Colombian visa process changes – due to the coronavirus pandemic, quarantines in Colombia and cancelled flights, Colombia has made changes to its visa process for tourist visas and normal Colombian visas.
These Colombian visa process changes provide relief for tourists stranded in Colombia and also forgives penalties for being late for some Colombian visa activities.
We provide a guide to all the Colombia visa process changes due to the coronavirus crisis with a particular emphasis on:
- Tourists with a tourist visa/permit extension good for 180 days about to expire.
- Tourists with a tourist visa good for 90 days needing a tourist visa/permit extension.
- Those who applied for a Colombian visa and were approved but were unable to register the visa or apply for a cedula due to the crisis.
- Those who want to apply for a Colombian visa or renew a visa.
- Those who are out of the country with a migrant (M) visa or resident (R) visa and exceed the time permitted outside the country but can’t return to Colombia due to the coronavirus pandemic and flights banned.
We have received over 50 questions from readers about Colombian visa process changes due to the coronavirus crisis. And this article provides answers to the most commonly asked questions.
EDITORS NOTE on May 20 – CORONAVIRUS IMPACT
New Tourist Visa Extensions Temporarily Available in Colombia:
As of early April 2020, apparently Migracion Colombia is no longer issuing tourist visa/permit extensions, as their online system for applying to tourist visa extensions is offline and Migracion offices are closed due to Colombia being under a nationwide quarantine from March 24 until May 31.
Also, according to the Minister of transport, international flights will be restricted until August 31 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
So, if you have a 90-day tourist visa, you can no longer obtain a tourist visa extension to 180 days.
What does this mean, if your 90-day tourist visa expires? Don’t worry, apparently because of the coronavirus pandemic, nationwide quarantine and no international flights leaving Colombia, the time reporting for tourist visas is reportedly suspended until May 30, 2020 (or other date determined by the government) or when international flights are enabled.
Also, according to Resolucion 1006 of April 1, 2020, you will get 30 days after the ending of the health emergency to extend your tourist visa or leave the country
However, instead of a tourist visa extension, there are over 20 different types of Colombian visas and Colombia is still issuing visas even during the quarantine in Colombia. We have a comprehensive guide to Colombian visas.
Migracion Resolution No. 0918
Migracion in Colombia issued Resolución No. 0918 on March 19, 2020, which outlines changes to Colombia’s visa processes due to the impact of coronavirus and Colombia being under a nationwide quarantine until May 25.
The main feature of the resolution by Migracion in Colombia is as follows:
It is necessary to provisionally suspend the accounting of the time of said documents already issued, which will go until May 30, 2020 or until the term established by the National Government for the health emergency is complied with.
So, this means that starting on March 19 until May 30 accounting of time stops – essentially the clock stops on March 19 in some cases we cover below. Also, keep in mind this can go until a different date, depending on what the government determines for the health emergency.
Tourists with a Tourist Visa Extension Good for 180 Days About to Expire
Under the new rules of Resolución No. 0918, the days between March 19, 2020 and May 30, 2020 (or other end date determined by the government) will NOT count towards the number of days that you are allowed in Colombia under your current tourist visa/permit extension if you ALREADY have an extension for a total of 180 days.
With the new rules, in example, if you have a tourist visa/permit extension (known as a PTP) that is expiring on April 15 and permits you to stay in Colombia for 180 days, no worries, you can stay longer than 180 days and past April 15.
In this example, what you do is calculate how many days you have from March 19 to April 15, which is 28 days (difference between March 19 and April 15 and including March 19). And when the clock starts again on May 30 (or other date determined by the government) you have 28 more days in Colombia.
The stoppage of time for the tourist visa extension also applies to anyone who requested a salvoconducto to stay in Colombia for 30 days under very limited circumstances (SC-2) such as for legal/administrative processes. Note this does not apply for anyone who requested a salvoconducto to apply for a visa prior to the current crisis.
Tourists with a 90-Day Tourist Visa Who Need a Tourist Visa Extension
For example, if you entered Colombia and they stamped a 90-day tourist permit on your passport, which expires on April 15, 2020, but you want to stay longer for 180 days due to difficulty in getting flights to leave or not wanting to leave.
In the past, Migracion Colombia rejected tourist visa extensions if more than about 10 days before your tourist visa expires. But Migracion Colombia is now swamped with tourist visa extensions, so we recommend submitting two weeks or more in advance before your tourist visa expires.
Once you apply, wait for an email from Migracion and make sure to look in your Spam folder. One reader reported she applied on March 19 and it took until March 27 to receive approval.
In addition, a few readers are reporting they are receiving an email from Migracion that says:
El documento del trámite registrado en línea se encuentra listo para ser entregado. Por favor preséntese en el centro facilitador de la ciudad de MEDELLÍN, ubicado en la dirección , donde quedo registrada su solicitud.
Unidad Administrativa Especial Migración Colombia
Essentially this email is saying, the document is ready to be delivered but need to go to a Migracion office. If you receive an email like this, you are in limbo and need to wait until Migracion offices are open. Other readers have reported problems with online payments for a tourist visa extension.
However, in early April 2020, the Migracion online system for applying for tourist visa extensions was taken offline. So, temporarily, Colombia is no longer issuing tourist visa extensions due to the online system being offline and Migracion offices being closed. Also, you do not necessarily need to extend your tourist visa if you plan to leave when flights are available.
