We provide a comprehensive Colombia visa guide that shows how to get a Colombian visa with all the possible visa options and tips for getting a visa.
Colombia changed its visa rules in December 2017 and many posts found on the Internet still have old information about Colombian visas. So, on the Medellin Guru website we have an entire series of 19 articles about Colombia visas that are being kept up-to-date and should answer most questions.
But even with our series of visa articles, we receive over 100 questions about Colombian visas monthly. As a result, we are now publishing this comprehensive Colombia visa guide with tips for getting a Colombian visa that should answer many visa questions.
Colombia Visa Guide: Colombian Visa Types
According to Resolución 6045 (Resolution 6045) of 2017, Colombia changed its visa rules in late 2017. So, starting on December 15, 2017, Colombia officially changed its visa classifications and now has three types of visas:
- Visitor (V)
- Migrant (M)
- Resident (R)
The new R visa is essentially the same as the previous RE visa. The previous different categories of TP visas became either M or V visas. Also, the new Colombian visa scheme added many categories of visas with a total of over 30 categories of Colombian visas under the new visa rules.
What is the Right Colombian Visa for Me?
With Colombia having over 30 different categories of visas it can be confusing as to which visas someone qualifies for. And this really depends on your situation. We have received many questions about which visa different Medellin Guru readers qualify for.
So, we have prepared the following flowchart to help decide among the most common Colombian visa types, which visas you may qualify for.
Note the above flowchart uses an exchange rate of 3,214 pesos per USD. Also, we recommend reviewing the detailed visa articles on this website for each type of visa. And in the following sections of this article, we provide an overview of all the different Colombian visas and how to apply for a visa.
Colombia Visa Guide: Migrant (M) Visas
There are 11 different conditions (categories) of Colombian M visas:
- Be a permanent Colombian national’s spouse or partner. This is essentially the same as the former TP-10 visa.
- Be a Colombian national’s father or son by adoption.
- Be a national of one of the States party to the “Agreement on Residence for nationals of Mercosur, Bolivia and Chile”. This is essentially the same as a TP-15 visa.
- Be recognized as a refugee in Colombia according to the current regulations. This is essentially the same as the former TP-9 refugee visa.
- Have permanent employment in Colombia or long-term, by virtue of a labor relationship or contracting of services rendered with natural or legal person domiciled in Colombia. This is essentially the same as a TP-4 work visa.
- Have constituted or acquired participation in the capital stock in a commercial company valued at least 100 times the minimum monthly wage in Colombia. This is essentially the same as a former TP-7 business investment visa.
- Have qualification or expertise to practice a profession independently. This is similar to the former TP-13 visa.
- Come to Colombia as religious, missionary or religious in formation of a church or religious denomination, duly recognized by the Colombian State. This is similar to a TP-5 visa.
- Be admitted or enrolled in primary, secondary or a higher education program at an undergraduate educational institution in Colombia. This is essentially a former TP-3 visa. Also, note that studying Spanish is now considered a Visitor (V) visa.
- Have registered foreign direct investment in Colombia for real estate valued at least 350 times the minimum monthly wage in Colombia. This is essentially a fromer TP-7 real estate investment visa.
- Receive a pension for retirement or receive periodic income from a creditable legal source. A pension must be at least three times the minimum monthly wage in Colombia or income must be 10 times the minimum monthly wage for a rentista visa. This is essentially a former TP-7 pensioner or rentista visa.
The following table maps the old TP visas to the new M visas.
More Details about Colombia M Visas
The biggest change for M visas compared to old TP visas is that many of the new M visas are valid for three years.
The most common duration exceptions for the new M visas are for work visas (category 5) and student visas (category 9). These may be valid for a shorter duration than three years based on the length of employment contracts or length of studies. Also, the business investment visa (category 6) may be valid for a duration shorter than three years.
M visas of categories 1 to 4 above will have an open work permit, which allows visa holders to carry out any lawful work activity in Colombia. So, if you have a marriage visa you can work in Colombia.
Also, the M work visa (category 5) or practicing professional (category 7) can work only for the position, entity or profession with which the visa was granted. And the M business investor visa (category 6) can only work for the company in which the visa holder is a partner or shareholder.
Especially relevant, if you have a M visa in categories 8 to 11 above, you are not permitted to work in Colombia. So, you can’t work if you have a religious, student, real estate investment or retirement visa.
Furthermore, if you leave Colombia for more than six consecutive months with a M visa, the visa expires and is no longer valid.
Colombia Visa Guide: Resident (R) Visas
The Colombia resident visa (R visa), which in Colombia is essentially the same as the previous RE (resident) visa. There are five categories of R visas:
- Returning Colombian – In some cases, Colombians living in other countries were required to renounce their Colombian citizenship when becoming citizens of their adopted countries.
