Neils Olsen

Ecuador’s Digital Nomad Visa?

Ecuador’s new Minister of Tourism, Neil Olsen, is in talks with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to create a ‘Nomad Visa’.

The Minister has pointed towards the economic benefits that foreigners working remotely from Ecuador will bring as the core reason for the possible new visa.

Neil uses the following example on his Facebook post to illustrate the economic benefits:

“Mike, an American living in New York earns $6,000 / month. He spends $2,000 in rent, $800 in food, $200 in transportation, miscellaneous expenses $1,000. Total $4,000.

Mike could move to Puerto Lopez (or anywhere in Ecuador) and work remotely as he did in his cramped apartment in New York. In Puerto Lopez, his expenses would drop from $4,000 to $1,000, he would work on the waterfront with a largely vaccinated population, same time zone, great weather and fresh seafood, Internet access, and of course, whales and manta rays just minutes away.

You will be spending your salary in Puerto Lopez and traveling around Ecuador injecting foreign currency into our economy and generating new jobs.”

 

I applaud Neil’s intent. He wants more digital nomads to take up residence in Ecuador. I support this 100%. For the record, I also support Neil and his vision for tourism in Ecuador.

But, I’ve previously argued that Ecuador’s current visa laws are really already very attractive for digital nomads. The main problem? Very few digital nomads know about them.

My main concern about Ecuador pursuing a specialist Nomad Visa is the potential high-income requirements generally attached to these types of visas.

If we take an example from our Latin neighbor, Costa Rica. They are also considering a Nomad Visa, but they already have a Rentista Visa that digital nomads can obtain. The biggest difference is the income requirements. The new Nomad Visa doubled the monthly income requirements from $2,500 to $5,000.

Now, if Ecuador takes a similar approach, we could see the current monthly income requirements for the current residency visas increase from $400 to whatever Ecuador thinks a typical North American remote employee makes.

From Neil’s example, this is $6,000 per month.

Now, let’s not jump to conclusions about the eventual income requirements. But, if I was to guess I would put it at much more than the current $400.

Next steps

Are you a digital nomad in Ecuador? Feel free to join our Digital Nomad Ecuador FB Group.

This article originally appeared in Expats Ecuador.

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