• Regulations Regarding New Immigration Law Released
  • September 13, 2017
  • The Ecuadorian Immigration authorities have released regulations related to the new Immigration law that was published in February, which went into effect August 14, 2017.

    Noteworthy changes include:

    1. Regularization: The new law provides a window of 30 calendar days after expiration or cancellation of a visa for a foreign national to regularize his or her immigration status. Previously, foreign nationals had to leave the country immediately upon expiration or cancellation of their status.

    2. New Identification Card: Temporary Residence Visa holders must now obtain an Ecuadorian Identification Card. Previously, this was only required for Permanent Residents.

    3. Approval Deadline: Authorities now have up to 90 business days to analyze and approve visa applications.

    4. Health Insurance: All foreign nationals will now be required to have health insurance. More information on this requirement will be provided by immigration authorities in the future.

    5. Work Contract: Work Contract Visa holders must again register their employment contract with the Ministry of Labor prior to requesting their visa. This requirement was temporarily suspended but has been reinstated.

    6. Diploma: An apostilled or legalized diploma, depending on the country of issuance, is now required for foreign nationals requesting a Temporary Worker visa with a sponsorship letter (those without a local work contract). Previously, such workers could obtain a visa without providing evidence of their relevant education.

    7. Special Temporary Work Visa: A new visa category has been created for foreign nationals who transfer to Ecuador to work on projects of national interest. This visa offers stays up to two years and does not have any travel restrictions.

    8. Penalties: Temporary and Permanent Residence Visa holders who do not comply with rules regarding how long they can be out of the country are now subject to a fine, and administrative penalties will be imposed on Permanent Residence Visa holders. This is in addition to the travel restrictions that apply to permanent residents who remain abroad more than the allowable time.

    What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals

    Foreign nationals can benefit from more time to find a new sponsoring employer or file for a different type of visa after the expiration of their visa.

    Temporary residents can benefit from the ability to obtain a local credit card and open a local bank account since they are now also eligible for an identification card.

    The new standardized visa approval time may increase processing times for visa applications as in practice, visas were typically approved within 5 to 10 business days.

    The Work Contract Visa employment contract registration requirement adds a new administrative step for local sponsors since they must register with the Ministry of Labor and submit an SRI (document that proves that the company does not have pending tax obligations).

    Since an apostilled/legalized diploma is now required with a visa application, technical workers who qualify for a visa based on their experience alone may face issues with their visa approval.