After months of discussion, rumors and debate, the Human Mobility Act (Ley de Movilidad Humana) was signed into law on January 28, 2017 by President Correa while in Barcelona, Spain. On February 6, 2017 it was published in the Registro Oficial (Official Registry).
There are details such as fees and other aspects that will be precised in the Ruling (Reglamento) which according to the law should be issued within the next 120 days.
Objective of Ecuador’s New Ley de Movilidad Humana
The new law regularizes the situation of people on the move – including refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons and victims of trafficking.
UNHCR (The UN Refugee Agency) welcomed Ecuador’s new Human Mobility Law. Ecuador is host to over 60,000 refugees, 95 per cent of whom are Colombians. This is the largest refugee population in Latin America. ~ UNHCR
The new law also establishes rights and obligations for Ecuadorian nationals abroad as well as returning nationals and foreign residents.
The following details were provided by Nelson and Grace, immigration lawyers in Cuenca, Ecuador.
Details of the New Ley de Movilidad Humana (Human Mobility Act)
New Migration Rules
On January 5, 2017 the National Assembly approved the Human Mobility Act (LEY DE MOVILIDAD HUMANA) and the President of the Republic recently signed this into law;
New Categories for Expats Moving to Ecuador
In regard to Immigration: for foreigners interested in visiting or settling in Ecuador the following categories are established:
TRANSIENTS: Visitors who are passing through.
TOURISTS: Tourists will be given a period up to 90 days in the country; extendable only once in the period of 1 year. In addition, as an exception, they could request a special visa that would extend their stay for up to 1 year, only once in the period of 5 years. This visa is exclusively for tourism and does not authorize the holder to work. Also, it is required to have public or private insurance to be able to enter Ecuador.
More reading: 7 Travel Insurance Options for Expats
RESIDENCY: One of the principal differences of the current law and the new law is the inability to apply directly for Permanent Residency and the new law establishes two types of residency visas:
TEMPORARY RESIDENCY: This authorizes a 2 year stay that can be renewed once. The following is a list of temporary visas available:
- Legal Income generated from investments in countries other than Ecuador
- Scientist, Investigator, Academic
- Athlete, Artist or Cultural Manager
- Religious or Religious Volunteer
- Student of basic, secondary, undergraduate or graduate education and professional internships or professionals
- Technical Professional, Technologist or Artisan
- Resident by Agreement I
- Dependents of person holding a Migratory Category Visa
Once the temporary residency is obtained, you can enroll in the social security system or other private health insurance.
Temporary residents can be out of the country for a maximum of 90 days each year.
PERMANENT RESIDENCY: This authorizes an indefinite stay in Ecuador; the primary requirement is to reside in the country with a Temporary Visa a minimum of 21 months; once the permanent residency is obtained you can enroll in the social security system or private health insurance.
Permanent residents can be out of the country for a period of no more than 180 days in each year during the first 2 years; after these first 2 years they can be absent up to 5 years.
NATURALIZATION: In general, the rules for naturalization have not varied much and the requirements are the same. An important change is the elimination of the rule currently in force which states that to be eligible to apply for naturalization, the foreign resident cannot be out of the country more than 90 days total in the first 3 years of residency. Said restriction has limited the acquisition of Ecuadorian citizenship for many actual residents that have lived more than 3 years in the country.
However, the new law does not reference the time out of the country and only maintains the requirement to be a resident a minimum of 3 years to be able to request naturalization. For foreigners married or in a common law marriage to Ecuadorians, this amount is reduced to 2 years.
COSTS: This law does not determine the amounts of the government application fee for Tourist Visas, Residency or Naturalization. The amounts not yet elaborated will be determined in the respective Law Regulation and Resolutions from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
We hope the above clarifies any doubts many of our readers have regarding this subject. If you have further concerns, feel free to contact us directly.
Dr. Grace Velastegui
Dr. Nelson Idrovo
Idrovo & Velastegui
Attorneys at Law
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