of temporary residency before permanent residency can be granted.
The first court hearing challenging the Azogues decision is Friday, November 5 in Cuenca.