Guide to the Colombian Digital Nomad Visa - Medellin Advisors

Guide to the Colombian Digital Nomad Visa

Guide digital nomads visas

Introduction to the Colombian Digital Nomad Visa

The rising popularity of digital nomads has led many countries to adapt their immigration policies to attract these professionals who work remotely while traveling the world. Colombia, a country rich in culture, breathtaking landscapes, and a vibrant digital scene, has recently launched the Colombian Digital Nomad Visa

In this article, we will explore in detail this type of visa, including its requirements, benefits, limitations, costs, procedures, tips, and more.

Visa aplication in colombia
Like other countries, Colombia seeks to attract international tourism with the Digital Nomad visa

The Colombian Digital Nomad Visa was announced in 2022 by the former government of President Ivan Duque, in accordance with Resolution No. 5477 of July 22, 2022, issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Colombia. As you can imagine, this special type of visa has generated interest among the growing community of expatriates and digital nomads, who, upon visiting Colombia and experiencing its advantages, consider it as an option for living and working with a high quality of life and significantly lower costs compared to their home countries.

Colombia is an ideal place for the life of a digital nomad.
Colombia is an ideal place for the life of a digital nomad.
Resolution number for colombian visa applications
The Resolution #5477 issued on July 22, 2022, by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, made the Digital Nomad Visa a reality in Colombia

In November 2022, we published the following video on our YouTube channel, providing information about the new rules and policies established by the Colombian government for processing Colombian visas. However, at that time, there was not enough official information available as some announced changes were yet to be implemented. A fair amount of time has passed since then, which is ample time for us to delve into the Digital Nomad Visa in-depth based on the real-life experiences of expatriate friends and clients.

Why Consider the Colombian Digital Nomad Visa?

The growing popularity of digital nomads has led many countries to adapt flexible immigration policies to attract these professionals who work remotely while traveling the world. Colombia, a country rich in culture, breathtaking landscapes, and a vibrant digital scene, recently launched the Colombian Digital Nomad Visa last year. We will explore in detail this type of visa, including its requirements, benefits, limitations, costs, procedures, tips, and more.

Tourists in Medellin
Colombia, like other countries, introduced the Digital Nomad Visa last year

The Digital Nomad Visa represents a strategic approach by the Colombian government to ensure the country continues to receive significant revenue from the extended stays of foreigners in the country.  Colombia has experienced sustained tourism growth since signing a peace agreement with the main guerrilla group FARC in 2016, ending a conflict of over 60 years. In 2022 alone, the country welcomed over 4,606,915 foreign tourists, generating an income of over $2,097 million, nearly 4% of the nation’s GDP. As of April 2023, 2,502,338 foreign visitors from around the world had arrived. Key destinations include Bogotá, Medellin, Cartagena, Cali, and San Andrés, among others. 

Turismo estadistics colombia
According to official figures, as of the end of April 2023, Colombia had already welcomed millions of tourists from around the world

Colombia Has Become an Incredible Destination for Backpackers and Nomads from All Over The World

The Colombian visa for digital nomads is an attractive option for those seeking to establish themselves in Colombia for an extended period (2 years, renewable). This South American country offers a unique combination of natural beauty, rich history, and a growing digital community. Additionally, the exchange rate for strong currencies like the US dollar, Euro, and others with the Colombian peso is favorable, meaning your money can go further here. Services are of good quality and accessible, making it cheaper to live here on average (30-40%) compared to other countries in the Americas or Europe. 

Colombia tax free
Colombia is an appealing destination for the global community of digital nomads

Benefits of the Colombian Digital Nomad Visa

 Legal residency: The visa grants you the possibility to legally reside in Colombia as a digital nomad for a period of up to two (02) years and can be renewed.

Remote work allowed: With this visa, you can carry out your remote work or operate your online business without the need to obtain local employment. This provides you with the flexibility to continue your work while enjoying the experience of living in Colombia.

Extended stay: The Colombian Digital Nomad Visa allows you to stay in Colombia for a longer period compared to a standard tourist visa. This gives you the opportunity to explore and enjoy Colombian culture, landscapes, and lifestyle for an extended time.

Access to services and benefits: By obtaining this visa, you will have access to the services and benefits provided by the Colombian government to legal residents, such as healthcare, education, among others.

