The 2017 Immigration Law in Ecuador, Brief Notes

May 26, 2017

I recently attended a presentation by Attorney Santiago Andrade. I wanted to share some of the notes that I took so you have some idea of what is in the new law.  I have included some key points of the new Immigration Law in Ecuador for 2017.  The goal is to help you learn about the kind of visas can you apply for.This is not meant to be a full summary of the law and should not be considered as legal advice about visas.  Please check with an Immigration attorney to get the latest and most accurate information.

It has been 25 years since the Immigration Law has been changed in Ecuador. The Ecuadorian government recognized the need for change in the changing world. The new law is called the Human Mobility Organic Law. It was developed by the General Assembly and the president signed on February 6, 2017.

The law requires that all public institutions involved in the law must comply. All public institutions are reviewing the law to determine what they need to do in order to be in compliance. So, many of the details about how the law will be implemented is not yet clear.

Here are some of the Principles that are included in the formation of the Human Mobility Organic Law.

  • The 2008 new Ecuadorian constitution guarantees human and civil rights.
  • The new Immigration law says we all have the right to claim human rights according to the constitution.
  • The law embraces the concept of universal citizenship which recognizes the right of human beings to mobilize, the right to move around the planet.
  • The law supports free exercise of universal citizenship for self and the family.
  • The law states that everyone is equal before the law. There can be no discrimination. The fines for discrimination are strong.
  • The new law is more flexible about the timing of moving in and out of the country.

Some important points.

  • No person in Ecuador should be treated as a criminal if you don’t have the proper migratory status. You will not be put in jail, but you may receive administrative sanctions.
  • You can import household goods one time every 15 years.
  • You have the right to associate to create a business or social entity.
  • You have the right to validate your university diploma in Ecuador so it is recognized in Ecuaodor. The new law has a process that will take less time to have the degree recognized.

NOTE: You can read the new constitution of Ecuador at Georgetown University website:

Here are the obligations of immigrants to Ecuador according to the new law.

  1. You must register entry and exit to and from Ecuador
  2. For travel between Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru and Bolivia it not necessary to have a passport stamped, but be careful. You can travel with a cedula only for less than 30 days.
  3. As long as you are in Ecuador you must have the appropriate visa that fits your situation.
  4. The new law requires that you have health insurance if you are going to be in the country for 1 year or more. Approved health insurance coverage is through Social Security (IESS) or through a private insurance company. A self-funded insurance account is not acceptable.
  5. All immigrants are required to respect Ecuadorian law, culture and nature.
  6. You must carry your identity documents at all times. You can not carry only a copy of your ceduala.  If you have one, you must have your original cedula with you. If you loose your cedula you can go to the police and report it was stolen or lost and then go to the courthouse to legalize a new one. You have 30 days to do this.
  7. You must comply with taxation laws. If you have a business in Ecuador you must have a tax ID number.
  8. Legal residents doing business are obligated to obey labor laws, taxation laws, and social security rules.
  9. If you have a CD in Ecuador that earns interest of more than $8,000 you have to report the interest income.
  10. You must register your place of residence. You can register your legal residence in Ecuador at the Registro Civil.

Visa categories.

Category One: Temporary:  There are 3 categories of temporary visas; transient, tourist 90 days, International protection (refugee).

A Tourist visa is for 90 days, but you can pay a fee and extend it for another 90 days. You can stay up to one year as long as you apply. You cannot work on a tourist visa. The 90 days are considered within a calendar year; for example from September to September. If you violate the rules you will get a warning the first time and the second time there may be an administrative penalty.

Category Two: Humanitarian Visa: You must qualify for refugee status, such as that your life is in jeopardy.

Category Three: Legal residency: This may be temporary or permanent residency. A spouse can apply for the same category of residency.

Major change: All residency visas will be temporary legal resident visas. The temporary resident visa is legal for 2 years. You can renew it one time only; so you could hold this status for a maximum of 4 years. You can apply for permanent or indefinite residency after 21 months.

Requirements for indefinite visa. Criminal background check. New: If you have been in Ecuador for 21 months the background check will be from Ecuador, not your country of origin.