- Is the father or mother of a Colombian national by birth.
- Has held a M visa category 1 to 3 above continuously and uninterrupted for two years.
- Has continuously and uninterrupted held for five years a M visa category 4 to 11 above. Or continuously and uninterruptedly held a beneficiary visa of type R for five years.
- Investment of at least 650 times the minimum monthly wage in Colombia.
In addition, if you leave Colombia for more than two years with an R visa, the visa expires and is no longer valid.
Colombia Visa Guide: Visitor (V) Visas
The Colombian visitor visa (V visa) can be granted for 16 different activities as follows:
- Carry out direct transit in one of the airports of Colombia and destined to a third country. This is similar to one option of a TP-2 visa.
- Visit Colombia for leisure, tourism or cultural interest purposes. This is similar to a TP-11 visa.
- Conduct business negotiations, market studies, plans or procedures of direct investment and constitution of commercial society, negotiation, conclusion of contracts or commercial representation.
- Participate in an academic exchange program, advance training in art or trade, or undertake different studies in a primary, secondary or undergraduate higher education program.
- Attend medical consultation, intervention or treatment or accompany the person who attends consultation, intervention or medical treatment.
- To carry out administrative and/or judicial proceedings before entities or authorities in Colombia. This is similar to one option of a TP-8 visa.
- Enter and work in Colombian jurisdictional waters as a boat crew member or offshore platform. This is similar to one option of a TP-2 visa.
- Participate in an event as a lecturer, exhibitor, artist, athlete, jury, contestant or logistical staff.
- Perform an internship.
- Volunteer in development cooperation projects or in the promotion and protection of human rights.
- Perform audiovisual production or digital content.
- Perform journalistic coverage or stay temporarily as a foreign media correspondent.
- Provide temporary services to a natural or legal person in Colombia.
- Hold a position in a Colombian branch of a company with presence abroad, by virtue of inter-corporate transfer of personnel.
- Coming as a foreign government official or foreign government trade representative, on a mission that does not imply accreditation to the Colombian government.
- Visit Colombia under holiday-work programs agreed by Colombia with other States through treaties in force.
In addition, there are seven additional categories of courtesy visas where a V visa may be issued. For example, one category of courtesy visa is for artistic, technical and foreign production personnel who enter Colombia for projects of production and filming of foreign cinematographic works.
A V visa may be valid for up to two years, considering the activity proposed by the foreigner.
How to Apply for a Colombian Visa
You can apply for a Colombian visa online. In addition, you can obtain Colombian visas at Colombian consulates around the world. In the U.S., Colombia has consulates located in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, Newark, New York, San Francisco and Washington DC.
The Colombian visa process is fairly easy as it’s done online. You can apply for a Colombia retirement visa online here. This application will require scans of all required documents in PDF files plus the photo in jpg format. In addition, a detailed guide for applying online is found here.
After receiving the online visa approval, if doing this in Colombia, you need to travel to Bogotá to get the visa in your passport. Or if at another country you can get the visa put in your passport at a Colombian consulate.
But the biggest challenge with doing a Colombian visa yourself is not benefiting from the experiences of a visa agency, which has processed hundreds of visas and knows exactly what is needed for each type of visa.
Is a Lawyer Required for Visa Services in Colombia?
The simple answer is NO. In Colombia, a lawyer is not really needed for most visa services. The application forms are relatively straightforward and the process and documents required are pretty well-defined.
Lawyers are typically only needed in complex immigration cases in Colombia. And lawyers are not really needed for most visas that are relatively straightforward like student, retirement, marriage or resident visas.
So, several visa agencies in Colombia exist that specialize in providing visa services at lower costs than the law firms.
We previously looked at visa agencies in Medellín and Colombia. You can find visa agencies in several cities in Colombia. For example, there are at least nine visa agencies in Medellín and at least four law firms offering visa services in Medellín.
What Visa Services are Offered?
Each of the visa agencies and law firms in Colombia generally offer similar Colombia visa packages that typically include:
- Virtual or in-person meeting with agency or law firm to discuss your visa application.
- Provide a list of documents required for your visa.
- Initial review of documents for your visa.
- Provide templates for some required documents.
- Review your visa application to ensure maximum probability of approval.
- Apply for your visa online.
- Visa stamping service – once the visa is approved, send your passport to Bogotá to get the visa stamped in your passport and return the passport to you.
- Visa registration and cedula application – assist with documents and schedule appointment with Migracion.
In addition, visa agencies provide additional services including translations and helping to get documents notarized and apostilled.
Pricing for Visa Services in Colombia
There is a wide range of pricing for visa services by the visa agencies and law firms in Colombia. In general, the visa agencies have lower prices than the law firms as seen in the following figure based on a survey of agencies in February 2019:
When we surveyed visa service prices in February 2019 we found a wide range of prices for visa services ranging from $125 to $2,000 USD. This was for the exact same visa services including sending your passport to Bogotá for visa stamping. We found that the law firms have the highest prices for visa services.
