Introduction To The Visa de Socio o Propietario
The Visa de Socio o Propietario has piqued the interest of the growing expatriate community. Specifically, those who are seeking business opportunities, investment possibilities, and the chance to obtain legal residency in the country. This type of visa allows foreigners to establish a company or invest in an existing business, thereby providing legal residency for up to three renewable years.
In this article, we will delve into this type of visa in detail, covering its requirements, benefits, limitations, costs, procedures, tips, and more.
The Visa de Socio o Propietario is officially established in Resolution No. 5477, issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Colombia on July 22, 2022. As expected, this unique visa category has drawn the interest of the expatriate community. After experiencing the advantages of being in Colombia, many expatriates view it as an appealing option for living and working, offering an enhanced quality of life and significantly lower living costs compared to their home countries.
Why Consider the Colombian Visa de Socio o Propietario?
While the reasons to apply for a Colombian Visa de Socio o Propietario are specific to each individual’s profile, whether you are a professional, entrepreneur, or potential investor, in general, the reasons to consider this option can be grouped into the following motives:
Business: This visa is designed for foreigners who wish to establish or invest in a business in Colombia. It allows the holder to work and reside in the country for a period of three years, with the possibility of renewal for additional three-year periods.
Immigration: The Visa de Socio o Propietario can be a significant step in the immigration process to Colombia, as, after five years of continuous residence with this visa, the holder can apply for permanent residency.
Opportunities: Colombia is a country with a growing economy and a dynamic labor market, so the Visa de Socio o Propietario can offer foreigners interesting potential and advantages to develop professionally in any area they wish to pursue.
Robust and Favorable Regulatory Framework for Foreign Investment
Likewise, along with the competitive advantages that the country offers, such as a foreigner-friendly environment, lower costs, access to quality services, diverse nature, and a rich local culture, Colombia has, to date, entered into 17 free trade agreements with 65 nations around the world. This facilitates investment in specific areas and ensures proper legal protection for foreigners coming to the country, fostering economic and social development, as well as the creation of jobs and business opportunities. These agreements benefit the citizens of the signatory countries and provide tax incentives and exemptions, preventing double taxation and helping to combat crimes like corruption, tax evasion, money laundering, and terrorism (SARLAT).
Benefits of the Visa de Socio o Propietario
The Partner-Owner Visa in Colombia offers numerous advantages, including:
Legal residency: The visa grants you the possibility to legally reside in Colombia as Socio o Propietario for a period of up to three (03) years and can be renewed, allowing the accumulation of time to obtain permanent residency
Work permit for your own company or business: You will be able to engage in any lawful activity of your choice.
Extended stay: The Colombian Visa de Socio o Propietario allows you to stay in Colombia for a longer period compared to a standard tourist visa.
Including direct beneficiaries: You can include direct beneficiaries such as a legal spouse, permanent partner, and minor or dependent children.
Access to services and benefits: You will be able to obtain a Colombian foreigner identification document known as “Cédula de Extranjería” which will grant you access to healthcare services, education, as well as the ability to open accounts and the option to obtain credit from Colombian financial institutions, among other benefits.
Virtual or in-person application: You can apply online directly on the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website or at any Colombian Consulate if you are outside the country.
There are other advantages to living in Colombia that you will have access to when obtaining a Partner or Owner Visa, including a lower cost of living, quality services, a foreigner-friendly environment, excellent climate, diverse nature, and a rich local culture.
Limitations of the Visa de Socio o Propietario
Additionally, it’s important to consider some limitations of this type of visa as to avoid any issues:
The work permit obtained is exclusive to the company you have created or invested in. So, you cannot legally work in another company.
You must maintain the investment made and meet the minimum required financial solvency, as well as demonstrate the activity of your company or business when renewing your visa.
You must comply with the country’s laws, including the payment of taxes.
Since it is a migrant-type residence visa, you cannot stay outside the country for periods exceeding 180 days per year, as this could result in the expiration of your visa after obtaining it.
Requirements and Eligibility for the Visa de Socio o Propietario
To apply for the Visa de Socio o Propietario, 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 75 of the resolution for specific information regarding the V Visa for Digital Nomads. Here are the key aspects you need to consider:
- Visa application letter: This letter should include the company’s name, its address, the Tax Identification Number (NIT) of the company in which you have invested or established, as well as the main activity of the company and the number of direct jobs it generates.
Aspects to take into account: So, firstly, you will need to establish a Colombian company or invest in an existing one. In summary, during this process, you will have to choose the type of company you wish to create or invest in and, undoubtedly, seek the guidance of professionals such as lawyers, accountants, and advisors. It’s important to note that investments made through a Public Offering of Shares (OPA) in the Stock Market or the purchase of bonds are not considered valid for obtaining the Visa de Socio o Propietario.
Once you have registered your company or certified your investment, you will need to enroll it in the Notary Public’s Public Registry and the Chamber of Commerce in the locality where you are located. Additionally, you will have to open a bank account and register it with the DIAN (Dirección de Impuestos y Aduanas Nacionales), and with Colombian Social Security entities, among other necessary procedures.
