Many questions have arisen in recent days regarding the new migration law titled the Human Mobility Act in Ecuador. This act will replace the current Immigration and Naturalization Law, and seeks to reduce the categories and simplify the migratory processes in Ecuador.
The new migration law recognises two different types of temporary visitors:
Passer-by’s: those who are in Ecuador in-transit to another destination
Tourist visas: Every person who comes to Ecuador soley for touristic purposes are prohibited to perform any work-related activities.
The initial validity of a tourist visa is 90 days, with the option to obtain an additional 90 day extension. If tourist wishes to stay for longer period of time, they may request a special tourist visa extension for further 180 days. However this type of visa extention may be obtained only once every five years.
Travel Restrictions: furthermore, every tourist must show proof of valid foreign health insurance for their entire entended length of stay in Ecuador.
There are two types of residency visas:
Temporary resident visa: foreigners who want to stay longer than the tourist visa outlined above will be required to obtain a temporary residency visa.
A temporary residency visa authorizes a person to stay for two years in the country and can be renewed only once. The visa permits an unlimited number of re-entries during the said period.
The categories of non-immigrant and immigrant visas under the previous law are now merged, including the previous work, pensioner, retired, investor, scientist, sportsman, religious, volunteer, student, professional, and by convention, dependant and international protection visas.
This visa required an apostilled criminal background report, proof economic resources, and a legal justification for each of the aforementioned visa categories.
Travel restrictions: temporary residence visa holders are prohibited from spending more than 90 days (each year) outside of the country from the date the visa was granted.
Health insurance requirements: the applicant for a temporary resident visa must show proof of third party health insurance or be affiliated with social security system of Ecuador.
Permanent residence visa: authorize foreign citizens to stay in Ecuador for an indefinite period of time. A temporary resident will be eligible to apply for this visa if they:
Have stayed in the country for at least 21 months;
Are married to an Ecuadorian citizen;
Are the minors or a disabled person dependant on a person who is currently permanent resident of Ecuador; or
Who are related to an Ecuadorian citizen or permanent resident of Ecuador
The requirements to obtain a permanent resident visa are:
A valid Ecuadorian criminal report for existing temporary residents of Ecuador; or
A valid foreign criminal background report for all other applications for this type of visa; and
Proof of economic means to subside in Ecuador.
Travel Restrictions: A person with a permanent residence visa cannot be out of the country more than 180 days each year from the date the visa was granted for the first two years. Following the first two years they may leave the country for up to five years. The penalty for staying more than 180 days during the first two years is outlined as four basic salaries; in 2017 nominal terms, this is the equivalent of $1,500.
Health insurance requirements: the applicant for a permanent resident visa must show proof of third party health insurance or be affiliated with social security system of Ecuador.
Furthermore, foreigners who have legally resided in Ecuador for at least five years shall have the right to vote and may also be elected to public office, as a right to political participation.
In conclusion, the changes to the Human Mobility Act may significantly impact tourists and potential residents of Ecuador.