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 changed its Colombian visa rules, which went into effect on December 15, 2017. So, the previous TP-4 work visa in Colombia became a Migrant (M) visa of category 5 (basically a M-5 visa) at the end of 2017.
Also, previous TP-4 work visas were valid until the visa expiration and didn’t convert to a M-5 visa. In addition, work visas are typically valid for the duration of a work contract.
Furthermore, the job activity of the foreign worker must be related to the company’s activity. This prevents a business-owning friend from doing you a favor by sponsoring you for a work visa, even though the company in realty has no need for your services.
The cost for the M-5 work visa is $282 USD including all fees. This is lower than the previous TP-4 visa which cost $304 USD.
Coronavirus Visa Impacts
Editors note on May 20: According to the Minister of transport, international flights to/from Colombia will be restricted until August 31 due to the coronavirus pandemic with a pilot of international flights resuming in September.
Also, starting on March 24, the country is in a nationwide Colombia quarantine from March 24 to September 1, 2020 when the quarantine ends. During this quarantine, the Migracion office in Colombia and Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores office in Bogotá are closed. Furthermore, the health emergency in Colombia has been extended until November 30. So, these offices may remain closed.
Has the visa process changed in Colombia due to coronavirus?
Yes, the Colombian visa process has changed due to coronavirus and the quarantine in Colombia. We have a separate article about the Colombian visa produces changes due to coronavirus.
According to ExpatGroup, the visa agency we partnered with, they are still submitting visa applications online without issues and are receiving visa approvals during the Colombia quarantine.
The visa agency we partnered with has helped many foreigners obtain visas during the quarantine including work visas, retirement visas, marriage visas, student visas, investment visas and resident visas.
However, the counting of time has been suspended for the following migration procedures that usually require a physical presence in Colombia for identity verification:
- Obtaining a cedula, either for the first time, renewal or duplication.
- Registration of a visa
- Temporary permit to stay (tourist visa extension)
- Although the initial period for a tourist visa/permit is initially for 90 days, this has been extended to protect foreign tourist. So, tourists are not subject to migratory irregularity or future sanctions due to the quarantine.
- Certificate of migratory movements.
The above procedures cannot be carried out at this time due to Migracion offices being closed during the quarantine. However, the counting of days or periods for these procedures has been suspected so it does not impact foreigners. And these procedures can be carried out when Migracion offices reopen.
How to Apply for a Colombia Work Visa
You can apply for a Colombia work 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. You used to be able to apply for visas in person here. But now all visa applications must be done online.
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 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 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.
Documents Required for a Colombia Work Visa
Documents required for the M-5 work visa include:
- 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.
- Apostilled academic degree from the country of origin, as well as experience certificates also apostilled. Subsequently, in Colombia an official translation into Spanish must be made.
- International health insurance policy certificate showing you have an international health insurance policy that covers you. This policy should be valid for at least 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 $60,000 USD in coverage. We have a separate article that looks at inexpensive travel insurance that meets this requirement.
- 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.
In the case of working for a business, you also need:
- 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. The minimum salary in Colombia is 877,803 pesos per month in 2020. And 100 times this is 877,803,000 pesos.
- Last year’s income statement of the business.
- Certificate of suitability of the foreigner and relevance of the contract, issued by the company.
- Academic support of the visa applicant, which agrees with the position to be performed (in the case of having them).
In the case of working for a person, you also need:
- Bank statements of the employer corresponding to the six months prior to the visa application. The natural person employer must demonstrate average monthly income of 10 times the legal monthly minimum wages during the six months prior to the application. The minimum salary in Colombia is 877,803 pesos per month in 2020. And 10 times this is 8,778,030 pesos.
- Unique Tax Registry RUT.
- Chamber of Commerce updated.
- Copy of employer’s cedula.
- Certificate of suitability of the foreigner and relevance of the contract, issued by the employer.
- Academic information of the visa applicant, which corresponds with the position to be performed (in the case of having this).
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 Colombia 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.
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 18 months, 248 visas were successfully received by clients including 9 work visas.
Also, our visa service provided visa stamping service to 10 clients (getting the visa in a customer’s passport who applied for a visa himself) and renewed 24 American passports in Bogotá using our passport renewal service. So, in total we had 282 clients of the Medellin Guru visa service in the first 18 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 work visa approval, 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. 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 work 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.
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. 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
- 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 early 2019 to ensure they are up-to-date and were updated again in early 2020. In addition, all visa articles on this website will be kept up-to-date as new details are disclosed.
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.
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Editors note: updated on January 3, 2019 with the new 2019 Colombia minimum wage information.
Editors note: updated on April 9, 2019 with with current information and added additional documents required for the work visa.
Editors note: updated on December 14, 2019 with information about the Mercosur agreement benefits of having Colombian citizenship.
Editors note: updated on January 11, 2020 with current information including the new 2020 Colombia minimum wage information.
Editors note: updated on March 10, 2020 to add new work visa requirements including an apostilled academic degree and experience certificates also apostilled.
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 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 30, 2020 with information that the national quarantine in Colombia has been extended to July 15 and added information about inexpensive travel insurance that meets the health insurance requirement for this visa.
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 26, 2020 with current information regarding the quarantine impact on the Colombia visa process for Colombia work visas.