Ecuador on Thursday began a year-long regularization process for thousands of Venezuelan citizens who remain in its territory, in a bid to guarantee their economic and social inclusion in the Andean nation.
Thousands of Venezuelans have entered Ecuador in recent years fleeing the serious economic crisis in their country. Many of them use the Andean nation as a transit country to others in South America such as Peru and Chile.
More than 500,000 Venezuelan migrants and refugees lived in Ecuador as of August 2022, according to data from the International Organization for Migration.
The Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry said that the regularization is a migratory amnesty, from which some 324,000 Venezuelans who entered Ecuadorian territory through the official borders of the country will benefit in a first stage.
Ecuador also hopes to regularize from February 2023 another 300,000 foreigners who arrived through irregular steps. The whole process will conclude in August of next year.
With this, the Government hopes to create a database of foreigners in the country to generate a policy on migratory flows. In addition, it seeks to guarantee the rights of migrants to access labor and social benefits.
Venezuelan citizens have to register in a first stage virtually on a platform enabled by the Ecuadorian Government, which will later allow them to access a valid humanitarian visa for two years and an Ecuadorian identity card.
The process will cover foreign citizens of other nationalities, explained the Foreign Ministry.
In the early hours of Thursday, registration on the web had problems for Venezuelan citizens who wanted to access the process, according to migrant groups.
“Regularization is always a solution,” said Daniel Regalado, who works for an organization that helps Venezuelan migrants in Ecuador.
Ecuador applied a similar measure in 2019. The process included the application of a migratory census and the delivery of a temporary visa for humanitarian reasons.
At that time, some 57,500 humanitarian visas were delivered to Venezuelans, according to data from the Foreign Ministry.
The government assured journalists on Wednesday that Ecuador is not going to regularize people with criminal records and asked not to criminalize migration.