Requirements for temporary visa; Background check, and health insurance coverage.

  • Legal Temporary Residence.


  • Requirements for the new two year temporary visa: Background check, and health insurance coverage.
    • Self-employed persons can get a temporary residency visa for 2 years.
    • A self-employed temporary resident must have a minimum salary of $400 per months.
    • Temporary residents will get a cedula.
  • You can qualify for a temporary resident visa if you can prove you have money from a foreign source like an annuity or other income.


  • Out of country rules for on a temporary visa. Days out of the country are a maximum of 90 days per year, but the days can be accumulated so in a 2 year period it would 180 days total.
  • Legal Permanent Resident (apply after you have been in the country for 21 months).
  • Requirements for indefinite or permanent visa.


  • All documents for visa approval must be apostilled.
  • A background check is required for all visas. NEW: If you have been in Ecuador for 21 months the background check will be from Ecuador, not your country of origin
  • Ecuador must demonstrate that you are not a threat to Ecuador.
  • You must prove income.
  • You must apply for health insurance either private or Social Security. The charge for the Social Security Insurance Premium is based on your income.
  • Birth Certificate.
  • Note: If you already have your visa you do not have to change anything, but your new status will be recorded when you renew your passport.


Category Four: Investment Visa. You can invest in a CD to quality for a resident visa

Category Five: Retirement Visa. Now called 59-3.  You need to prove pension income.

Category Six: Investor Visa.   You must have assets for the development of companies. The amount is not yet specified.

Category Seven: Scientific Investigator or professor hired by the public or by a private entity.

Category Eight: Employee, no details.

Category Nine: Sports, artist. This category is for someone who is employed by a resident to provide a service or develop and activity.

Category Ten: Religious or religious volunteer. This applies only to churches or organizations recognized by Ecuador with documents that have been filed with Ecuador.

Category Eleven: Volunteer

Category Twelve: Student. This is for basic, secondary, college or university for 1 year. The family can apply based on the student.

Category Thirteen: Professional (formerly 9-5). This applies to someone who has technical skills or specialty skills with plans to develop a profession. You can qualify for a visa if you are creating your own job that will contribute income to Ecuador.

  • Note: Dependents: qualify under the category of the person supporting them.

Some requirements for citizenship:

  • You have been living in Ecuador for 3 years consecutively.
  • You must be a minimum of 18 years old.
  • You must have an apostilled birth certificate.
  • You must have a legal passport.
  • You must have a legal residency visa
  • You must know the flag and the national anthem of Ecuador

New Rules for obtaining an Ecuadorian driving license.

  • If you have a valid license from another country you can get the driver’s license in Ecuador. Details are yet not determined.

Some information about capital gain and property tax

  •  The value of your property can be reassessed by the municipality every 2 years and the tax can increase. When you sell the property, there is a tax on 75% of the increase in value. You can look at tax tables online at: capital gain tax.

* Contact information for Immigration Attorneys that the author has met personally who are fluent in English and Spanish.

Attorney in Otavalo, near Cotacachi, Ibarra

Santiago M. Andrade, Abogado.

Bolívar y García Moreno. Oficina 205. 2 do piso, Edificio Club 24 de Mayo Teléfonos: (593) 6 2928 318; (593) 0997 268 351 Otavalo – Ecuador

Attorney covering Bahia de Caraquez, Manta, Quito, and Salinas

Dr. Marcos Chiluisa Andrade

Quito Address: Av. Diego de Almagro y

Pedro Ponce Carrasco, Edificio Almagro Plaza


Cellphone Number (ecu): 0990-111-818

U.S. Number: (347) 298-2947, Quito

Salinas Magic Jack number: (415) 251-3034

email:  Marcos Chiluisa <>

SKYPE: dr.marcos.chiluisa

Attorney in Cuenca.

Andrea Jaramillo

Merchan & Jaramillo Abogados

Ave Cornelio Merchan 2-55 y Jose Peralta

Office 502, Edificio Acuario

Cuenca, Ecuador