Connecticut, US

Jul 30 2019

Stay Rules to be Relaxed for Venezuelan Nationals Already In Country, but Entry Requirements to Become More Stringent

Ecuador

At a Glance

The president of Ecuador has signed an executive decree concerning Venezuelan nationals seeking to enter or already in the country. Key changes include:

  • Beginning August 25, 2019​, Venezuelan nationals seeking to enter Ecuador will need to obtain a Humanitarian Visa​ (or any other visa established by law) prior to entry and will no longer be able to enter Ecuador ​under a visa-exempt status; 
  • Venezuelan nationals who entered the country legally on or before July 26, 2019 and have not violated Ecuadorian laws, will be able to obtain a two-year Humanitarian Temporary Residence Visa to regularize their status; and
  • Venezuelan nationals will be able to use their Venezuelan passport or identification card up to five years after its expiration to regularize their status. Currently, Venezuelan nationals must have a valid passport to apply for a Humanitarian Visa.

 

The effective date, process details and requirements for the humanitarian consular visa and temporary residence remain uncertain until the Ministry of Foreign Affairs releases further regulations within the next 90 days.


The situation

The Ecuadorian government published an executive decree reforming immigration requirements for Venezuelan nationals residing in or seeking to enter the country.

A closer look

The immigration reforms include:

New Rule / Process Prior Rule / Process Impact
  • Entry visa required. Beginning August 25, 2019​, Venezuelan nationals seeking to enter Ecuador will need to obtain a Humanitarian Visa​, or any other visa established by law, prior to entry and will no longer be able to enter Ecuador ​under a visa-exempt status.
  • Currently, Venezuelan nationals can enter Ecuador without obtaining a visa as tourists or business visitors.
  • Venezuelan nationals will no longer be able to enter as tourist or business visitors simply by presenting their Venezuelan passport or identification card upon entry, as is currently the practice.
  • Employers will see delays in hiring Venezuelan nationals currently outside of Ecuador due to the time it takes to process a visa.
  • The process details and requirements to obtain the consular Humanitarian Visa remain uncertain until the Ministry of Foreign Affairs releases additional regulations and consular instructions within the next 90 days. 
  • Regularization of status. Venezuelan nationals who entered the country legally on or before July 26, 2019 and have not violated Ecuadorian laws will be able to obtain a two-year Humanitarian Temporary Residence Visa to regularize their status. The regularization process will end March 31, 2020.
  • Applicants who meet the above criteria may apply for the visa even if they are in irregular immigration status at the time of their application.
  • Previously, Venezuelan nationals could reside and work in Ecuador only under employment, family or treaty-based visas.
  • Eligible Venezuelan nationals will be able to reside and work in Ecuador and access public education, social security and health care, even without a job offer.
  • The process details and requirements to obtain the Humanitarian Temporary Residence Visa remain uncertain until the Ministry of Foreign Affairs releases additional regulations and consular instructions within the next 90 days.
  • Expired documents valid to regularize status. Venezuelan nationals will be able to use their expired Venezuelan passport or identification card for up to five years after its expiration to regularize their status. 
  • Currently, Venezuelan nationals must have a valid passport to apply for a Humanitarian Visa. 
  • There should be an increase in the number of Venezuelan nationals who can regularize their status in Ecuador; once their status is regularized, these Venezuelan nationals will be able to work and reside legally in Ecuador.
  • It is still uncertain whether expired documents will be considered valid for purposes of entering the country or applying for any other type of visa. 

 

Background

  • Previous concessions for Venezuelans in Ecuador. The Ecuadorian government previously granted Venezuelan nationals relief from certain immigration requirements. For example, Venezuelan nationals do not have to present an apostilled criminal clearance certificate when entering Ecuador and can use their Venezuelan identification card instead of a passport if their passport is expired or valid for less than six months.
  • Approaches to Venezuelans in Central and South America. While some countries in Central and South America continue to relax their immigration policies to benefit Venezuelans fleeing the country’s humanitarian crisis, some countries facing the highest influx of migrants have started to retract some of their concessions in an effort to improve migration tracking efforts and minimize the impact to the country’s public service systems.
  • Entry visa policy similarities. Ecuador’s entry visa requirement is similar to those recently implemented by Chile and Peru.

 

Looking ahead

An analysis led by the UN Refugee Agency (ACNUR) and the International Organization for Migration (OIM) projects that by the end of 2019, almost 500,000 Venezuelans will reside in Ecuador. The current reforms demonstrate the government’s intent to more accurately track the number of Venezuelans in the country. As the number of Venezuelan migrants increases, employers and foreign nationals should be prepared for additional changes and tracking mechanisms, not only in Ecuador, but across other Latin American countries.

Fragomen will monitor the implementation of the executive decree over the next 90 days and report on relevant developments as they occur.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to lar@fragomen.com.