All About New Provisions For Colombian Visa Applications
On July 22, the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued new provisions for the processing of visas for legal stay or residence, pursuant to Resolution No. 5477. These changes had been contemplated for some time, but with the passing of the resolution it became official. These changes will enter into effect on October 22, 2022. This article will provide information about the most important changes and some useful tips and pointers for the Colombia visa application process in general.
Justification Of The New Regulations For The Granting Of Colombian Visas
Colombia is a country that has achieved significant advances in security and unprecedented economic growth. As a result, it is a country that is becoming increasingly attractive – hundreds of thousands of foreigners flock to the country every year. This was unheard of just a few decades ago, as the country was embroiled in a bloody internal conflict with leftist guerrillas and dangerous paramilitary gangs.
However, in recent years, due in large part to the gradually improving security situation, it has made progress in achieving peace and improving the quality of life of its citizens. Colombia is now a stable democratic nation with multiple attractions for tourism, business and investment.
In the last decades, authentic expatriate communities have formed in cities such as Bogotá, Cartagena, Bucaramanga, and Medellín, among others. Most of the foreigners come from countries in North America and Europe. Additionally, the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela has generated almost two million refugees from the neighboring nation. Therefore, it is not strange that the country updates its immigration regulations.
NEW VISA CATEGORIES
The new legal regulations maintain the same 3 categories of visa, while adding new types to each category.
Visitor (V), Migrant (M), and Permanent Resident (R).
With these changes of Resolution No. 5477. Colombia goes from having 32 types of visas to 43 types. Some of the new inclusions are:
- Permanent correspondent.
- Promotion of internationalization.
- Andean Migrant, Stateless.
- Digital nomad (more below)
- Resident by Temporary Protection Status (Venezuelan migrants).
- Agricultural worker.
What Happens With Real Estate Investor Visas?
The investor visa for the purchase of property is maintained and integrated within the category of migrants. Article 79 of Resolution No. 5477 regulates all requirements to apply for this type of visa. The minimum amount to invest is 350 legal minimum wages in force. For 2022, this means an amount of COP 350,000,000, equivalent to an approximate amount of $82k USD. This type of investment grants legal residency for a period of one to three years. Whether it is granted for one, two or three years is entirely at the discretion of the Migracion Colombia officer.
Investors in real estate used to have a second option – the 5 year Resident Visa for an investment of at least COP 650,000,000 – however unfortunately these new regulations are eliminating this second threshold tier and real estate investors will only qualify for the Migrant Visa going forward. However, the Migrant Investment Visa is renewable and by holding the Migrant Visa for 5 years, foreigners can qualify for residency this way. In that way the change isn’t drastic – although some may be disappointed by the elimination of this class of visa the same end result (residency) is attainable.
However, one key difference to note here would be that investors would need to renew the Migrant Visa several times during those 5 years (perhaps once, perhaps several times, depending on the length granted) – and would need to prove that they still maintain the investment in order to renew (or an equivalent investment).
FINALLY! The Digital Nomad Visa Will Become Available
We’ve been hearing speculation about Colombia introducing a Digital Nomad visa for years – even before the pandemic pushed millions online for work – Colombia had been contemplating it. With the passing of this resolution, it will finally take effect.
This visa will fall within the category “V” (visitor). This grants legal stay in Colombia for teleworkers, remote workers, freelancers, and digital nomads, whose source of income comes from abroad, according to law 2069 of December 31, 2020. This visa has the following requirements:
1. Hold a passport issued by one of the countries exempted from short-stay visas.
2. Submit the contract or a letter issued by one or more foreign companies for which the applicant provides his services, indicating the type of relationship and the remuneration for his work.
3. In the case of entrepreneurs, they must present a letter explaining their project and the financial and human resources they have or aspire to have.
4. Demonstrate, by means of bank statements, that the applicant has a minimum income equivalent to three Minimum Legal Monthly Wages in force, that is 3,000,000 COP (approximately 681 USD) during the last three months.
5. To have a health policy against all risks in case of accidents, illnesses, disability, death, or repatriation, with coverage in the national territory for the time foreseen for their stay in the country. (Whether or not they enforce this part is subject to debate. Sometimes they do, often they don’t)
The validity of the digital nomad visa will be up to two years. Visitor and migrant visas are also added for “Promotion of internationalization”, to promote productive activities in terms of innovation and research. This promotes entrepreneurship in Colombia, within the framework of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The change to the real estate investor visa mentioned above and the addition of the Digital Nomad visa are two of the most important changes coming up to Colombia immigration law.
If you need help with a visa issue, please contact us for some guidance. The following information is general information about the visa application process in general and may be useful for some applicants.
Colombian Visa Application Procedure
The foreigner who requires a visa for entry or extended stay in Colombia must submit a formal application to the Colombian Foreign Ministry. This is processed digitally on the website of the same or, if you prefer, at the Colombian Consulate in your place of residence.
The assistance of a lawyer is not required to apply for a Visa, however because the process is a bit complicated and time consuming, many people may choose to use a lawyer for their visa process.
Important Instructions for Applying for Colombian Visas
1). Have a valid passport or travel document, in good condition, and with free space for visas.
