You’ve fallen deeply in love with Colombia, and now you’re ready to take the next step. Come along with us as we show you How to Get a Colombian Visa with some tips, tricks and guidance which we feel will help you avoid headaches.
NOTE: THIS ARTICLE IS NOT MEANT TO BE LEGAL ADVICE IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OF FORM. FOR SPECIFIC ANSWERS TO YOUR QUESTIONS, OR TO VERIFY THE INFORMATION WE SUGGEST YOU SPEAK WITH THE VISA AGENT WE SUGGEST IN THIS ARTICLE. THANK YOU.
How to Get a Colombian Visa
Getting your visa isn’t that hard, but if you do make a mistake it could cost you extra time and money. In this article we are going to talk about the different visa types available, some of the prerequisites AND a friend of ours who can help speed the process along without it costing you an arm and a leg.
There are three visa types:
- V – Visitante = Visitor/Tourist
- M – Migrante = Migrant/Work/Business/Investment
- R – Residente = Permanent Residency 5-year visa
Tourism Visa (Visitante)
This visa is for any visitor who comes for tourism and/or special events. The maximum initial visa is 90 days. Prior application not required. Your passport will be stamped on arrival according to the length of stay you indicate, if they ask. Do not assume they will give you the 90 days, always check the dates on your passport and if you are going to renew, make sure you do it at least 2-3 days prior to expiration. This includes medical procedures.
Pensioner – Retirement Visa (Migrante)
As long as your pension is the equivalent of 3 minimum wage salaries, you are in like Flynn! There are a few other requisites you will need, plus two separate trips to the embassy in Bogota, on two different days. If you work with our friend Luz Dary, you can obtain it for less cost than it would be to travel there yourself and without the risk of making mistakes. You must have a copy of your certificate of benefits and then request the visa study. With a power of attorney Luz’s assistants in Bogota can do it for you.
Emigrando Assessorias Consulares Address: Calle 19 #5-45 Local 2 Edificio Carabela Call: 320 700 0821
Work Visa (Migrante)
When you come here to work – you are required to have a work visa. The institution which intends to employ you is responsible for helping you with the application. Typically they will pay these costs. Due to the increased requirements for the business “type” it has become more difficult and sometimes they will try to make you pay for it. This is a tricky situation, but a good rule of thumb is to only accept a job that will offer to supply you with a legal work visa, if you are staying longer than 6 months. Most work contracts are 2-3 years.
Investment Visa (Residente) – Inversion Extranjera Directa
There is a minimum threshold which you must meet to obtain this visa of 650 minimum salaries or ~507,000,000 cop (2018) = ~$175,000 USD (variable rate). If you are able to meet that minimum, then you can apply for a five year Investment Visa. Note: It must be a business investment, but you could simply hand the money to the Banco de la Republica and they will help approve the visa. It isn’t necessarily the recommended way, but it is an option.
Student Visa (Visitante)
For exchange students, art students and post-graduate studies, it is classified as V – Visitante. This visa DOES NOT apply towards a permanent residency (R- Residente). This is a 2-year study visa which is more like a tourism visa for people who want to study Spanish, or take art classes.
Student Visa (Migrante)
For primary, high school and university studies, the “Cancilleria,” or Colombian visa authority, offers a 3-year visa which DOES apply towards a permanent residency (R) visa. This is an important distinction if you are hoping to apply for residency through school/university study programs.
Marriage Visa (Migrante)
One of the easiest visas to obtain, the author of this article was actually rejected and here’s why. It is only approved if you are married under a Civil Union document OR Matrimony document. Both can be obtained at any notary office during regular business hours. Do not try to do the “Intention to Marry” document because it is not solid enough to pass immigration scrutiny. Note: If you get a divorce your visa is invalid upon completion.
Business Visa (Migrante)
There are a couple different ways you can do it. One type is inversion inmobiliaria, where you buy houses or properties worth 350 minimum salaries, or 273,000,000 COP. This is a 3 year visa, which may not necessarily be favorable – unless you have already had two years previously on a work or business visa.
The other type is Proprietario, or business owner visa. You cannot get this visa alone. You must have a friend, spouse or associate who is also a part of the business. As of 2018, you must have assets in Colombia which equal 100 minimum salaries or ~ 78,000,000 COP. Note: You must have 6 months of bank statements from a COLOMBIAN bank to obtain this visa. Which means you may need to obtain a different visa first, establish a bank account, then apply for your business visa.
Emigrando Assessorias Consulares – Address: Calle 19 5 #5-45 Local 2 Edificio Carabela
Call: 320 700 0821
Residency Visa (R)
If you have a Colombian-born child OR 5 years (5 visas) as a pensioner, or a marriage visa you could possibly meet the requisites for this 5-year visa. Typically, you must have at least 3-5 years of continuous residence in the country to qualify for this visa. Work visas do not count towards residency. Note: If at any time you are in Colombia LESS than six (6) months per year, your residency visa could become invalid. If your previous visas have a gap in them (ex. 6 months of tourism), you might need to wait longer even if you were in the country.
Owner/Editor of OpenMindedTraveler.com, Erin is also the Project Administrator/Editor of Pereira City Guide.com - She has been living in Pereira, Colombia for several years.
Who is Luz Dary Ballesteros?
Imagine having someone in your corner who is timely, efficient and true-to-their word. With more than 14 years of experience processing visas, Luz Dary is all of that and more. From personal experience we can say that she has handled all of our visa processes for more than 5 years with a 100% success rate.
Fees & Services:
- Initial Colombian Visa Assessment & Consultation: FREE
- Visa Assistance Fee: 300,000 COP one time flat rate for ANY visa.
- Visa study costs & visa costs are in addition to the Visa Assistance Fee.
- American Passport renewal & replacement services available.
- Translation services available.
- Spanish Interpretation Service: 50,000 COP flat rate per appointment.
Emigrando Assessorias Consulares Address: Calle 19 #5-45 Local 2 Edificio Carabela
Call: 320 700 0821
In some cases applying for a Colombian Visa is very easy and pain-free…except when it isn’t. Especially if you are new to the country or have struggles with the language, you might consider outside help. The hardest part for the author of this article has always been dealing with La Migra – or Immigration.
They tend to use this legalistic type of Spanish that even some native speakers struggle to understand. Combine it with poor attitudes and a lack of patience, and it becomes a perfect recipe for disaster. Having someone with good connections and a savvy knowledge of the process, is without a doubt one of the most valuable resources you will find here in Colombia.
Sources: Government Decree Governing Visa Laws (Spanish) http://www.cancilleria.gov.co/sites/default/files/tramites_servicios/pasaportes/archivos/decreto_unico_re_.pdf