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Ecuador's Visa Changes 2022

Last Updated: 27th February 2022
Written by Jason Scott
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It feels like we're still catching our breath from Ecuador's 2021 visa updates. Given we swore in a new President after these 2021 visa changes, it's little surprise we have a raft of new visa rules to work our way through for 2022.

Editor's Note

1. These changes were officially implemented on 10 March 2022. They are now in effect. Download the official registry publication (or here for an English machine-translated version - but we always suggest the Spanish original). 

2. Decree 354 was released on 18 Feb 2022

3. Each of Ecuador's migration offices are currently interpreting these new regulations. Don't expect all interpretations to be the same amongst each office. 

4. Don't act on this advice alone. There will be a lot of gray areas whilst the dust settles. 

5. We'll update this article as we get updates from our network of attorneys, facilitators & migration offices. 

Income requirements for Retirement & Rentista visas have tripled

It appears as though Ecuador has decided to substantially increase monthly income requirements for the Retirement & Rentista visa categories.

Income requirements before

$425 per month

Income requirements after

$1275 per month

Both the Retirement & Rentista income requirements were previously based on 1 basic salary. We're not sure why, but these have now been upped to 3 basic salaries (which currently equals $1275).

We did get some indication that the income requirements for the Rentista Visa might be updated. During conversations of the much anticipated Digital Nomad Visa, it was revealed that this visa would most likely be created under the Rentista Visa category. And, the income requirements were to be 3 x basic salary.

But, applying the same income requirements to the Retirement Visa category was a complete surprise to everyone in the visa industry (including us).

President Lasso's campaign promise was to increase the basic salary to $500. If this happens, then the minimum income requirements for these visas would increase to $1,500 per month.

Our thoughts on the change

Whilst I seem to be in the minority, I was always hesitant to heap praise on the Digital Nomad Visa because it may set the income standard for other visa types. This looks like what's happened.

The powers that be have decided they want to only attract retirees that can afford to live like upper-class Ecuadorians. Only a small proportion of Ecuadorians (& certainly not retirees) can prove they earn over $1275 per month. 50% of Ecuadorians live off less than $500 per month.

The Retirement Visa income requirements seem to be bouncing around with no real indication why. There were reduced from $800 to $425 in 2021, but have now gone the other way with this most recent increase to $1275. Who knows what they will be in 2023! It's this uncertainly that effectively prevents lots of wannabe expats from seriously considering Ecuador as their retirement destination.

Difference between proving income requirements & having income

I've seen some commentary welcoming the move to increase the income requirements to $1275 as this is more in line with what many expats actually spend whilst living in Ecuador.

I disagree with this line of reasoning. Income requirements for the purpose of a visa have no bearing on the actual cost of living. There are many use cases that will fall through the gaps.

For example, I know many expats that have multiple income sources which can be difficult to prove. These expats may fall under the $1275 limit when proving income, but they can still live a very comfortable life. Ecuador no longer welcomes these potential expats and I can't see this as being positive for the Ecuadorian economy.

Less expats that will be eligible

Internal data from our partners on current Retirement Visa applications suggest that around 40% of applicants don't meet the new $1275 monthly income requirements. This is a sizeable chunk of the expat market, which I'd expect to have trickle-down effects on many businesses in Ecuador.

Who is this change aimed at?

We can only speculate on the political motivations behind tripling these income requirements. One plausible theory is that it's mainly aimed at ensuring Ecuador's neighbors, particularly Venezuelans, find it difficult to migrate in mass numbers.

2. Income for dependents increased

It's not just the income requirements for the primary visa applicants that have received an overhaul. The income requirements for dependents across several visa categories have also been updated. The monthly income requirements for dependents now looks like they will be:

  • Investor & Rentista: $425 for each dependent
  • Retirement: $250 for each dependent

Our thoughts on the change

They are further decreasing the pool of eligible expat families that can call Ecuador home. For example, the total income that a couple applying for a Rentista Visa (one main applicant + one dependent) is now $1,700. This seems very out of touch when you consider how much local couples tend to make.

The inevitable result is the income gap between expats and locals will increase even more. This doesn't normally bode well for lingering tensions between the two communities.

