On August 3rd, President Lenin Moreno signed presidential decree No. 111 which includes the Regulation of the Human Mobility Act (Ley Orgánica de Movilidad Humana). The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ecuador will exercise the stewardship of visas and human mobility, while the stewardship of migratory controls is under the Ministry of the Interior of Ecuador.
The Regulation of the Human Mobility Act is made up of 3 books.
Book No. 1 People in Human Mobility
Book No. 2 Travel documents
Book No. 3 Migratory controls
In total this codification of the law is composed of 146 articles, 5 general provisions and 9 transitory provisions, which all together will regulate the application of the Human Mobility Act (Ley Orgánica de Movilidad Humana (LOMH)), published on Official register on February 6th, 2017.
Among the most important provisions of the Human Mobility Act we find in this regulation the following:
TYPES OF MIGRATORY CATEGORIES AND CONDITIONS
In Article 18 of the Human Mobility Act (RLOMH, for its initials in Spanish) it is established that there are migratory conditions and categories.
There are only two general migratory statuses in Ecuador, and under these two general statuses there are additional subcategories as listed below:
To check the types of residency visas in Ecuador check this link
REGULARIZATION OF FOREIGNERS WHO HAVE LOST THEIR MIGRATORY STATUS
The regulation establishes the foreigner’s responsibility to regularize their migratory status in Ecuador, per article 15 of the Regulation of the Human Mobility Act, which indicates that in the event that a foreigner has lost their migratory status due to termination (at the end of the validity of their visa) or due to cancellation (when by an administrative resolution the foreigner has been declared as no longer complying with the facts that motivated the issuance of the visa, has changed their migratory status, or if the foreigner is carrying out activities not authorized under their migratory status). Article 68 of the Human Mobility Act details this concepts precisely.
Foreigners in the situation described above will have 30 days to file a new application to regularize their migratory status and their length of staying in Ecuador.
CEDULA (ID CARD) FOR FOREIGNERS:
Article 44 of the Human Mobility Act makes it clear that once a foreigner obtains migratory status as a resident, they may be granted an Ecuadorian cédula. This is ratified by Article 17 of the Human Mobility Act, which clarifies that cédulas for people with temporary residence visas will be emitted only with a period of validity equal to the time of the visa. For people who already have temporary residence visas and do not yet have cédulas, they should present proof that they have complete health insurance before the agency that emitted their visa. This agency will then provide a cédula order that can be presented to the Civil Registry to obtain a cédula.
It is important to mention that having an Ecuadorian cédula facilitates many processes for example; obtaining public services like electricity, telephone and internet form the national corporation of communications (CNT), opening a saving accounts at a bank and completing simple transaction like withdrawals and cashing checks, and the process of obtaining a driver´s license, made much simpler because you can choose to obtain a new driver´s license without having to bring your driving records and license form your country of origin. In addition, for people over 65 years of age, having a cédula permits them take advantage of the benefits for seniors.
Note: Cédulas for foreigners are only issued in Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca.
Article 30 of the Regulation of the Human Mobility Act states the following “In order to maintain temporary or permanent residence in Ecuador, all foreigners must have public or private health insurance, valid for the length of time the foreigner is authorized to stay in Ecuador. This insurance should be shown to the Human Mobility authority within 30 days of the issuance of the visa. Once the foreigner complies with this requirement, the Immigration authority will grant a cédula order, allowing the foreigner to obtain a cédula before the civil register.”
The question of public health Insurance (IESS) is complicated because according to a resolution from IESS, people who do not have a cedula can´t be registered with IESS, and without a justification of having insurance you can´t get a cédula, which creates a vicious cycle that it seems the legislation hasn’t taken in consideration. In any case, having a cédula facilitates many aspects of day to day life in Ecuador
Note, the only exception to be able to sign up with IESS without a cédula is if a foreigner is working under an employee/employer relationship, in which case the foreign worker will be assigned a special code. In the case of a retired foreigner, on the basis of their migratory status, they are not allowed to have an employee/employer relationship as worker in Ecuador.
