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New immigration law expands rights of foreigners and Ecuadorians living abroad, extends visitors’ stay from 90 to 180 days

For the first time in 40 years Ecuador will soon have new immigration law and it’s mostly good news for foreign visitors and residents.

New law makes Ecuador “more attractive than ever.”

The legislation, passed last week by the National Asembly, covers 2,204,000 Ecuadorians who live abroad, 70,000 Ecuadorians who have recently returned to Ecuador from abroad, and 70,000 foreigners, including about 10,000 refugees.

The law goes into effect after it is signed, as expected, by President Rafael Correa and is recorded in the national registry of laws.

One of the biggest changes in the new legislation is an extension of time visitors are allowed to stay in Ecuador. The new law allows 180 days, replacing the previous limit of 90 days.

“This is great news for many North Americans and Europeans who want to spend more time here,” says Graciela Iglesias, a Quito visa attorney. “I have many clients who want to spend half the year in Quito or Cuenca and until now they have had to apply for the tourist visa to do it,” she says. “Now they will be able to stay on their airport entry stamp.”

The new law offers a tourist visit for a period of one year but limits its use to once every five years.

“Overall, the law will make Ecuador more attractive than ever for tourists and those who want to become residents,” says Iglesias.

Another change affecting foreign residents allows for travel between Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) using only a cedula. Currently they are required to present a passport as well as a cedula. Ecuador will establish preferential migratory control points at airports and border crossings for UNASUR citizen and residents.

The new law offers eight types of visas, including permanent residency, humanitarian, tourist, temporary resident, diplomatic, emergency service, and special tourist. The new temporary residency visa is good for two years and can be renewed once.

The new law maintains Ecuador’s policy of not requiring special entry visas from foreign travelers with the exception of those from Cuba, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, and Senegal.

The new law adds several requirements for non-residency visa holders, including one that they provide proof of health care insurance.

The most significant changes in the new law are intended to expand services and protections for Ecuadorians living overseas. Among the services are provisions to help with education costs and allow them to join the country’s social security program.

  • M. Shahbaz Khan

    Any news on the 18 month cumulative absence over 5 years that invalidates a residency visa? Is it still in?

    • Jane

      Not true, never was.

      • M. Shahbaz Khan

        I wish it were not true but I have read it in at least two documents detailing the original law. However, the page of EC Embassy in Washington DC and the FAQ page of the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores do not mention the cumulative clause, just the consecutive one. Maybe that clause has since been rescinded … will have to check with a lawyer in EC

        • miguel ortiz

          It was rescinded November 7, 1990. I wonder why anybody would ever mention it. Unless you want to show you are not up in the events.

  • Bobette

    When do these new statutes take effect and where can we expats research the details?

  • Richard

    I have a question. Under the current law a Tourist Visa is good for 90. Once you have used up the 90 days, you must wait 12 months to re-enter on a new Tourist Visa. Under the new law if you stay for 180 days, do you then have to wait another 12 months to re-enter?

    • MrBill

      It has always been 12 months from when you entered, not when you left. So if you arrive on Jan 1 and stay 3 months then you can come back on Jan 1 of the next year, which is 9 months later. The same should apply now only it will be 6 months later.

    • BEVERLY VAZQUEZ

      Dear Richard:

      You are correct, everything remains the same as before, meaning that the requirements are kept the same, the only thing that changes is the length of the period from 90 to 180 days.

      Please feel free to schedule an appointment for a free consultation at your earliest convenience!

      Beverly Vazquez
      yourvisainecuador@gmail.com
      Pumapungo Building:
      Luis Cordero 7-23 & Presidente Córdova,
      Upper First Floor, Office B-9.

      • KeithB

        No, Beverly, everything is not not the same as before. The new law adds more reasons that expats can be expelled from the country and replaces the old non-resident visas with new ones. As with any new law, the rules will be rewritten and there could be quite a few changes. They are using the old rules until the new ones are ready.

        • dan p

          The naturalization process was made harder for those married to an Ecuadorian citizen as well. Knowledge of history and constitution will be required. Citizenship can be easily cancelled by administrative procedure if subject found a security risk to the country. I’m wondering if text of the law as approved can be found online?

      • Paul Smith

        So Beverly can I assume then that a 90 day tourist visa obtained Nov 1, 2016 is now AUTOMATICALLY valid for 180 days with no need for a new stamp? Thanks.

        • BEVERLY VAZQUEZ

          I have replied your e-mail Paul.
          Please write back with any concern.

          The leaving periods for a residency visa are as follows:
          1st year-90 days
          2nd year-90 days
          3rd year-a Total of 18 months durin a 5 year period.

