ECUADOR | Newly Enacted Law Overhauls Immigration Scheme

While Ecuador remains a challenging environment for international business, its corporate immigration system is relatively open and simple. In a major new piece of legislation, effective February 6, the Ecuadorean government has enacted a major overhaul of its immigration scheme, in an attempt to better systematize processes. Changes include restructuring of visa categories, new rules for foreign nationals traveling both within and outside the country, conditions on both temporary and permanent residency, and revised application procedures.

Business Climate and Immigration

While many vestiges of South American-style socialism remain, in recent years Ecuador has made a steady, albeit slow, move toward more free market policies. At the time of this writing, final tabulation of the votes from Sunday’s general election had just finished, and it appears the left-leaning Lenin Moreno and the right-leaning challenger Guillermo Lasso are headed to a second-round electoral show-down in April. The result will likely determine the speed at which the market reforms will continue, but regardless of the new President taking office, the slow trend toward free market reform will surely continue.

Still highly dependent on oil production, Ecuador’s economy has in recent years suffered a deceleration from its previous 4 percent plus GDP growth due primarily to the weaker oil market, but further exacerbated by the infrastructure loss in the devastating April 2016 earthquake. Analysts recently scaled back growth projections for 2017 to a 1.7 percent GDP contraction after virtually no-growth in 2016. Nevertheless, there is still a perceptible effort to diversify its economy into the increasingly global market, notably in tourism and the telecommunications and information technology fields.