Through the implementation of universal visa freedom from 2008 to 2010, Ecuador became one of the most accessible countries in the world. This article employs mixed methods to study the impact of the de facto opening of Ecuador’s borders on intercontinental south-south migration. First, we use a difference-in-difference design to show that Ecuador’s policy of universal visa freedom led to a significant increase of immigration from previously restricted nationalities in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. Complementary descriptive statistics and qualitative findings confirm the decisive impact visa freedom had on intercontinental south-south migration and suggest three main motives: taking advantage of Ecuador’s open doors as an exit option from origin countries, settlement in Ecuador based on relatively improved opportunities, and transmigration to third countries. Our findings imply that travel visa policies of southern countries significantly impact which new south-south flows emerge.
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The authors would like to thank Andreas Beerli, Ignazio De Ferrari, Maria Franco Chuaire, Ana Garcia Hernandez, and the participants at the NOVAFRICA Workshop on Migration and Development, Justin Gest, Jessica Goldberg, Dominik Hangartner, Sylvan Herskowitz, Giovanni Peri, Hannah Postel, Dustin Welsh, the editors of IMI Working Paper Series, and the International Migration Review reviewers and editors for their thoughtful comments and suggestions, which greatly helped to improve this article. The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.