3. First look at the Digital Nomad Visa

We got our 1st look at Ecuador's Digital Nomad Visa and I have to say I'm a little disappointed. Let me explain.

Article 64 of Decree 354 indicates that the Nomad Visa is still subject to the 'essential requirements determined in the law'. These essential requirements are outlined in Article 58; including the following:

"Certificate of no criminal record from the country of origin or in which he/she has resided during the last five years, duly translated into Spanish and, if applicable, apostilled or legalized, as appropriate. For these documents one hundred eighty (180) days of validity will be taken into account, counted from the date of issuance of the certificate until the last entry of the interested party to the country."

Yep, the Digital Nomad Visa will still require a background check that is also apostilled. I personally had discussions with the Ministry pushing for the Digital Nomad Visa and they made it clear they wanted to make this visa as easy as possible to obtain. The trade-off was to be the increased income requirements.

I'm comfortable arguing that this background check requirement (complete with apostille) destroys any hope that this visa will be easy for digital nomads to obtain. The background check component is generally the most time-consuming and expensive part of the visa process.

The reality is that the Professional Visa is going to be a much better option for most digital nomads now. This visa survived any substantial updates and the income requirements are still set at $425 per month. So, if you have a degree (associates or higher), then I do suggest sticking with the Professional Visa and not bothering with the Digital Nomad Visa.

4. Permanent residency requirements still not clear

One of the most frustrating legacies of the 2021 changes is still not clear. That is whether those currently on a temporary residency visa could leave Ecuador & still be eligible for permanent residency.

The Azogues Migracion Office took a closed stance and were denying permanent residency visas if you'd spent even one day outside Ecuador during temporary residency. However, some other offices took a wider stance and were approving permanent residencies for applicants that had spent up to 89 days outside of Ecuador during temporary residency.

The 2022 visa updates do address this and I have my interpretation of the new law. But, I need to wait until each office provides its own interpretation before I'm comfortable providing this to you. My money is on another non-uniform interpretation between the offices, but let's hope this doesn't eventuate.

Wrapping up

We'll provide a more comprehensive round-up of these changes once it's clear how they are interpreted. I know this is a very stressful time for applicants currently going through their visa process. My thoughts go out to you and hope these updates haven't destroyed your plans of calling Ecuador home.

Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions. We can try to answer them or put you in touch with a visa specialist that can.

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34 comments on “Ecuador's Visa Changes 2022”

  1. Hi Jason, this is an excellent summary and discussion of decree 354. I know one thing that is bothering some expatriates is whether those who already have temporary residency retirement visas might be required to resubmit proof of income to meet the higher requirements to renew their visas or transfer to permanent status. What do you think about this?

    1. Thanks Jonathan. I wish I knew where they were heading with this. My initial thoughts are we'll most likely end up with different migration offices providing different interpretations. Azogues has a history of applying a closed interpretation, so I'd suspect they are one of the most likely to require increased income upon renewal/applying for permanent.

    2. President Lasso's Executive Decree outline what is needed for a Temp Visa Renewal:
      -Documents that support economic resources,
      -current passport,
      -renewal request
      -visa form

      To go from a 21 month Temp Visa to a Perm Res. Visa, proof of adequate resources for 12 months is required.

  2. Is it possible that the Ecuadorian PTB wish to discourage expatriates from competing with Ecuadorians for affordable housing options? If so, that might be in conflict with Decree 354 which states that "That article 9 of the Constitution of the Republic establishes that foreign persons who are in Ecuadorian territory will have the same rights and duties as Ecuadorian persons"

    "That numeral 2 of article 11 of the Constitution of the Republic states that all people are equal and will
    enjoy the same rights, duties and opportunities, and that no one may be discriminated against due to their
    immigration status."

  3. To go from income of $800 to $425 requirement seemed drastic enough. Now the income of $1275 makes even less sense. I have more than enough income but I feel for the expats coming in who have income close to this.

    1. Doesn't look like they'll be coming. I have a permanent residency visa but was hoping to become a naturalized citizen. The hoops through which one must jump in becoming a naturalized citizen are also raised.