There are excellent places to work as Digital Nomads
The Digital Nomad Visa allows you to legally live in Colombia with many advantages

Restrictions of the Colombian Digital Nomad Visa

  • Exclusive remote work activity: The visa is specifically designed for those who engage in remote work or have an online business. It does not allow employment in Colombia or the conduct of commercial activities within the country.

  • Maintenance of income: You must demonstrate that you have sufficient financial resources to sustain yourself during your stay in Colombia without the need for local employment. It is important to have an adequate level of financial solvency to meet this requirement.

  • Compliance with immigration legislation: As a visa holder, you must comply with all immigration laws and regulations of Colombia. This includes respecting the permitted stay periods and fulfilling any requirements or procedures established by the immigration authorities.

  • Renewal and monitoring: The Colombian Digital Nomad Visa has a limited duration of up to two years, therefore you must renew it upon expiration to maintain your legal status and retain its benefits.

The Colombian digital nomad visa clearly establishes benefits, but also restrictions that must not be violated in order to maintain it
The Colombian digital nomad visa clearly establishes benefits, but also restrictions that must not be violated in order to maintain it

Requirements and Eligibility for the Colombian Digital Nomad Visa

To apply for the Colombian Digital Nomad Visa, you must meet certain requirements and eligibility criteria set by the Colombian government, as outlined in Resolution #: 5477 of 2022 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Please refer to Article 46 of the resolution for specific information regarding the V Visa for Digital Nomads. Here are the key aspects you need to consider:

1). Valid Passport: You must hold a passport issued by a country or territory exempt from a short-stay visa in Colombia, according to the mentioned resolution. Before applying for the visa, it is important to verify if your country of origin has a visa exemption agreement for short stays in Colombia. Currently, there are over 100 nationalities eligible for this visa. Additionally, your passport must have a minimum validity of six months and be in good condition.

Second passports
To apply for the Colombian Digital Nomad Visa, you need to validate if your passport is exempt from a short-stay visa
  1. Demonstrate that you are a digital nomad: You need to prove that you work remotely or have an online business that allows you to generate income while you are in Colombia. This requirement can be fulfilled by providing a letter in Spanish or English issued by one or multiple foreign companies for which you provide services, indicating the type of relationship and remuneration received. If you have a contract with the company, you should provide it, or you can demonstrate that you are a partner or co-owner of a foreign company through a letter indicating that you work for the company remotely.
Example of a Digital Nomad Employment Letter - Fictitious Data
Example of a Digital Nomad Employment Letter - Fictitious Data
Example of a Digital Nomad Employment Letter - Fictitious Data II
Example of a Digital Nomad Employment Letter - Fictitious Data

It is crucial to carefully review the supporting documents of your Digital Nomad visa application to avoid rejections due to contradictions or unintentional errors. For freelancers or independent workers, the documents must demonstrate that you will not seek employment in Colombia. Coherence and consistency are key. Similarly, if you are a business owner or digital entrepreneur, be sure to demonstrate your business activity with adequate documents such as: customer invoices, sales reports, collections and payments you receive for this reason, among others, for clear analysis by the Colombian Foreign Ministry official. 

Visa nomada digital
The Digital Nomad visa allows you to stay in Colombia for up to two years and can be renewed

3). Sufficient Financial Solvency Demonstration: You must demonstrate that you have income equivalent to at least 3 times the current legal minimum wage (the minimum wage in Colombia in 2023 is COP 1,160,000) per month, so three times this amount is approximately $775 USD. This will allow you to sustain your stay in the country without needing to seek local employment. Please attach your bank statements or financial statements from the past three (03) months, which demonstrate that you regularly receive this amount or more from your remote job, service, or digital business. You may also include additional supporting documents such as income receipts, tax returns, or any other relevant financial records.