Also, note that Langon has the most complex pricing scheme for its visa services out of the companies surveyed, with prices ranging from $125 to $320. The lower priced basic visa services from Langon don’t include visa stamping services (sending your passport to Bogotá for the visa) or assistance with cedulas. In addition, Langon offers higher-priced priority services with 24-hour visa services and different pricing for virtual vs. in-person visa meetings.
Other Colombia Visa Fees
It is also important to understand that the fee paid to visa agencies for visa services is not the total cost of a Colombian visa.
There are also fees paid to the Colombian Minsterio de Relacions Exteriores for the government visa application and government study fees, translation fees, notary fees, apostille fees, document fees and delivery charges. Fees for a visa typically include:
- Visa service fee which is the fee paid to a visa agency or law firm for visa services. This can range from about $125 to $2,000 depending on the company used.
- The government visa application fees vary depending on the type of visa. This is paid after your visa is approved.
- The government study fee is paid as part of the original application and is usually $52 for most visas.
- Translations are required for documentation needed for a visa that is in a language other than Spanish and you should use a translator certified by the Colombian government.
- Notary fees are required for most visa applications. And notarizations are certifications by an official notary that verifies the identity of a person signing a document.
- Apostilles are used to validate documents from other countries to be used in Colombia.
- Delivery services may be needed for your visa application to deliver documents needed for your visa application.
In addition, if you are not using a visa agency, add in the costs for a trip to Bogotá to get the visa stamped in your passport. Also, there is a charge of 196,000 pesos for a cedula that is required after you receive your visa. We have a separate guide to obtaining a cedula.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Colombian Visa and Cedula?
The time required to receive a Colombian visa varies. The following are some approximate times for the different steps in the visa process when using a visa agency:
- Gather all the required documents including notarizations, apostilles and translations (if needed) – one day to four weeks.
- Submit the online visa application – most visa agencies do this within 24 hours after receiving all the required documents.
- Receive visa approval from the Colombian government – this can take one week or longer if an interview or other documents are required.
- Send passport to Bogotá for visa stamping – visa agencies typically do this in four to five business days.
- Register visa and apply for cedula – this should be done within 15 days of step number 3 and you need your passport with the visa from step 4.
- Receive cedula – this typically take 5 to 10 calendar days.
So, the total time to obtain a Colombian visa and cedula typically is from one to two months. But this can take longer, particularly for an expertise visa for professionals.
Colombia Visa Guide: Visa Tips
Here are several Colombian visa tips so you can avoid the common Colombian visa mistakes.
- Keep track of your time as a tourist. If you are in Colombia as a tourist you are limited to maximum of 180 days in a year as a tourist in Colombia.
- Register your Colombian visa and apply for a cedula within 15 calendar days. If you don’t register in time you are liable for a big fine.
- If you have a Colombian visa be careful that you don’t leave Colombia for too long. If you have a migrant visa (M visa) such as a retirement, work or marriage visa and are out of Colombia for a contiguous duration of more than six months without returning to Colombia, the visa expires and is no longer valid. And with a resident visa (R visa), if you are out of Colombia for a contiguous period of more than two years without returning to Colombia, the visa expires and is no longer valid.
- Use documents dated within three months for visa applications. Any document submitted with a Colombian visa application cannot be dated older than three months at the time of application.
- Get apostilles for documents from other countries. Any documents issued by a foreign country need an apostille to be used with a visa application in Colombia.
- Get official translations for documents not in Spanish. Documents submitted as part of a Colombian visa application that are not in Spanish need to be translated to Spanish for a Colombian visa application.
- Budget sufficient time to apply for and renew visas. Keep in mind that you need to apply for or renew a Colombian visa at least one month in advance. And some types of visas like the expertise visa can take much more time.
- Don’t try to obtain a Colombian visa yourself in Colombia. While it is possible to apply yourself, if you use a visa agency you can avoid a trip to Bogotá and benefit from the experience of an agency. The price for visa services can be as low as $125. So, why do it yourself?
- If not in Colombia, it can be easier to get Colombian visas in Colombia consulates. The consulates may not require apostilles and translations that are required in Colombia.
Using a Visa Agency to Obtain a Colombian Visa
It is possible to apply for a Colombian visa yourself online and travel to Bogotá to get the visa stamped in your passport. Some foreigners prefer to apply for visas themselves and travel to Bogotá to get the visa stamp.
I successfully obtained three Colombian visas that I applied for my own in the past that were good for a total of five years. But for my fourth Colombian visa I used a visa agency and found the process with a visa agency much easier than doing it myself plus I avoided a trip to Bogotá.
