We look at the most popular Colombian visas for foreigners based on the experience of over 450 Medellin Guru readers. Which visa is the most popular?
We previously provided 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.
But even with this guide and over 20 visa articles, we get many questions from Medellin Guru readers about which visas are most popular for foreigners.
So, in this article we look at the most popular Colombian visas for foreigners based on the experience of over 450 Medellin Guru readers who received Colombian visas through our visa partnership.
Popular Colombian Visas for Foreigners: Which Visa is the Most Popular?
These three Colombian visas represent 78.8 percent of visa received by readers with the retirement visa being the most popular.
Next in polarity are the resident visa, investment visa and work visa. The least common visas are the beneficiary visa, Mercosur visa, rentista visa and visitors visas (except for the student visitor visa for studying Spanish)
The Medellin Guru visa service was launched in March 2019. And in the first 30 months, 454 visas have been successfully received by Medellin Guru readers:
- 160 Retirement visas
- 121 Marriage/partner visas
- 76 Student visas (visitor visas)
- 32 Resident visas
- 22 Investment visas
- 13 Work visas
- 4 Mercosur (M) visas
- 4 Beneficiary visas
- 4 Rentista visas
- 18 other visas
Why is the Retirement Visa the Most Popular Visa for Foreigners?
Each year Medellín continues to attract more foreign retirees with its low cost of living, “eternal spring” climate and good healthcare with nine of the top 58 hospitals in Latin America.
I previously wrote about 27 reasons why I chose to live in Medellín. We have a separate article that looks at 12 reasons why Medellín is a top foreign retirement location.
The retirement publications have ranked Medellín as one of the top foreign retirement locations. But the retirement publications sometime rank Medellín lower than other places. We previously looked at why the retirement publications frequently get Medellín and Colombia wrong.
Medellin Guru has compared living in Medellin with living in several popular foreign retirement locations and we found that Medellín compares very well to other foreign retirement locations and has beat every place we have compared so far.
- Medellín vs Cuenca – two top foreign retirement locations in Colombia and Ecuador.
- Medellín vs Algarve – two top foreign retirement locations in Colombia and Portugal.
- Medellín vs Chiang Mai – two top foreign retirement locations in Colombia and Thailand.
- Medellín vs Valletta – two top foreign retirement locations in Colombia and Malta.
- Medellín vs Panama City – two top foreign retirement locations.
- Medellín vs Costa Rica – two top foreign retirement locations.
- Medellín vs Belize – two top foreign retirement locations.
- Medellín vs Mazatlán – two top foreign retirement locations in Colombia and Mexico.
- Medellín vs Puerto Vallarta – two popular retirement locations in Colombia and Mexico.
- Medellín vs Mexico City – comparing the cities in Colombia and Mexico.
- Medellín vs Rio de Janeiro – comparing two cities in Colombia and Brazil.
- Medellín vs Fortaleza – comparing two cities in Colombia and Brazil.
- Medellín vs Lima – two top foreign retirement locations in Colombia and Peru.
- Medellín vs Buenos Aires – comparing the cities in Colombia and Argentina.
- Medellín vs Santiago – comparing the cities in Colombia and Chile.
Coronavirus Visa Impacts
Has the visa process changed in Colombia due to coronavirus?
Migracion Colombia offices in Colombia were closed for over five months during the pandemic. However, Migracion Colombia offices reopened on September 21 with a resumption of services. So, it is now possible to obtain tourist visa extensions and cedulas for foreigners.
On September 21, 2020, Migración Colombia reopened it offices in Colombia and restarted operations for the following services:
- Issuance of the Alien Identification Card Cédula de Extranjería and its duplicate,
- Foreign Registration for both minors and adults,
- Certificates of Migratory Movements,
- Certificate of Migratory Movements and Nationality,
- Safe conduct (Salvoconductos) SC-1 and SC-2,
- Temporary Permits of Stay (PTP) for extensions of stay in the national territory and a category change,
- PEP-FF – this is for Venezuelan citizens.