Regarding bank statements to demonstrate your financial solvency for your digital nomad visa, here are some important points to consider:

  • Request a detailed report of your financial transactions from your bank for the past three months in a formal format with the bank’s logo and contact information to ensure its authenticity.
  • The bank statements should demonstrate that you receive the amount stated in your employment letter, invoices, contracts with clients, or sales if you’re a digital entrepreneur.
  • Save and maintain at least three months‘ worth of your declared income as available balance before submitting your visa application to demonstrate your ability to sustain yourself in Colombia in case of job loss or similar circumstances. The recommended amount is at least $2,500-3,000 USD. Based on the minimum set by Colombian authorities to cover three months of stay. If you’re including dependents in your digital nomad visa application, such as a spouse or dependent children, you should have additional funds available.
During the COVID-19 quarantine in 2020, thousands of foreigners lost their sources of income and had to return to their countries on special humanitarian flights due to being unable to afford their stay expenses
During the COVID-19 quarantine of 2020, thousands of foreigners lost their income and had to return to their countries on special humanitarian flight

The Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs aims to ensure that you won’t face future financial difficulties and can handle any unforeseen situations. Consider the cases of expatriates and students during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, who had to leave the country, leaving debts and significant losses to Colombian service providers.

Vuelos humanitarios del al de agosto page
During the height of the 2020 pandemic, thousands of foreigners had to be repatriated to their home countries because of financial difficulties in Colombia

4). Medical Insurance or Travel Assistance Plan: According to Article 46 of Resolution #:5477 of 2022 by the Ministry of Foreign Relations, you must provide proof of a health insurance policy or travel assistance plan during your stay in Colombia. The insurance should cover accidents, illnesses, disabilities, hospitalization, death, repatriation, and, for female visa applicants, maternity coverage as well.

The medical centers of Medellin have specialists in various types of surgeries
If you are applying for a Colombian visa you need to have an insurance or travel assistance program

Some Important Points to consider Regarding Insurance or Assistance Programs for your Digital Nomad visa

  1. Not all insurance policies cover “maternity,” “disability,” “death,” and “repatriation.” Check before purchasing to avoid any issues.

  2. A one-year policy is insufficient for longer visas. Most insurance and travel assistance companies offer only one-year renewable contracts. After extensive research, I have found only three options so far that provide special insurance for Colombian visas for two or even three years (such as the investor visa).

  3. Beware of opportunistic or inexperienced agents who offer cheap insurance without considering the law and your specific case. Qualified agents are scarce.

Some important points to secure your Nomada Digital visa
Some important points to guarantee your Digital Nomad visa with a valid insurance or assistance program

Take your decision informed, as saving money on insurance this year is fine, but sooner than you think, you will have to start the visa renewal process for next year. Analyze the situation carefully before making a decision. The cost of these plans to meet regulatory requirements currently ranges between $600 and $900 USD per person per year, but it may vary depending on age, medical history, and requested duration. 

Remember to consult with a professional insurance broker or agent who specializes in handling expatriate visa cases. This benefit of having an agent is a right you have according to Colombian laws, and it is also cost-free for you, as it is paid by the companies, but it is a great advantage to avoid improvisations.

Additional Information that May Be Required at The Discretion of Colombian Foreign Ministry officials

Although not explicitly stated in Article 46 related to the Digital Nomad Visa, it is established in Resolution #5477 of 2022 that the competent authority has broad discretionary powers. Therefore, it is foreseeable that Colombian Foreign Ministry officials may request additional information or documentation from the applicant before approving or rejecting this digital nomad visa application. Some of the relevant documents or information include:

  • Police record or criminal background: You may be required to provide a certificate of criminal background demonstrating that you have no criminal record in your country of origin or in countries where you have resided during the past five years.

Unfortunately, some expatriates have drawn attention to themselves, causing concern among Colombian authorities and the population. It is common to hear in the news and on social media cases involving expatriates engaging in noisy parties, sex tourism, webcam and pornography activities, as well as illegal drug possession and even homicides. Therefore, it is understandable that the Colombian Foreign Ministry is being stricter and not allowing undesirable individuals to enter this country.

The government will be stricter in visa applications due to the inappropriate behavior of some expatriates.
Some expats behave inappropriately, whcih has caused some restrictions and limitations in visa programs.
  • Apostilled Documents: Colombia is a member of The Hague Apostille Convention of 1961, which includes 118 countries worldwide. Therefore, it is possible that in some cases, officials from the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs processing visa applications may request that the documents submitted for your Digital Nomad visa application have an “Apostille” seal. This seal certifies the validity and authenticity of documents issued in countries that are signatories to this convention.
Apostilles examples
In some cases, Colombian visa officials may request apostille, translation, or legalization of foreign document
  • Recent photo: Attach a recent photograph in digital format that complies with the requirements established by the Colombian immigration authorities.
 