      Doesn't any longer look like Ecuador will be competing for the number one or number two spot for prospective ex-pats. . . .

  4. We have had our criminal background checks started. I am getting a copy of my diploma and transcripts. What are the travel restrictions during the first 2 years on a professional visa? Should we just bring the apostilled documents with us, or courier them to you, when they arrive?? Please send us any forms we need to fill out for you, now.

    Thanks - Cheryl

    1. Hi Cheryl, we've previously referred you to two different visa experts to help with your visas. They are more than capable of answering your detailed questions like these. Or have you decided to try and do your own visa applications?

  5. I have a Doctor of Chiropractic degree, but many months ago, I was told that chiropractic is no longer considered for the professional visa. Has this changed? The education is equivalent to an orthopedist with a specialty in neurology.

    1. I'm not sure about this one. It could be a gray area. I'd suggest checking with a facilitator or Attorney to be sure. Feel free to use this Visa Eligibility Calculator - at the end you can send a message to our recommended facilitator or Attorney.

  6. I have an M.A. in Art. Would that qualify for a professional visa? I also have a California Community College Credential in Art and Communication Studies. Would that count for a professional visa?

    I would like to buy property in Ecuador, but I want to live there for some time, to know where I want to buy, and to find the right home.

  7. And what about those of us with plenty of assets to draw from who purposely have very little income? Income does not equal wealth, or spending. Do they want me to take my spending to another country in favor of someone with a small social security check but no money?

    1. I’ve heard other people in the situation. They’ve created LLCs and paid themselves monthly salaries to meet the minimum requirements.

  8. Question on a professional visa can adult defendants be on it like the retirement visa? Just asking. I have 2 masters in education and 2 bachelors degrees.

    1. Hi Loleta - yes, adults can be dependents. Many couples choose this path if they have a partner that doesn't qualify on their own.

  9. Hi Jason,

    This is very helpful. Thank you. One question - can adult kids (early 20s) be dependents? Many thanks.

  10. Hi Jason, NEW SW: consulado, EC, is up and running! I processed mine, Sat Am. (Took me 2 hrs.) Confirmation # from EC. ! Now, See if all my data correct/accepted: I did translations, Then hopefully soon, interview. Real nice software. It will serve EC well. There is a 14 page document in english or spanish of entire process; Also, List of types and their ‘requirements’ . (1 pg.) Helps. I’m going thru closest consulate in US.

    1. Hola, Jason. Email me if questions or I can be of help.
      Above:, all steps to enter App., took me 5 1/2 months (processing US documents, apostilles and then the delay with SW release. (Forgot to mention that.)
      ‘Patience is a virtue’….as my grandmother said! It’s always a good lesson in dealing with US govt and the EC govt. I’m very excited for EC. New SW, Visa app, will greatly enhance their partnership with Expats.
      *** time to update your VISA 2022 . :-). (I’m a private person, so none of this has to be on your REPLY site. Or ‘greatly’ edit. . :-). B.

  11. If only US president Joe Biden would keep his campaign promise and increase SSA benefits by $200, as promised, more of us lower income recipients could qualify.

    1. He needs a Senate that will work WITH him, rather than AGAINST him to get these things accomplished. Unfortunately, that is not the case, hence we have a lame duck presidency.

  12. Hello there, I have read your aricle and found it useful.

    I have a question, Has invstment visa changes when a foreigner buy a Property such as House or apartment in Ecuador?

    As far as I know, the investment on Real estate or buy house around 30,000 USD was enough to be qualify as temporary residency and then lead to citizenship.

    Thank you.

    1. Morning Javad. Yes, the investor visa has since increased to 100 basic salaries, which is currently $425. Meaning, you'll need to invest $42,500 in Ecuador to be eligible for the investment visa. The 2 most popular investment options are property or a CD (certificate of deposit).

        1. Yes, buying a property with an assessed value (not the purchase price) more than $42.5K will work. The other popular option is a Certificate of Deposit (or CD). Good luck!

  13. Jason, is the spouse considered a dependent in a Pensioner visa? The information does not say specifically that a wife or husband is considered a 'dependent'.

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