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.
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 three universities currently offering Spanish language programs in Medellín: Universidad EAFIT located in El Poblado, Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana (UPB) located in Laureles and Universidad de Medellín in Belén. Universidad EAFIT has the most popular university Spanish program for foreigners in Medellín and Colombia.
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. Both visas 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 is now reportedly being granted for only for a maximum of six months according to visa agencies we have talked to with the possible exception of studying Spanish at Universidad EAFIT, which 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 retirement 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.
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.
- 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 8,281,160 pesos ($2,550 at an exchange rate of 3,247 pesos to the USD) in 2019. 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).
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.
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.
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 828,116 pesos per month in 2019. So, the fine is up to 5,796,812 pesos in 2019.
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 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 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.
Medellin Guru’s Comprehensive Visa 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
- 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 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. 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, universities in Colombia like Universidad EAFIT 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.
In addition, 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.
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Editors note: updated on December 16, 2017 with the cost of the new student visa.
Editors note: updated on December 31, 2017 with the new 2018 Colombia minimum wage information.
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.