  • Travel itinerary: If you are currently abroad, provide a tentative travel itinerary showing your plans for staying in Colombia, including dates and places you intend to visit.
Country visas colombia
The Colombian visa authorities may request additional information from you, such as travel itinerary, place of stay, among others

Step By Step Guide to Applying for the Colombian Digital Nomad Visa

  • Step 1: Fill out the online application form on the website of the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. You will need to complete the official application form for the Colombian Digital Nomad Visa. This form collects relevant personal and employment information. I have a video tutorial in Spanish on Colombian visa application forms. Watch it here
Slide visas
  • Step 2: Attach the documentation mentioned above according to Article 46 of Resolution #5477 of 2022.
 
  • Step 3: After completing the form and attaching the requirements for the Digital Nomad visa. You will need to pay an application fee. As of the end of May 2023, this fee is 52 USD. Then, if your digital nomad visa is approved, you will need to pay an issuance fee of 170-230 USD. The fee will depend on your nationality. So please check the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website at the time of application as this amount may vary. 
Digital nomads
The application process for the Digital Nomad visa is 100% online on the website of the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Step 4: Wait for the processing time. Normally, it takes around 30 business days. However, due to the high volume of applications, as of the end of May 2023, the average response time in some known cases has been longer (averaging 45 days). To obtain your visa, you must be in the country legally or have obtained an extension of your tourist visa or a special stay permit (PEP). If your current stay is illegal, your application is likely to be rejected.
 
  • Step 5:  If the response is positive, congratulations! You will be able to obtain your visa and have it stamped in your passport. This process may vary if you are in the country. You can obtain it personally in Bogotá or abroad (at consulates, embassies, or diplomatic representations of the country).

If you want to live in Colombia you must apply for a residence visa
If your Colombian Digital Nomad visa has been approved, you will be able to enjoy its benefits

However, if you are requested to provide additional information or correct any errors. you must respond within a period of ten (10) days. Failure to do so will result in your application being considered abandoned.

If your visa application is denied, and you are in the country. You may be required to leave within a period of thirty (30) days, and you will not be able to submit a new application within the following six (06) months.

Cases Requiring Information, Additional Documentation, or Correction of Errors for Colombian Visas

If your digital nomad visa application is not yet approved, and you are requested to provide additional information, documentation, or make corrections, you must respond within a period of ten (10) days. Failure to do so will result in your application being considered abandoned.

However, if your visa application is denied, and you are already in the country. You may be asked to leave within a period of thirty (30) days, and you will not be able to submit a new application within the following six (06) months.

Colombian authorities have the sovereign right to deny visa applications.
Colombian authorities have the sovereign right to deny visa applications

Is it Mandatory to Hire a Colombian Lawyer to Submit a Colombian Visa Application?

No, the process can be done online for free, and it is not mandatory to hire a Colombian lawyer or visa agent. However, it is highly recommended to minimize the risk of rejections or future complications. Especially if you are an expatriate who is not familiar enough with the country, its laws, and language. You might make mistakes or act imprudently when submitting the application, which you would regret if you are rejected and have to leave the country, waiting for six (06) months. When considering the time and money involved, it is more than worth it to hire a good specialized lawyer here. 

Sometimes people may unintentionally make mistakes when submitting visa applications in an attempt to save money, and the result can be disastrous.
Sometimes people may unintentionally make mistakes when submitting visa applications in an attempt to save money, and the result can be disastrous

Conclusions About The Colombian Digital Nomad Visa

The Colombian digital nomad visa is ideal for people from all over the world. This country is an incredible destination, not only for its tourist attractions but also for the quality of its people, rich culture, delicious cuisine, and, of course, lower cost of living compared to other countries.

Submit your application in advance and avoid waiting until the last moment due to the high volume of applications in process.

Colombian society does not want to receive visitors involved in inappropriate activities such as sex tourism.

Some clients have been requested to provide apostilled documents, which can delay the approval process.

Failure to provide the requested additional documents is considered a withdrawal of the application, with legal consequences.

Comprehensive insurance is required, but caution should be exercised in selecting the appropriate provider.

The Foreign Ministry authorities have broad discretionary power to request additional documentation or deny visas. In this case, they can ask you to leave the country, and you won’t be able to submit a new application for six months.

Questions, comments? Contact me today and I will be happy to discuss any of these issues further with you. 

 
 

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