Due to problems encountered by many foreigners when applying for a tourist visa extension, the visa agency we partnered with now offers a tourist visa extension service. The benefits of using this service include:
- You benefit from the experience of the visa agency. They have done many tourist visa extensions and know exactly is required.
- The visa agency applies for the tourist visa extension for you. And the agency knows the process and how to avoid problems.
- The visa agency will pay for you online. So, you don’t run into problems with online payment.
Applied for a Colombian Visa and Received Electronic Approval
If you were approved for a Colombian visa and received electronic approval but could not get the visa stamped in your passport, register the visa or apply for a cedula due to the current coronavirus crisis, you basically can do this when things return to normal without paying a penalty.
Technically you are required to get the visa stamped in your passport within 15 days and register your visa and apply for a cedula within 15 days or you would be liable for a fine.
But the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores office in Bogotá has been closed and also Migracion offices have reportedly been closed in Colombia due to the national Colombia quarantine.
Under Resolución No. 0918, the Colombian government with forgive any penalties and fees they would normally assess due to the coronavirus crisis.
Foreigners with a Migrant (M) Visa or Resident Visa Who Can’t Return to Colombia
Resolución 1296 of April 21, 2020 addresses foreigners with migrant (M) or resident (R) visas who can’t return to Colombia within the time permitted for being outside of Colombia.
A migrant (M) visa normally loses its validity if you are outside of Colombia more than six months at a time. And a resident (R) visa normally loses its validity if you are outside of Colombia more than two years at a time.
Resolución 1296 suspends the terms of early termination of visas due to absence from Colombia. This resolution suspends provisionally and until the Sanitary Emergency declared by the Ministry of Health, the counting the time of absence from Colombia, as a cause of termination of a M or R visa.
Want to Apply for a Colombian Visa or Renew a Colombian Visa
Colombian consulates around the world have reportedly stopped issuing Colombian visas, as the arrival of all international travelers to Colombia is currently suspended due to the coronavirus crisis. So, if you are in another country you can’t currently apply for a Colombian visa.
But if you are in Colombia you can still apply for a Colombian visa. Also, according to the visa agency we partnered with, they are still approving Colombian visas during the Colombia quarantine.
However, one thing has changed with Colombia visa application process due to coronavirus and the quarantine in Colombia. Some visas such as a marriage visa may require an interview. In the past, such interviews were conducted at the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores office in Bogotá.
But this office in Bogotá is now closed due to the quarantine. So, interviews for visas are now conducted remotely via Skype. If you need an interview for a Colombian visa during the coronavirus crisis, there is now no need to travel to Bogotá.
In addition, as we discussed in the previous section, once you get approval for a visa application or renewal, you need to get the visa stamped in your passport and register the visa and apply for a cedula.
But obviously you can’t do these things needed after a visa is approved in Colombia since the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores office in Bogotá and Migracion offices are currently closed. Once they re-open you can take care of these things and the Colombian government with forgive any penalties and fees they would normally assess.
Using a Visa Agency to Apply for a Colombian Visa
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.
The Medellin Guru visa service partnership was launched in March 2019. And in the first 14 months, 214 visas were successfully received by clients. Also, this visa agency provides services for renewing a U.S. passport, obtaining a visa stamp in your passport and extending a tourist visa.
Medellin Guru’s Comprehensive Visa and Passport 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
- Coronavirus Impacts on Colombian Visas and Tourist Visas
- Visa Agencies: A Guide to Visa Agencies in Medellín and Colombia
- 7 Common Colombian Visa Mistakes: How to Avoid Them
Also, 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 and were updated again in early 2020. In addition, all visa articles on this website will be kept up-to-date as new details are disclosed.
The Bottom Line: Colombian Visa Process Changes – Due to Quarantine and Coronavirus
The coronavirus crisis and Colombia’s response including closing borders, banning international flights and a national Colombia quarantine have made things difficult for tourists visiting Colombia and for some foreigners wanting to obtain visas to stay longer.
Migracion in Colombia has recognized these difficulties and responded with reasonable Colombian visa process changes that include permitting tourists here in Colombia who already have a tourist extension to stay beyond 180 days.
The Colombian visa process changes also recognize that if you obtain approval for a Colombian visa, you can’t register the visa and apply for a cedula in the required timeframe during this crisis. So, the Colombian government with forgive any penalties and fees they would normally assess.
In addition, if an interview is needed for your Colombian visa application, this interview is now done remotely via Skype. So, there is no need to travel to Bogotá, which is now impossible during the Colombia quarantine with domestic flights banned.
Unfortunately, the process changes don’t address tourists that are here with a 90-day tourist visa/permit. If you want to extend a 90-day tourist visa you need to follow the normal online process.
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Editors note: updated on April 4, 2020 with information that tourist visa/permit extensions are temporarily unavailable, as the online system for applying for tourist extensions is offline and Migracion offices are closed.
Editors note: updated on April 21, 2020 with information that the national quarantine in Colombia has been extended to May 11.
Editors note: updated on April 23, 2020 with information about Resolución 1296 of April 21 that suspends the terms of early termination of migrant (M) and resident (R) visas due to absence from Colombia.
Editors note: updated on May 6, 2020 with information that the national quarantine in Colombia has been extended to May 25.
Editors note: updated on May 20, 2020 with information that the national quarantine in Colombia has been extended to May 31 and that international flights will be restricted until August 31.