Colombia’s student visa is intended for foreigners engaged in an academic program at a school in Colombia. The Colombia student visa is relatively easy to get. And a student visa is a good way to stay longer in Colombia than the six-month tourist visa permits. We provide 2021 updates to the Colombia student visa rules.
To be eligible for a student visa you need to be enrolled in a public or private educational establishment that is recognized by the Colombian government. Most universities in Colombia are approved. In addition, you need to be taking at least 10 hours of classes per week.
The Colombia student visa used to be known as the TP-3 visa. The student visa is typically valid for the time you are enrolled in an approved school. I previously had two TP-3 student visas that were valid for one-year each when I was was taking Spanish classes at Universidad EAFIT in Medellín.
There are now two types of Colombia student visas. The Migrant (M) student visa is intended for those studying a degree program, such as a bachelors degree. And the Visitor (V) student is intended for non-degree programs like studying Spanish.
Coronavirus Visa Impacts
Has the visa process changed in Colombia due to coronavirus?
Yes, the Colombian visa process had changed due to coronavirus and the quarantine in Colombia. Migracion Colombia offices were closed for over five months.
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, they have been submitting visa applications online without issues and have been receiving visa approvals since the coronavirus pandemic started.
Colombian Now Has Two Types of Student Visas
Colombia changed its Colombian visa rules in late 2017. And these new visa rules went into effect on December 15, 2017.
So, a Colombia student visa changed and is known as a Migrant (M) visa of category 9 (an M-9 visa) or as a Visitor (V) visa. Furthermore, if you have an existing TP-3 student visa, it doesn’t change to one of the new types of student visas.
The M student visa is intended for those studying a degree program, like for a bachelors degree. The V student visa is intended for non-degree programs like studying Spanish. The M student visa can be for longer than one year depending on the length of studies.
In addition, with the new M-9 or V student visas you are not permitted to work in Colombia. This is the same as the previous TP-3 student visas. Also, a M-9 visa loses its validity if you leave Colombia for over six months without returning.
The cost for the M-9 student visa is $67 USD. This is higher than the previous TP-3 student visa that cost $55. So, the visa price has increased somewhat for the new student visa.
Note the Visitor (V) student visa for studying Spanish are some some cases being granted for only for a maximum of six months according to visa agencies we have talked but some may still qualify for a year-visa.
Also, once you have a Visitor (V) visa you reportedly can no longer apply for another visa while in Colombia. To apply for another visa when you have a Visitor student visa you have to go to a foreign consulate in another country.
How to Apply for a Colombia Student Visa
You can apply for a Colombia student 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.
I successfully obtained three Colombian visas that I applied for my own in the past (including two TP-3 student visas) 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 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 Bogtoá.
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 instead of 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.
Spanish Schools in Medellín That Offer Student Visas
There are at least three universities normally offering Spanish language programs in Medellín that qualify for a student visa:
- Universidad EAFIT located in El Poblado,
- Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana (UPB) located in Laureles and
- Universidad de Medellín in Belén.
Universidad EAFIT reportedly has the largest university Spanish program for foreigners in Medellín and Colombia.
In addition, there are at least two private schools that qualify for a student visa: OLSA International and Elefun. OLSA International is offering both in-person classes and online classes during the pandemic.
Medellin Guru Partnered with OLSA International
Medellin Guru reviewed all the Spanish schools in Medellín and selected OLSA International as our recommended Spanish school partner.
Features of the OLSA Spanish School Partnership
- Ability to obtain a Colombian student visa
- Lower prices for Spanish classes than at Universities
- Only Spanish program in Colombia based on U.S. University Spanish curriculums
- Curriculum emphasizes conversational Spanish, so you learn to speak faster
- Location in Estadio is convenient to two metro stations
- Owner of OLSA is from the U.S and has 25 years of education experience in the U.S.
Documents Required for a Colombia Student Visa
Documents required for student visa are similar to the previous TP-3 student 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.
- If you’ve had a previous Colombian visa, a photocopy of this visa.
- Certificate of admission or enrollment to studies of elementary school, high school or higher education in undergraduate school authorized in Colombia.
- Photocopy of “certificate of existence and legal representation” from the university.
- Authorization of the parents and designation of the person responsible for the student during his/her stay in Colombia, authenticated by a Colombian notary or consul in the case of minors.