TEMPORARY RESIDENCY VISA
To apply for any of the categories of the temporary residence visa according to the article 61 of the Human Mobility Act, the general requirements are as follows:
1.- Valid Passport with a validity of no less than six months
2.- Criminal background check - according to rule number 1 of article 29 of the regulation of the Human Mobility Act, the background check will be valid for only 180 days from the date of issuance until the date of last registered entry of the foreigner to the country.
3.- Having the economic resources to stay in Ecuador for themselves and their family, if applicable.
Work Visa: Labor contract duly registered before the Ministry of Labor of Ecuador, a certificate of not having debts before Social Security (IESS), Internal Revenue Service (SRI) and superintendence of Companies, respectively, obtained from the employer.
Independent means visa: All documents that justify a legal source of income, such as certificate of investments, leasing contracts and other similar documents.
Pensioner Visa: The official document issued by the social security administration with benefits included, from the country of origin of the foreigner.
Investor visa: For certificate of deposit, shares in a company or investment in sole proprietorship with a minimum investment of 70 minimum wages.
Note. For the year 2017 the Minimum Wage is $375, historically the minimum wage increases between 8% to 10% each year.
Student Visa: A certificate of tuition or certificate of admission to the program from an education center duly registered and authorized to operate by the Ecuadorian government. The visa will be valid for the length of time of the program of study.
Professional Visa: The professional diploma must be filed along with the visa application, and upon obtaining the visa the foreigner will have 3 months to register their professional title. Once the title is registered the foreigner will have 2 days to notify the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility so that they can obtain a cédula order.
Dependent Visa: Any document that establishes the relation between the applicant and a person who will support them, either Ecuadorian or foreign, with documents such as a birth certificate, marriage certificate, etc.
Note: All documents should be duly apostilled/certified and translated to Spanish.
PERMANENT RESIDENCY VISA
To request a permanent residency visa, based on the provisions of article 63 of the Human Mobility Act, the foreigner must qualify under any of these conditions:
1.- Has been a temporary resident for at least 21 months; or,
2.- Is married to or in a civil union with an Ecuadorian citizen. In this case a marriage certificate should be presented. If the marriage or civil union was celebrated abroad, it must be registered in the Civil Registry of Ecuador; or,
3.- Being a minor under-age or with a disability that depends on an Ecuadorian citizen or a foreigner with a permanent residency visa. In order to justify the dependency relationship, there should be a birth certificate of the dependent foreigner, and in the case of a foreigner with a disability, a document certifying the disability should be presented in addition to the birth certificate; or,
4.- Relatives within a second degree of blood relation or affinity, should present documents that justify the relationship to the Ecuadorian citizen or foreigner with a permanent residency visa.
Note: All documents should be duly apostilled/certified and translated to Spanish.
When a person enters Ecuador as a tourist they can stay in the country for a maximum length of 90 days, counted from the date of first entry to Ecuador within a period of one year. This stay can be extended for an additional 90 days, following the payment of a fee and the filing of an application before the migratory control authority, which for the purpose of this law is the Ministry of the Interior of Ecuador (articles 56 and 132, under the regulation of the Organic Law of Human Mobility); the fee for the extension of stay for 90 days will be one-third of the Ecuadorian minimum wage salary. To enter Ecuador, the foreigner must have health insurance valid for the length of stay in Ecuador, which will be requested by the migratory control authority.
For tourists originating from UNASUR member states (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guyana, Paraguay, Perú, Suriname, Uruguay y Venezuela) there is a maximum stay of 180 days in the period of one year, counted from the first date of entry of the foreigner to Ecuador.