2). Fill out the electronic visa application form on the website of the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
All documents required other than identity or travel documents must have a date of issue no more than three months prior to the registration of the application.
4. All documents coming from abroad must-have an apostille or legalization and an official translation into Spanish when it is not in Spanish.
5. If bank statements are required, they may be submitted without apostille or legalization and without translation into Spanish, if their content can be clearly established by the visa officer.
6. In the case of requiring the presentation of judicial records, when the application for this visa is presented before a Colombian consulate based in the foreigner’s country of origin. The certification of a judicial or criminal record in accordance with the procedures established in that country will suffice. When the application is presented before Grupo Interno de Trabajo de Visas e Inmigración, the judicial or criminal record certified by the consulate of the country of origin accredited in Colombia or apostilled or legalized as the case may be presented.
In addition to the general requirements common to most visa categories. The visa applicant will be required to have medical insurance coverage in the country. In accordance with Law 1438 of 2011. Which seeks the universality of insurance, for the medical attention of foreigners in case of need. As previously mentioned, this requirement is not strictly enforced and many foreigners have successfully acquired visas without medical insurance.
Colombian Visa Application Processing and Response Times
Upon completion of the online visa application and payment of the visa application fee. The visa authority will have up to thirty (30) calendar days to issue a decision. This period may be exceeded when it is necessary to verify documentation or when it is necessary to consult with other entities. If the visa applicant is in the country at the time of application, he/she must be in the country legally, either through a valid visa, a laissez-passer or a Permit to Stay. The issuance time of the electronic visa ranges from three (03) to ten (10) working days.
The Visa application does not grant regularity in the territory and the duration of the study is not credited to apply for a residence visa. In other words, only the date from which the foreigner used the authorized visa when entering the country will be credited as valid time for the granting of permanent legal residence. Warning, many times foreigners do not comply with this rule, even without realizing it, and this causes the visa application to be denied in the end. Therefore, you must be careful not to exceed the time of legal stay in the country if you entered as a tourist and if there is not much time left to complete it. It is better to request an extension and even leave the country, and then re-enter and have enough time to complete the visa application process.
Colombian Visa Categories
The visitor category is suitable for carrying out various activities on a temporary basis in the country. Some of the types of this category are airport transit, tourism, business, student, medical treatment, administrative or judicial procedures, events, volunteering, businessmen, labor practices, service provider, work labor, and journalistic coverage, among others. They may authorize a work permit exclusively for the event, project, internship, mission, trade, or position for which the visa is granted.
The migrant category may be granted for periods of up to three years and applies especially in the following cases: Colombian national spouse, permanent partner of Colombian national, migrant, Mercosur, Andean migrant, refugee, partner or owner, worker, pensioner, investor, stateless person, mother or father of Colombian national by adoption or by birth, among others.
Finally, the permanent resident category is intended to provide permanent legal residence to foreigners who so desire and grants, except in the case of pensioners, an open work permit, allowing them to carry out any lawful activity in the national territory.
Visas issued before the entry into force of the new Resolution will remain valid. Thus, the time under the new rule may be counted for obtaining permanent residence. For this, it is necessary that at the time of the visa application, the foreigner has accumulated at least two years of effective permanence in the national territory under previous visas. Those who have permanent resident visas in force and granted under previous regulations must transfer the visa in their passport within the following two (02) years counted from the entry into force of this resolution.
What Happens If Visa Application Is Not Approved?
The Visa and Immigration Authority will communicate in writing to the foreigner’s e-mail the official decision regarding the visa application, either authorizing its issuance, requiring more information or the presence of the applicant or rejecting the application and denying the visa.
In case additional information or documentation is required, the applicant will have a period of up to ten (10) calendar days to comply with the requirement. If the interested party does not respond within this time, the application will be considered abandoned.
It should be noted that there is a discretionary power of the Colombian State to decide whether to approve the visa application. Therefore, its approval is not mandatory, the money paid is not refunded in any case and administrative appeals are not admitted. The official will keep in reserve the reasons for the denial in the user’s file. Once the study process is completed and if a visa application is denied, the foreigner must leave the country after the non-approval response within the following 30 days and may not submit another application after the following six months.
Conclusions From Analysis Of New Rules For Obtaining Colombian Visas
- In recent years, Colombia has become a very popular destination for thousands of expatriates, who find excellent opportunities to invest and reside temporarily or permanently.
- The new provisions, which enter into force October 22, 2022, seek to update the regulations and adapt them to the immigration policy, international treaties signed and the country’s development needs. In this sense, under the three existing visa categories, new types of visas have been created to grant facilities to foreigners who wish to settle and invest legally in the country.
- The new regulations are eliminating the second tier of the real estate investment visa, which had previously allowed holders a 5 year resident visa. Real estate investors will now only qualify for a Migrant Visa.
- The highly anticipated Digital Nomad Visa is becoming a reality – applications for it open October 22, 2022 and the requirements are not particularly difficult to meet.
If you wish to obtain additional information about investment opportunities in the City of Eternal Spring, or need help navigating the complexities of the Colombian Visa rules and regulations, contact us today!