Colombia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has simplified the immigration process by reducing the number of visa categories from 21 to three.
Starting December 15, those planning to visit, work or reside permanently in this country will be able to apply for one of three categories: Visitor (V), Migrant (M) or Resident (R). In Resolution 6045 of August 2, 2017, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs set out these new provisions to simplify and rationalize the immigration procedure, and give a break to foreigners trying to navigate the many categories. So, here is a breakdown of the new visa categories:
1. Visitor (V): Given to a foreigner who wants to visit Colombia, one or several times. The visa is valid for one year, and could be extended up to two. The visa permits temporary stay for those requiring medical treatment. If you are a correspondent with an international media outlet, this visa allows you to reside in Colombia up to a year. This visa also allows the holder to conduct, among other activities, business management, market studies, direct investment plans or procedures for the creation of a registered company.
2. Resident (R): For those who aspire to establish or fix their permanent residence in Colombia.
3. Migrant (type M): Any foreigner who wishes to enter or remain in the country with the intention of establishing a residence, but does not comply with the conditions to request an “R” type visa. This visa will be given to parents of a Colombian national, as well as citizens of Mercosur nations, under the Temporary Residency Agreement, as well as foreigners with refugee status.
It is important to keep in mind that all visas issued before December 15 maintain their validity and conditions. The holder must request a new visa category only when their current visa expires. The procedures for visa processing do not change either. The use of the electronic system implemented in Colombia since 2013 facilitates the complete visa application on one digital platform, as well as applying for the official ID card – cédula de extranjería – with Migración Colombia after the visa has been approved.
The three visas can be processed at consulates abroad or the Visa Office in Bogotá. Foreigners from countries with which Colombia does not require a visa may continue to visit the country for the established time, and as they have been doing, provided the purpose of the visit is tourism and unpaid activities.
With the exception of certain regulated professions, M and R visas are your entry ticket to a life in Colombia and no longer restrict what you can do in terms of work. If the person, however, does not qualify for these two categories, but is interested in working in Colombia, they can obtain a permit on the Visitor’s visa for temporary, occasional or short-term work. After two years with a M visa, one may apply for Resident status, and that will be validated every five years, like a cédula. In all the above mentioned categories, one must inform in the application who your employer or contractor will be.