Colombian visa process changes – due to the coronavirus pandemic in Colombia and cancelled flights, Colombia 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 that are expired.
- Tourists with an expired tourist visa/permit 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 250 questions from readers about Colombian visa process changes due to the coronavirus crisis. And this article provides answers to the most commonly asked questions.
EDITOR NOTE on September 21 – Migracion offices reopened on September 21 in Colombia. So, this article was updated. See our new article about Migracion offices reopening.
New Tourist Visa Extensions Were Temporarily Available in Colombia:
As of early April 2020, Migracion Colombia stopped issuing tourist visa/permit extensions, as their online system for applying to tourist visa extensions was taken offline and Migracion offices are still closed due to Colombia being under a health emergency due to the coronavirus until November 30.
When the national quarantine ended on September 1, some thought that Migracion offices would reopen but the offices are still closed. However, Migracion offices reopened on September 21 due to international flights resuming.
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 August 1.
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 the term established by the National Government for the health emergency is complied with.
So, this means that starting on March 19 until some later date, accounting of time stops – essentially the clock stops on March 19 in some cases we cover below. Keep in mind this goes until a future date depending on what the government determines for the health emergency. Migracion offices did not open when the quarantine ended on September 1. The time is extended until September 21 when the clock restarted.
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 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.
The clock stopped on March 19 for those with a 180-day tourist extension. And we confirmed with Migracion that the clock restarts on September 21. However, Resolution 2223 is ambiguous about those with expired 180-day tourist visa extensions. It is possible you are limited to being in Colombia until the end of October.
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 became swamped with tourist visa extensions, before the quarantine and will likely be swamped when they reopen. So, we recommend submitting two weeks or more in advance.
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 receiving an email from Migracion when Migracion stopped issuing tourist visas 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 received an email like this, you are in limbo and need to wait until Migracion offices reopen. Other readers reported problems with online payments for a tourist visa extension before the quarantine.
In early April 2020, the Migracion online system for applying for tourist visa extensions was taken offline. So, Colombia was no longer issuing tourist visa extensions due to the online system being offline and Migracion offices being closed. e
However Migracion offices reopened on September 21. So, it is possible again to extend a Colombia tourist visa. Follow our tourist visa extension guide to easily extend your tourist visa.
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 when tourist visa extensions resume 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 normal Colombian visa such as a retirement visa or marriage 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 normally 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 been closed in Colombia until September 21 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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.
The visa agency we partnered with has helped many foreigners obtain visas during the quarantine and coronavirus pandemic including work visas, retirement visas, marriage visas, student visas, investment visas, resident visas and expertise visas.
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. You can now register visas and obtain a cedula with Migracion offices reopening on September 21
Now that Migracion has re-opened 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 29 months, 432 visas have been successfully received by clients:
Also, our visa service renewed 55 American passports in Bogotá using our passport renewal service and provided visa stamping service to 10 clients (getting the visa in a customer’s passport who applied for a visa himself before the pandemic). In addition, 28 clients extended tourist visas using our tourist visa extension service.
So, in total we had 525 clients of the Medellin Guru visa service in 29 months.
In addition, many more visas are in process – short, medium or longer term, depending on client needs.
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
- Popular Colombian Visas for Foreigners: Which Visa is the Most Popular?
- 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 provide information about travel insurance that meets the insurance requirement for Colombian visas. And 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 2020 to ensure they are up-to-date and are being updated again in 2021. 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.
The bottom line is that normal visas are still be approved in Colombia. The visa agency we partnered with has helped many foreigners obtain visas during the coronavirus pandemic including retirement visas, marriage visas, student visas, work visas, investment visas, resident visas and expertise visas.
The Colombian visa process changes also recognize that if you obtain approval for a Colombian visa, you coudn’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 was impossible during the Colombia quarantine .
Migracion offices have been closed for over five months but they reopend on September 21. So, if you are a tourist with an expired 90-day tourist visa. you can now obtain a tourist visa extension. But you must do this before the end of October.
Also, if you have a 180-day expired tourist visa extension, you should start looking to make plans to leave Colombia.
Furthermore, if you were unable to obtain a cedula during the coronavirus pandemic, you can now obtain a cedula.
We expect that Migracion offices will soon become busy. Migracion now requires appointments, so there won’t be waiting in lines at offices with walk-ins.
Sign up for the Free Medellin Guru Newsletter – You can see all of the previous Medellin Guru weekly email newsletters and sign up here.
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.
Editors note: updated on June 10, 2020 with information that the national quarantine in Colombia has been extended to June 30 and updated information about the Medellin Guru visa service.
Editors note: updated on June 24, 2020 with information that the national quarantine in Colombia has been extended to July 15.
Editors note: updated on July 8, 2020 with information that the national quarantine in Colombia has been extended to August 1.
Editors note: updated on July 29, 2020 with information that the national quarantine in Colombia has been extended to September 1.
Editors note: updated on September 4, 2020 with current information about the coronavirus impacts on the visa process.
Editors note: updated on September 21, 2020 with information that Migraction offices reopened in Colombia on September 21.