The biggest challenge with doing a Colombian visa yourself is not benefiting from the experiences of a visa agency, which has processed hundreds of visas and knows exactly what is needed for each type of visa.
Several visa agencies I have talked indicated that some clients come to them after running into problems trying to apply for a Colombian visa themselves.
Also, another big benefit of using a visa agency is that they offer services to courier your passport to Bogotá to get the visa put in your passport. So, you can avoid a trip to Bogotá. The cost of a visa service including the service to courier your passport to Bogotá can be cheaper than the cost of a trip to Bogotá.
Medellin Guru has partnered with what we believe is the best visa agency in Medellín to offer Colombia visa services. Features of this service include:
- Online chat – get visa questions answered fast.
- Online quotes – get immediate visa quotes.
- Courier your passport to Bogotá to get the visa in your passport.
- Office in El Poblado in Medellín.
- Competitive price compared to other visa services.
We reviewed all the Colombia visa agency services in Medellín and found one agency that offers a more efficient visa service with more features and more comprehensive communications including online chat, WhatsApp, Skype, email and phone plus a low price and a convenient office in El Poblado.
Getting a Colombian Cedula
After you have successfully received your Colombian Visa you have a maximum of 15 calendar days to register your visa with Migración Colombia to get a Cedula de Extranjeria (Colombian ID for foreigners). Or if you received your visa at a consulate, you will have 15 calendar days after you arrive in Colombia to register your visa.
Due to being photographed and fingerprinted this must be done in-person at a Migración Colombia office.
Especially relevant, it is very important to register your Colombian resident visa within the allotted time frame. If not, you will be liable for a big fine of up to seven times the minimum monthly salary in Colombia. The minimum salary in Colombia is 828,116 pesos per month in 2019. So, the fine is up to 5,796,812 pesos in 2019.
To register your visa and apply for a cedula this must be done at one of the Migración Colombia offices. You can find Migración Colombia offices in major cities in Colombia.
- Barranquilla – Carrera 42 # 54-77, Barrio El Recreo
- Bogotá – Calle 100 #11B-27
- Cali – Avenida 3 norte # 50N-20
- Cartagena – Carrera 20 B # 29-18, Barrio pie de la Popa
- Medellín – Calle 19 #80A-40, Barrio Belén (the entrance is on the other side of the building on Calle 19A)
Be Careful of Out-of-Date Colombian Visa Articles on the Internet
Warning! There are many posts and articles in English found on the Internet with out-of-date information about Colombian visas.
Colombia completely changed its visa rules in December 2017 but there are still literally hundreds of posts and articles found on the Internet that still have old Colombian visa information.
Even some of the Colombian visa agencies have outdated information on their websites that cover the old TP visas. If a post or article talks about TP visas has completely out-of-date information.
We previously looked at this problem in an article about the Internet being full of out-of-date information about Colombia.
Medellin Guru’s Comprehensive Visa Series
The Colombian visa changes that went into effect in mid-December 2017 were significant. So, on the Medellin Guru site, we have a comprehensive series of visa articles that are kept up-to-date and should answer most visa questions. These articles include:
- Colombia Visa Guide: Ultimate Guide How to Get a Colombian Visa
- How to Obtain a Colombian Visa with Up-to-Date Info – an overview of all the Colombian visas
- Visa Agencies: A Guide to Visa Agencies in Medellín and Colombia
- 7 Common Colombian Visa Mistakes: How to Avoid Them
We have looked in detail at the seven most popular Colombian visas used by foreigners:
Also, we have looked in detail at three additional Colombian visas, which are less popular for foreigners:
- Rentista visa (annuity visa)– for foreigners with a fixed income
- Beneficiary visa– for relatives of visa holders
- Expertise visa– for professionals
Furthermore, we have a guide to how apply for a cedula extranjeria in Colombia and a guide to using notaries in Medellín and Colombia. Finally, Medellin Guru has partnered with a visa agency to offer Colombia visa services.
All of our Colombia visa articles were updated in early 2019 to ensure they are up-to-date. In addition, all visa articles on this website will be kept up-to-date as new details are disclosed.
The Bottom Line: The Ultimate Colombia Visa Guide – How to Get a Colombian Visa
Medellin Guru has received hundreds of visa questions over the past two years. So, we now have a comprehensive series of 19 up-to-date visa articles including this Colombia visa guide that should answer most questions. Also, we partnered with a visa agency that can answer your visa questions.
Colombia has many visa options for foreigners who wish to stay in Colombia for a longer period than the 180-day maximum per year as a tourist.
In addition, obtaining a Colombian visa is relatively easy with fewer documents required than many other countries. Also, the visa costs in Colombia are lower than in many other countries in Latin America. Furthermore, the Colombian visa process is streamlined with online applications and is relatively fast.
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