The Colombia resident visa is intended for foreigners who wish to live full-time in Colombia.
Colombia is in the process of changing its Colombian visa rules, which reportedly goes into effect on December 15, 2017. So, the existing resident (RE) visa in Colombia will become an R visa.
The cost for the new R visa is $443 USD, which is higher than the previous RE visa, which was $435 USD. So, the new Colombia resident visa cost is somewhat higher.
The New Resident (R) Colombian Visa
The new resident (R) visa, which will be offered in December in Colombia is similar to the current RE visa. There are five categories of the new 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 migrant (M) visa category 1 to 3 visa continuously and uninterrupted for two years. The category M-1 visa is a marriage visa.
- Has continuously and uninterrupted held for five years a M visa in category 4 to 11, which includes retirement, work and student visas.
- Investment of over 650 times the minimum monthly wage in Colombia. The minimum wage in 2018 in Colombia is 781,242 pesos per month. So, 650 times this is 507,807,300 pesos or $159,839 at the exchange rate of 3,000 pesos to the USD.
These are essentially the same categories as the exiting RE visa with the same requirements.
The current RE visa rules require TP-10 marriage visa holders to hold the visa three years before becoming eligible for a RE visa. According to Resolution 6045, this drops to two years for holders of a M category 1 visa (marriage visa) before becoming eligible for a R visa.
In addition, similar to the existing RE visa, if you leave Colombia for more than two years with an R visa, the visa expires and is no longer valid. Also, you are permitted to work in Colombia with an R visa.
According to Resolution 6045 Article 25, the validity period of the R visa will be five years and may be renewed for an equal period via a “visa transfer procedure”.
How to Apply for a Colombia Resident Visa
You can apply for a Colombia resident visa in-person in Bogotá. 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. Also, it’s done online. You can apply for a Colombia resident 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.
Documents required for new R resident visa are similar to the current resident visa:
- Photocopy of the first page of your valid passport where your personal data is displayed.
- Photocopy of the page of your passport with the last stamp of entry or departure of Colombia is located.
- Photocopies of your previous TP or M visa(s) if applying based on length of time holding these visas.
- Migratory Movement Certificate issued by Colombia Migration, dated within three months of the visa application
- If you are receiving the R visa due to being married to a Colombian after three years with a TP-10 visa or two years with the new M-1 visa then you need a notarized letter signed by the spouse or permanent partner who is a Colombian national requesting the issuance of the R visa along a copy of the Colombian national’s cedula.
- If you are receiving the R visa due to being the parent of a Colombian child, a copy of the Colombian birth certificate of whom the foreigner is a father must be provided. In addition, a letter must be provided signed by the other parent, stating that the foreigner visa applicant is fully complying with corresponding food obligations. Or if the child is of legal age, the letter should be from the child requesting the issuance of the visa along with a copy of the child’s cedula.
- If you are receiving the R visa due to investment then you must provide a communication issued by the Department of International Exchange of the Bank of the Republic that records the direct foreign investment in your name with an amount greater than 650 times than minimum monthly wage.
- Passport style face photo with a white background, sized at 3 cm width X 4 cm height, maximum size of 300 kb jpg file for online application.
After receiving the online visa approval, if doing this in Colombia, you need to travel to Bogotá to get the visa in your passport.
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 7:30am until noon.
I successfully obtained three different Colombian visas on my own over the past five years. Also, I found the process relatively straightforward without much documentation required.
Using a Visa Agency for a Resident 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 Colombian resident visa. A visa agency can handle the online application. And it will courier your passport to Bogotá to get the visa in your passport.
You can find visa agencies in several cities in Colombia. For example, there are at least three visa agencies in Medellín:
Getting a Colombian Cedula
After you have successfully received your Colombia resident 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 (up to 5,164,019 pesos in 2017).
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)
After having an R resident visa for five years (or two years if married to a Colombian) you can apply to become a citizen of Colombia. And you won’t have to give up your existing citizenship. Colombia permits dual-citizenship, as does the U.S. and many other countries. But if while you have the R visa you are out of the country for more than a year then you reportedly aren’t eligible for citizenship.
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 some counties as a Colombian citizen without a visa such as Russia and Brazil, which require a visa for U.S. citizens.
To become a citizen, Colombia requires a citizenship test, just like the U.S. does. 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.
The Bottom Line: Obtaining a Colombia Resident Visa
Colombia’s resident visa is relatively easy to get with few documents needed. But the resident visa requires several years with the new Migrant (M) visa or former temporary (TP) visas unless you are the parent of a Colombian child or invest sufficient funds to qualify as a resident visa.
The visa costs in Colombia are lower than in many other countries in Latin America. Also, the Colombian visa process is streamlined with online applications and is relatively fast.
The Colombian visa changes that went into effect in mid-December 2017 are significant. We have covered the 2017 visa updates for five additional visas:
- Colombia retirement visa
- Colombia marriage visa
- Colombia student visa
- Colombia work visa
- Colombia investment visa
In addition, all visa articles on this website will be kept up-to-date as new details are disclosed.
Editors note: updated on December 16, 2017 with the cost of the new resident visa.
Editors note: updated on December 31, 2017 with the new 2018 Colombia minimum wage information.