According to ExpatGroup, the visa agency we partnered with, during to pandemic they have been submitting visa applications online without issues and have been receiving visa approvals for over five months during the coronavirus pandemic.
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 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.
Visas in Colombia are issued at the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores office in Bogotá. This is located at Avenida 19 # 98-03, Torre 100 Building, 3rd Floor. It’s open from 7:30 am until noon. But now all visa applications must be done online. And the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores office has been closed during the pandemic.
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 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.
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 even be cheaper than the cost of a trip to Bogotá.
So, for my latest visa received in 2018, a Colombia resident visa, I used a visa agency. And I found the experience painless and now highly recommend using a visa service over doing a Colombia visa application yourself. The bottom line is with a visa agency you are less likely to run into problems and you can avoid a trip to Bogotá.
Using a Visa Agency for a Colombian Visa
If you are in Colombia and not located in Bogotá and you don’t want to travel, you can use a visa agency to obtain a Colombia expertise visa. A visa agency can handle the online application. And it will courier your passport to Bogotá to get the visa in your passport.
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 30 months, 454 visas 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 547 clients of the Medellin Guru visa service in 30 months.
In addition, many more visas are in process – short, medium or longer term, depending on client needs.
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.
Our visa partnership is an affiliate relationship (like the Amazon affiliate program). If you use our visa partner, Medellin Guru receives a small commission and you support the website. This is at no additional cost to you. The price remains the same, whether you use a button or affiliate link on this website or not.
Furthermore, the visa agency we partnered with offers visa services anywhere in Colombia. So, if you are located in another city in Colombia you can use this service.
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, normally 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 908,526 pesos per month in 2021. So, the fine is up to 6,359,682 pesos in 2021. But this fine did not apply during the quarantine.
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)
A complete list of the Migración Colombia offices is found here. In addition, we have a guide to applying for a Cedula Extranjeria in Colombia. Starting on September 21, 2020, Migración Colombia offices have reopened in Colombia. So, it again possible to obtain a Cedula de Extranjeria.
After having a migrant (M) expertise visa or other M visas for five years you are eligible to receive a resident (R) visa. And after having an R visa for five additional years you can apply to become a citizen of Colombia. This time to being eligible for citizenship is shorter if you are married to a Colombian. First two years with a M visa and then two years with an R visa.
Also, you won’t have to give up your existing citizenship. Colombia permits dual-citizenship, as does the U.S. and many other countries.
Once you become a dual citizen with Colombian citizenship, you will no longer need to deal with visas anymore. Also, you will be able to travel to a few counties as a Colombian citizen without a visa such as Russia, which require a visa for U.S. citizens.
Also, if you have Colombian citizenship, this benefits you with the Mercosur trade block. Nationals of Member States (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) and Associated States (Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru) do not need a passport or visa to travel around the region, with only a national identity card required.
In addition, the Mercosur Agreement grants the right to residence and work for citizens with no requirement other than nationality. Citizens of the Member States and Associated States that are part of the agreement enjoy a facilitated procedure for applying for a residence visa, as long as they have a valid passport, birth certificate and a negative certificate of criminal record.
To become a citizen, Colombia requires a citizenship test, just like the U.S. does. And you will be required to pass a test related to Colombian history, geography and the constitution. Also, a basic Spanish oral test is required. Those who have a bachelor’s degree from a Colombian university or are over 65 years old are exempt from these tests.
Furthermore, a complete list of the requirements for Colombian citizenship is found on the Cancillería website here.
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
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: Popular Colombian Visas for Foreigners – Which Visa is the Most Popular?
Medellin Guru has received hundreds of visa questions over the past three years. So, we have a comprehensive series of over 20 up-to-date visa and passport articles that should answer most questions. Also, we partnered with a visa agency that can answer your visa questions.
The visa agency we partnered with has helped 554 Medellin Guru readers iobtain visas, tourist visa extensions and U.S. passport renewals.
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Editors note: updated on October 8, 2021 with updated statistics for visas obtained by Medellin Guru readers.