Ecuador is an easy country to immigrate to. There are multiple visa options and the requirements and processes not overly burdensome.
With some recent changes to the immigration laws codified under the 2017 ‘Ley de Movilidad Humana’, we wanted to help our readers to better understand the rules as they are constituted.
Currently, travelers from all but 12 countries in the world have 90 days of visa free travel by simply presenting a valid passport with at least 6 months of validity remaining. If you would like to stay longer as a tourist there are extensions available to you (see below).
You can apply for a residency visa within Ecuador or via an Ecuadorian Embassy where you live. From time to time the Embassy’s have slightly varied rules than what you find in Ecuador.
Additionally, the visa offices in Ecuador are not always uniform and some are easier than others to traverse.
Under the recently implemented immigration rules, you first must apply for a two-year temporary resident visa before you can apply for permanent residency (one of two major changes to the law). At the end of those two years (advisably 21 months in) you then may apply for a permanent resident visa, which does not need to be renewed.
Types of Visas
The categories of and requirements for the temporary and permanent resident visa options are nearly identical – so the following information is true for both.
There are 4 common types of residency visas:
For all resident visa applications you are required to provide:
Criminal history (both state and federal)
Proof of health insurance
While in many cases not required it is advisable to have your birth certificate as well
Marriage certificate if applying as a couple
The specific requirements for each Visa option are as follows:
The investor visa is one of the most widely utilized and perhaps easiest ways to achieve residency in Ecuador.
You may qualify for the investor visa by:
Purchasing real estate with a minimum Municipal assessed value of $31,680. Your visa is then attached to the property, so if you should decide to sell you will have to first apply for a different visa.
Buying a Certificate of Deposit for $27,720 + $500 per dependent. The CD is held by the Ecuadorian Central Bank, the funds and interest however are yours. The CD must be held as long as you wish to hold the visa.
Investing in a business or company with a $27,720 minimum investment. This can be accomplished by starting a business or buying one.
Note: for the Investor Visa you are required to demonstrate a minimum monthly income equivalent to the Ecuadorian minimum wage – this is done by showing 3 months worth of bank statements (just printed not apostilled).
To qualify for the Pensioner Visa you must demonstrate a lifetime pension income equivalent to $800 per month (net) and an additional $100 per month in the case of a married couple.
Note: for the pensioner visa you are required to submit Pensioners Benefit Letter provided by the paying institution documenting net monthly benefit and lifetime duration.
The professional Visa can also be a great option for college graduates. You must demonstrate a Bachelor degree or higher to qualify for this Visa and your college or university must be on the approved list of university’s. In most cases even if your university is not on the approved list you can still qualify (see below).
Note: for the professional visa you are required to submit an apostilled diploma.* In addition, you are required to show a minimum monthly income equivalent to the Ecuadorian minimum wage – this is done by providing 3 months worth of bank statements (just printed not apostilled).
*In the case that your university is not on the approved list, you must submit an apostilled transcript and study letter.
Rentier Visa (rental income visa)
This is also an excellent choice if you are a business owner or own income producing properties.
Under this visa you are required to show $800 per month in income (plus $100 per dependent). This can be in the form of rental, business or investment income.
Note: you are required to prove the income via a lease or other applicable form.
Once you have received your temporary resident visa you are allowed to be outside of Ecuador for a total of 90 days in year 1, 90 days in year 2, 180 days in year 3 (you are permanent resident at this point), 180 days in year 4 and then after year 4 you can leave up to five years and maintain your residency.
Tourist Visa Options
You are granted visa free travel on a passport for up to 90 days as a tourist from nearly every country in the world – with the current exceptions of: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Senegal, Cuba and North Korea.
If you would like to extend your stay as a tourist you have the option of applying for a 90-day extension.
If you would like more time there is a Special Tourist Visa of 6 months. For this visa you must demonstrate six months of the basic salary as well as health insurance – this option is only available to you once every five years.
Tips and advice
Often it can be easier to apply for your visa where you currently live if you are near an Ecuadorian Embassy – this allows you to avoid traveling in Ecuador to a Visa office and sometimes the individual consulates have more relaxed requirements.
Your documents expire! Begin preparing your documents close enough to your planned application date that they wont expire.
Use an FBI channeller (if you are from the US) to get your FBI criminal history as they can get it fast whereas if you send the prints yourself it could take 3-4 months to receive the documents.
Get help! Can you apply for a resident visa on your own? Sure and many have! However it will make your life much easier and allow you to avoid the many pitfalls and bureaucratic nightmare so common to Latin America if you hire a professional service to assist.
After 3 years of residency, you are eligible to apply for Ecuadorian Citizenship – however you are only eligible if you have been out of the country a maximum of 180 days for the first three years.