- International health insurance policy certificate showing you have an international health insurance policy. This policy should be valid for at least six months to a year, since the validity time of your visa is dependent on the validity time of your international health insurance. This health insurance policy should show that it has at least $35,000 USD in coverage for a Visitor student visa and $60,000 USD for a Migrant student visa. We have a separate article that looks at travel insurance that meets this requirement.
- A letter (in Spanish) from the person with economic responsibility for the student guaranteeing the expenses of the student and documents showing economic solvency. If you are the student, the letter should say you will be financially responsible for yourself while in Colombia. To show “economic solvency” you could use a bank “certificate” showing the average balance over the past six months is greater than 10 times the legal minimum wage in Colombia or 9,085,260 pesos ($2,614 at an exchange rate of 3,476 pesos to the USD) in 2021. And this certificate should be notarized and translated. Or you can provide six months of bank statements with no need for translation in my experience. Also, credit card statements which show a sufficient available balance could be used.
- 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.
Note that the student visa to study Spanish is now known as a Visitor visa (V visa).
Having an international health insurance policy is a new student visa requirement in 2020 based on the experience of the visa agency we partnered with. Once you have a visa and cedula, you qualify for Colombia’s EPS health insurance, which is believed will be sufficient for renewing a visa.
Using a Visa Agency for a Student 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 student 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 the first 22 months, 302 visas were successfully received by clients including 46 student visas for clients.
Also, our visa service renewed 32 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, 17 clients extended tourist visas using our tourist visa extension service.
So, in total we had 361 clients of the Medellin Guru visa service in the first 22 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 Colombia student 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 877,803 pesos per month in 2020. So, the fine is up to 6,144,621 pesos in 2020.
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, Migración Colombia offices have reopened in Colombia. So, it again possible to obtain a Cedula de Extranjeria.
After having a Colombian Migrant (M) visa like the M student visa for five years you are eligible to receive a Resident (R) visa in Colombia. And after having the R visa for five more years you are eligible to apply to become a Colombian citizen.
In addition, 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. 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.
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
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: How to Obtain a Colombia Student Visa
Colombia’s two types of student visas are relatively easy to get. Furthermore, schools like OLSA International in Medellín will provide the documents needed for the visa.
But the student visa is only intended for people who enrolled in a public or private educational establishment such as a university, which is approved by the Colombian government. And you must be taking at least 10 hours of classes per week.
The visa agency we partnered with has helped 45 Medellin Guru readers obtain student visas in less than two years. Click on the blue button below and that will take you to a page of the visa agency where you can obtain a quote and ask questions using a chat.
Also, be aware that Migración Colombia now reportedly checks with schools to ensure you are taking classes. And if you have a student visa and aren’t taking classes you lose the student visa. So, only get a student visa if you actually plan to take classes.
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 September 3, 2018 with both types of Colombia student visas.
Editors note: updated on April 7, 2019 with current information.
Editors note: updated on August 7, 2019 with information that the Visitor student visa for studying Spanish in Colombia in most cases is only being granted for a maximum of six months.
Editors note: updated on December 14, 2019 with information about the Mercosur agreement benefits of having Colombian citizenship.
Editors note: updated on January 10, 2020 with current information about the Colombia student visas including the new 2020 Colombia minimum wage information.
Editors note: updated on March 11, 2020 to add a new student visa requirement, which is an international health insurance policy. Also, updated the bank statement requirement with the current exchange rate.
Editors note: updated on March 30, 2020 with Colombian visa process changes due to coronavirus and the quarantines in Colombia.
Editors note: updated on April 8, 2020 to add information that the nationwide quarantine in Colombia has been extended to April 26.
Editors note: updated on April 21, 2020 with information that the national quarantine in Colombia has been extended to May 11 and international flights banned until the end of May.
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 11, 2020 with information that it is possible to obtain a student visa for virtual online classes as long as from a certified school in Colombia.
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 to add amounts of health insurance coverage needed for a student visa and updated 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 August 30, 2020 with current information regarding the quarantine impact on the Colombia student visa process.
Editors note: updated on September 22, 2020 with information that Migracion offices in Colombia reopened on September 21.
Editors note: updated on January 9, 2021 with current information about Colombia’s student visa.