The Colombia work visa is intended for foreigners who have a job in Colombia. And the visa is relatively easy to get once you have found a job 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 TP-4 work visa in Colombia will become a Migrant (M) visa of category 5 (basically a M-5 visa).
Also, existing TP-4 work visas are valid until the visa expiration and don’t convert to a M-5 visa. In addition, work visas are typically valid for the duration of a work contract.
The cost for the new M-5 work visa is $282 USD. This is lower than the previous TP-4 visa which cost $304 USD.
How to Apply for a Colombia Work Visa
You can apply for a Colombia work 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 M-5 work visa are similar to the current TP-4 work 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.
- Summary format of work contract established by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The visa authority may demand the presentation of the original work contract when the information registered in the form is not sufficient, presents inconsistencies or requires clarification.
- Letter of motivation from the employer.
- Bank statements of the employer corresponding to the six months prior to the visa application. The employer must demonstrate average monthly income of 100 times the legal monthly minimum wages during the six months prior to the application when it is a legal entity. In the case of a natural person, you must show average monthly income of 10 legal monthly minimum wages.
- 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 7:30 am 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 Work 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 work 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 work 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 work 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 a migrant (M) work visa 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. And 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.
Furthermore, a complete list of the requirements for Colombian citizenship is found on the Cancillería website here.
The Bottom Line: Obtaining a Colombia Work Visa
Colombia’s work visa is relatively easy to get with few documents needed. But the work visa requires finding a job in Colombia before you can apply.
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 resident 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 work visa.