Visa rule change eliminates in-country option to extend stays for tourists … for now, anyway

Sep 30, 2008 | 0 comments

Life just became a little more complicated for foreign tourists who want to remain in Ecuador beyond the 90 days granted by their passport entry stamp. A memo from the country’s ministry of foreign relations to local immigration offices on Monday, Sept. 22, eliminates the in-country 90-day extension that had been routinely granted tourists in recent months.

According to immigration experts in Quito and Cuenca, the new order is subject to change. “This rule, like all the others, could change again tomorrow, so stay tuned," said a Cuenca visa attorney who asked not to be identified. “This is big inconvenience for foreigners who are already in the country and who don’t want to leave and come back again to get the extension, especially for people who have received the extension in the past and expected to receive it again.” he said. “For people who are not here yet, it should not be a problem as long as they are aware of rule.”

The new rule means that tourists who want to remain in Ecuador for more than the 90 days granted automatically by the passport entry stamp (officially, the T-3 stamp), must leave and then return to receive an extension. There has been no change to the 180 days per year that non-residents are allowed to stay in the country.

The Cuenca attorney says that the discontinuation of the in-country extension probably has political motivations. In June, the Ecuadorian government eliminated requirements for all paper visas, announcing that visitors from all countries would receive the T-3 90-day stamp. That decision, according the attorney, was a reaction to the treatment of Ecuadorians traveling in European Union countries and North America, which require entry visas and a long application process. In early June, the European Union parliament passed legislation placing new travel restrictions on citizens of South American Andean nations, including Ecuador.


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