          And if during the first 2 years you did not use up the 90 days, than you loose them, they are not accumulative.

          Beverly Vazquez
          yourvisainecuador@gmail.com
          Pumapungo Building:
          Luis Cordero 7-23 & Presidente Córdova,
          Upper First Floor, Office B-9.

    • Richard

      Bill,

      You’re mistaken. The 12 months begin after you have used up the 90 days (now 180 days). Not from the day you enter Ecuador. Under your assumption, it would only take 9 months before you could return

      • Jean-Marie Berthelot

        Hi, We were able to use a T-3, 12 months after our first entry Ecuador on our first T-3. It allows for multiple entries and exits, as long as you do not stay more than 90 days (now 180) in the 12 months following your first entry on a specific T-3.

  • laura bodine

    for all your questions contact beverly@yourvisainecuador.com She is up to date on all the new provisions.

    • BEVERLY VAZQUEZ

      Thank you my dear for trusting us!

      • Ron

        Is the Professional Visa will stay and will it be with the same conditions? Beverly, do you help for this type of visa too ?

        • BEVERLY VAZQUEZ

          Dear Ron:

          I do, and the law has not kicked in fully, meaning that it was aproved, but it hasn´t been signed by the President yet, and yes, we do work with profesional visas as well, please feel to contact us to schedule a free consultation at your earliest convenience.

          Beverly Vazquez
          yourvisainecuador@gmail.com
          Pumapungo Building:
          Luis Cordero 7-23 & Presidente Córdova,
          Upper First Floor, Office B-9.

  • kate bean

    so do i have to purchase temporary health policy when i fly into Ecuador?

    • Brad Varey

      No, not on a 3 month (now 6 month) visitor stamp. But there are other Visa (non resident) now available that go for longer periods of time, but you will have to prove health insurance and maybe other things if you want one of those special non resident long term visas. But just for the regular stamp it is the same as it was, just twice as long.

  • Clair

    Will someone without health care insurance be turned around at the airport?

  • Jane

    Something tells me that Ecuador is about to get into the “Travel Insurance” business and start charging for what they were giving away for free.

    • edgeof 2

      good idea…

  • Oscar

    Has there been any change in the amount of days a “Permanent Resident” can be out of Ecuador for the first two years ?

  • Malcolm Reding

    I expect the new wrinkles will
    NOT be retroactive. Those that are here on 90 day visas & want to stay longer will still have to get a 12-IX 6 month visa.

  • BEVERLY VAZQUEZ

    Dear Phil:
    The law is effective starting January 5th, 2017.

    Please feel free to schedule an appointment for a free consultation at your earliest convenience!

    Beverly Vazquez
    yourvisainecuador@gmail.com
    Pumapungo Building:
    Luis Cordero 7-23 and Presidente Córdova,
    Upper First Floor, Office B-9.

  • BEVERLY VAZQUEZ

    Dear Pixelvt:

    Yes, the 180 days is effective for 1 calendar year, and the law was aproved staring January the 5th, meaning that since that date, all expats can benefit from it.

    Please feel free to schedule an appointment for a free consultation at your earliest convenience!

    Beverly Vazquez
    yourvisainecuador@gmail.com
    Pumapungo Building:
    Luis Cordero 7-23 and Presidente Córdova,
    Upper First Floor, Office B-9.

    • Jane

      After you’ve been a resident for two years you can leave the country for up to 18 months at a time, return for one day, and leave again for another 18 months etc. ad nauseum without losing your residency visa.

      • Jean-Marie Berthelot

        Hi! We were told by immigration officers that the 18 months is for a 5-year period and it is a moving window. For example, 18 months for 2017-2021; 18 months for 2018-2022, etc. So you cannot leave for 18 months, come back 1 day and leave the county without losing your permanent residency. Since September all entries and exits are recorded electonically and this aspect of the visa will now be controlled. That’s what we were told.

        • M. Shahbaz Khan

          Thank for this information even though it doesn’t make me happy. I wish someone can petition the powers that be to be more flexible after the first two years have been completed.

          Disregarding the “moving window” rule for a moment, as I haven’t heard it before, the law as it is written practically extends the 3 month per year rule to on average 3.6 months per year rule. And if you stayed away for more then 3.6 months in a year you are limited to 3 or even less than 3 months per year for the rest of the five year period. Case in point: In a few weeks I will return to Ecuador after a 6 month absence. That will limit my future absences from the country back to 3 months a year on average for the next 4 years. Consequently, it would be wise for me to ditch the resident visa and solely rely on the tourist visa.