Nationals of countries requiring a visa to enter Ecuador (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Senegal and Cuba) must obtain a consular visa, for which they should present:
1.- A valid passport
2.- Criminal background check from the country or countries where they have resided in the last 5 years
3.- Proof of economic resources
SPECIAL TOURISM VISA (180 days)
This visa is for foreign citizens who are in Ecuadorian territory and want to extend their stay as a tourist, which can be done for 180 days additional to the time they have stayed in Ecuador. This visa should be presented 30 days before the expiration of the extension of the tourist visa. This visa can be granted to a foreigner only once every five years.
CHANGE, TRANSFER OR RENEWAL OF VISAS
CHANGE: The process by which a foreigner requests to modify their migratory status to a different status.
TRANSFER: The process by which a foreigner requests the transfer of their valid visa to a new passport.
RENEWAL: The process by which a foreigner requests the extension of the validity of the same visa.
Requirements to change, transfer and renew a visa are as follows:
1.- Valid passport;
2.- Valid health insurance;
3.- Migratory movement
4.- Document providing proof of the visa for which it applies.
The duration of the procedure to change migratory category is 90 days counted from the application date. The Ministry of Foreign relations can notify the foreigner to indicate missing documentation, and the foreigner will have 10 days to comply with their request.
The Ministry of the Interior of Ecuador is the entity in charge of carrying out migratory control on the national level, as well as imposing and ordering the payment of fines for migratory offenses to the Organic Law of Human Mobility, committed be foreigners.
ENTRY TO ECUADOR BY FOREIGNERS
In order to enter the country a foreigner should have:
1.- A valid passport with a minimum validity of six months before its expiration.
2.- Valid visa, except tourists from countries that do not require a visa to enter Ecuador.
3.- Public or private health insurance, valid for their length of stay in Ecuador.
In the event that a foreigner has not regularized their legal stay in Ecuador, the authority will issue a written notice to the foreigner requesting they leave Ecuador voluntarily within a period of no more than 30 days and following the payment of 2 months’ salary at minimum wage to the migratory control authority. In the case of non-compliance, a deportation procedure will be initiated of the foreign person.
FINES AND SANCTIONS
Foreigners who have entered the country with a permit to stay for 90 days and have not left the country nor requested an extension, can not enter the country for a period of two years, counted from their date of departure or unless they pay a fine of two months’ salary at minimum wage.
Foreigners who entered with a permit to stay and who requested an extension but stayed more than 180 days, can not enter the country for a period of two years, or in the case they want to return sooner they must pay a fine of two months’ salary at minimum wage
Foreigners with a permit to stay for 90 days, and who left respecting this timeline, can not enter Ecuador for a period of 9 months unless they enter with a consular visa.
Foreigners who have lawfully stayed in the country for 180 days can not return to Ecuador for a period of 6 months unless they enter with a consular visa.
For foreigners with a temporary residency visa, there is a fine equivalent to 3 months’ salary at minimum wage, when the person is absent for more than 90 cumulative days for each year within the validity of their resident visa. The payment will be made prior to entry to Ecuador at authorized collection points.
For foreigners with a permanent residency visa, there is a fine equivalent to 4 months’ salary at minimum wage, when the person is absent for more than 180 cumulative days for each year within the validity of their resident visa. The payment will be made prior to entry to Ecuador at authorized collection points. In the event of reoccurrence within the same one-year period, the foreigner will lose their permanent residency visa.
Note: It is advisable that if a person decides they will stay longer than the legally permitted time, to cancel their visa, because in the future if they want to return, even as a tourist, they will have to pay the associated fine before entering the country.
VERY IMPORTANT TO NOTE
The Regulation of the Organic Law of Human Mobility has nine transitional provisions that have a direct impact on foreigners and are important to take into account when planning travel, and they are the following:
PROVISION FOUR: The requirement of having health insurance for foreigners entering Ecuador will be enforceable within 180 days of the publication of this regulation in the official registry.
PROVISION FIVE: Foreigners with permanent residency visas have 90 days to present proof of health insurance to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
PROVISION SIX: The Ministry of the Interior has 90 days to publish the regulations related to the collection of fines for migratory offenses, but until the issuance of these regulations, no foreigner will be required to pay these fines.
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