At a Glance
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of the Interior of Ecuador proposed a law that would introduce the following key changes:
- Create a new Acts of Commerce Visa for foreign nationals seeking to conduct business and technical activities in Ecuador, among other activities, for up to 180 days;
- Eliminate travel restrictions for temporary residents in Ecuador;
- Create stricter eligibility rules and travel restrictions for permanent residents; and
- Replace the UNASUR Temporary Visa for Countries of South America with a visa that provides more access to South American non-UNASUR nationals.
The proposed law is in the preliminary stages of discussion and could take the National Assembly six months or more to approve.
A closer look
A proposed law pending with the Ecuadorian National Assembly would introduce the following changes to the current immigration law:
|IMMIGRATION CATEGORY||DESCRIPTION OF RULE/CHANGE||IMPACT|
|Business and short-term travelers||The reforms would create a new Acts of Commerce Visa for foreign nationals seeking to conduct business, acts of commerce, technical, sporting, academic, scientific and technological activities for up to 180 days within a one-year period.||The details and impact of this new visa remain uncertain until the new law is released. The visa will likely replace the Visa de Excepción de Corta Duración implemented in April 2019, while still regulating short term trips for business, commercial and technical activities.|
|Temporary Residents||The reforms would eliminate travel restrictions for temporary residents, who would no longer need to limit their stay outside Ecuador to 90 cumulative days per year to maintain their status.||More foreign nationals would be able to use a temporary resident visa to work in Ecuador while maintaining a residence and/or working abroad.|
|Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) Temporary Visa||Considering Ecuador's recent decision to opt out of the UNASUR agreement, the UNASUR Temporary Visa would be replaced with a Temporary Visa for Nationals of Countries of South America.||
- Controlled migration. The reforms reflect the current government's shift toward a more organized and controlled migration system in response to the high influx of Venezuelans and other foreign nationals in recent years.
- Streamlining effort. In light of the recently implemented regularization process for Venezuelans, the proposed changes, particularly the elimination of travel restrictions for temporary residents, are also intended to streamline some immigration processes to minimize the administrative impact on the government and attract foreign investment and talent into the country.
- Legal voids. Most of the other changes proposed (especially those relating to short-term business travelers and permanent residence applications) are intended to fill legal voids in the current immigration law.
Further changes and details are expected as the National Assembly reviews, drafts and publishes the new immigration legislation. Statements by the National Assembly president indicate that the review of this law will be prioritized, likely resulting in its approval taking six months, instead of the usual several years.
Although further details and slight changes are expected during the review and approval of the law, it is likely that the reforms will pass as proposed, since they are in line with the national effort to prioritize the security of the country while maintaining some historically open-door immigration policies for foreign investment.
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