          Of course the “moving window” concept provides some relief from the above negative scenario. According to the 5-year “moving window” rule my 6 months in say 2016 will be ignored as soon as the year ends and the counting will restart in 2017. True? If so then, I could stay away for the whole of 2017 and come back in 2018 without losing my resident visa. Right? That being the case, staying away for 18 months in a row and coming back for 1 day and then leaving would be possible because you can never stay away for 18 months in a year!

          Of course, I will come and visit you when I am back in Cuenca and these will be my questions.

          • Jean-Marie Berthelot

            Hi Shabaz, the 3.6 months you mentioned is the average using the moving window. I don’t think the moving window gives you any relief.

          • M. Shahbaz Khan

            Now I am really confused; a moving window indicates that counting will start anew every year. Right? If that is the case then the only way you would lose your residency would be if you did not return for 18 consecutive months within a two year period otherwise what does it mean to have a “moving window”? …. I guess this needs to be clarified further

          • BEVERLY VAZQUEZ

            Dear Shabaz:
            The leaving periods for a residency visa are as follows:
            1st year-90 days
            2nd year-90 days
            3rd year-a Total of 18 months durin a 5 year period.

            And if during the first 2 years you did not use up the 90 days, than you loose them, they are not accumulative.

            Beverly Vazquez
            yourvisainecuador@gmail.com
            Pumapungo Building:
            Luis Cordero 7-23 & Presidente Córdova,
            Upper First Floor, Office B-9.

          • M. Shahbaz Khan

            Thank you Beverly.

        • BEVERLY VAZQUEZ

          Thank you for your reply Jean-Marie, your are correct!

      • BEVERLY VAZQUEZ

        Dear Jane:
        Starting your 3rd year, you are allowed to leave the country for a total of 18 months, and those 18 months will add app and last the length of your residency visa (5 year period).

        Beverly Vazquez
        yourvisainecuador@gmail.com
        Pumapungo Building:
        Luis Cordero 7-23 & Presidente Córdova,
        Upper First Floor, Office B-9.

  • jeff long

    Great news have been spending part of the winter in Cuenca for the past five years..Smart move to the only thing my wife and I leave in Ecuador are foot prints and money. We eat out 12 times a week good for the economy.

  • Agucho Moncayo

    Can we bring our car too?

    • lorenzo

      Bringing a car is allowable under the new rules. However, you need a separate visa just for your car. If the car is in Ecuador for more than 358 days per year, the visa gets revoked. So, driving to Machu Pikchu is a great way to renew your car’s visa.

  • BEVERLY VAZQUEZ

    Dear Paul:

    I have replied your e-mail with the information, please feel free to contact us for durther assistance!

    Beverly Vazquez
    yourvisainecuador@gmail.com
    Pumapungo Building:
    Luis Cordero 7-23 & Presidente Córdova,
    Upper First Floor, Office B-9.

  • BEVERLY VAZQUEZ

    Dear Robyn:

    I have replied your e-mail.

    The leaving periods for a residency visa are as follows:
    1st year-90 days
    2nd year-90 days
    3rd year-a Total of 18 months durin a 5 year period.

    And if during the first 2 years you did not use up the 90 days, than you loose them, they are not accumulative.

    Beverly Vazquez
    yourvisainecuador@gmail.com
    Pumapungo Building:
    Luis Cordero 7-23 & Presidente Córdova,
    Upper First Floor, Office B-9.

  • LINA ULLOA

    With our experience for over 10 years in Immigration process and always, we are offering free consulations to see how the new changes will affect your process or your satus. Feel free to contact our office at uz.asesoresecuador@gmail.com or 4103588

  • Michael

    Requires healthcare insurance? Immediately? American or International ($70.00 a month)? Veteran’s or Medicare? This stipulation might be monumental for someone stepping off a plane.

  • Chloe Kemp

    when will this new law be effective? I am arriving in Ecuador at the end of May

  • Ruth Ann Eaton Morris

    Can a person with a 12-VII visa for 7 years get a residency visa and go to the level of staying in country at least 185 days? We have been volunteers in Ecuador for 6 years and plan to stay at least on more in that role. Then we would like to retire and stay for another couple of years but don’t want to be restricted to the 90 days maximum out of country.

  • Noralma San Andrés Zissiadis

    This happened June 7, 2017–My dad an Ecuadorian who is a USA citizen got charge 800$ for an extra ticket since his stay in Ecuador exceeds the 90 day period, why was he charge since the law for visitors had change to 180 days. Where or how can I complaint in regards to the above.