3). Investment Proof: You must invest an amount not less than one hundred times the minimum wage at the time of the visa application. In 2023, the current legal minimum wage in Colombia is 1,160,000 COP (Approx. 276 USD). Therefore, the capital you need to invest in your company or business is 116,000,000 COP, equivalent to 27,619 USD with an average exchange rate of 4,200 COP X 1 USD. This amount does not include additional business operational expenses and professional fees. You must prove the incorporation, participation, and acquisition of paid-in capital of a commercial company, or present registration of the foreign investment.
In the case of anonymous societies, the foreigner must demonstrate their participation in the Colombian company through a certificate of share composition signed by a public accountant. This certificate must indicate the amount of registered and paid-up capital owned by the foreign visa applicant. For the creation of companies in the mining-energy sector, the applicant must also provide a mining authorization or title issued by the competent authority.
4). Operational status and solvency of the company: The commercial enterprise in which you have invested must maintain its own economic activity, which you will need to support with bank statements from the last three (3) months at the time of your Visa de Socio o Propietario renewal application. Additionally, you must include an income tax declaration, contributions to social security, a lease agreement, and proof of payment of the industry and commerce tax to ensure the conditions of this visa are maintained over time
5). Digital Photograph: Please provide a digital photograph with a white background, measuring 4 x 3 cm, with a neutral expression. The use of accessories such as earrings, glasses, caps, or a white shirt is not allowed, and the photo must have a maximum file size of 100 KB.
6). Government Fee Payment: You must pay the cost of the Visa de Socio o Propietario. It’s important to note that these fees are subject to change and are non-refundable under any circumstances. Additionally, the Cédula de Extranjería is a mandatory document for foreign residents in Colombia, which you must obtain if your visa application is approved.
Additional Information that May Be Required at The Discretion of Colombian Foreign Ministry Officials
While no additional requirements beyond those stated in Article 75 of Resolution #5477 of 2022 are established for this type of Visa de Socio o Propietario, officials from the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs possess “Facultad Discrecional” to approve, deny, or declare visa applications inadmissible. This discretion is rooted in the principle of national sovereignty and is governed by the country’s immigration policies. In some instances, officials may request clarifications, interviews, or additional documentation if they have concerns about the applicant’s profile or related aspects. Therefore, it is important to respond to these requests to enhance the likelihood of approval. Some of the relevant documents or information include:
- Demonstrate Legal Stay: If the applicant is in Colombia, they must possess valid legal stay status at the time of their visa application, which means having a valid visa or extension. This can be proven with the last entry stamp or visa stamped in your passport or with a valid Permiso Especial de Permanencia (PEP) or “Salvoconducto.” This point is crucial, as an illegal presence in the country may result in the denial of your visa application. On the website of Migración Colombia you can carry out some of these procedures online.
- 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. Art. 26 of Resolution 5477 of 2022 establishes that the Visa Authority may verify online the judicial record of the visa applicant in the Colombian National Police database and in other databases to which it may have access.
- 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 visa application have an “Apostille” seal. This seal certifies the validity and authenticity of documents issued in countries that are signatories to this convention. Article 21 of Regulation #5477 establishes that, with some exceptions, all documents issued abroad must have the formalities of apostille, legalization and official translation into Spanish when they are not in Spanish.
- Policy, Contract, Program, or Assistance Plan with broad coverage in the national territory: Article 32 of Law 1438 of 2011 establishes the universalization and promotion of medical insurance for foreigners entering the country. Additionally, Article 3 of Resolution #5477 of July 22, 2022, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Colombia addresses this aspect regarding foreign visa applicants. They must have coverage for accidents, illnesses, maternity, disability, hospitalization, repatriation, or death. Thus, it may be necessary to ensure coverage for these risks within the discretionary authority of the immigration authority.
Step By Step Guide to Applying for the "Visa de Socio o Propietario"
- 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 Visa de Socio o Propietario. This form collects relevant personal and employment information. I have a video tutorial in Spanish on Colombian visa application forms. Watch it here.
- Step 2: Attach the documentation mentioned above according to Article 75 of Resolution #5477 of 2022.
- Step 3: After completing the form and attaching the requirements for the Visa de Socio o Propietario, you will need to pay an application fee. As of the end of October 2023, this fee is 55 USD. Then, if your digital nomad visa is approved, you will need to pay an issuance fee of 270 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.
- 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 October 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).
Cases Requiring Information, Additional Documentation, or Correction of Errors for Colombian Visas
If your Visa de Socio o Propietario 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.
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.
Conclusions About The Visa de Socio o Propietario
The Visa de Socio Propietario is an excellent choice for foreigners looking to invest in the country. This visa offers several advantages, including the opportunity to reside in Colombia for up to three years, work legally, include direct beneficiaries, and access healthcare, education, and the financial system, among other benefits.
However, it is crucial to consider the limitations of this visa, such as the requirement to maintain an active business and investment activity, as well as to comply with the country’s legal obligations, including tax payments.
Although the application process for the Visa de Socio o Propietario can be done online, it is vital to ensure that you meet all the requirements and prepare the necessary documentation. Similarly, if you have any questions or encounter any complications, do not hesitate to consult with an immigration specialist attorney or an agent experienced in expatriate visas. This will help you avoid errors and increase your chances of success in the process.
Questions, comments? Contact me today and I will be happy to discuss any of these issues further with you.