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A COMPLETE GUIDE ON HOW TO GET YOUR COLOMBIAN VISA

DETERMINING YOUR COLOMBIAN VISA TYPE: A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE

With 4.5 million visitors annually, Colombia is a magnet for travelers and expats alike. If you’re looking to join this growing number, getting to know the Colombian migratory process will probably be your first task. 

The question, “What are the different types of visas for foreigners in Colombia?” is actually one of the most queries we get here at Nexo Legal.

It’s important to understand that there is a range of visa options, each tailored to different purposes of visit or stay and each with its own set of specific requirements.

We have developed a guide that will take you through the step-by-step process of determining which Colombian visa may best fit your needs. Let’s dive in.

 

Step 1: What’s your nationality?

When visiting Colombia as a tourist, you may be granted a stay of up to 90 days, depending on your country of origin. 

Know that this isn’t an actual visa but rather a tourist permit. 

This permit is available to the citizens of the United States, Canada, most EU countries, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and more. You can find the whole list here.

Note: The citizens of these countries are also eligible to apply for a Visitor (V) – Digital Nomad Visa.

If you’re in Colombia on a tourist permit and wish to stay beyond 90 days, manage your stay carefully. Overstaying the period specified on your passport’s entry stamp could lead to fines or even deportation. However, there are ways to extend the tourist permit. 

how to get colombian visa
how to get colombian visa

The permit can be extended by up to another 90 days (180 days in total), either in-person at an immigration office or by applying digitally through the Migración Colombia website

Another way to access another 90 days is simply by leaving the country and re-entering.

Never forget that as a tourist, you can only stay in Colombia for up to 180 days in any calendar year. 

You can enter the country as many times as you want, as long as you don’t exceed the days you are allowed to be in the country.

If a tourist permit is not applicable to your situation, possibly because your country isn’t listed as eligible or your reasons for visiting Colombia extend beyond tourism, then you can pursue an official Colombian visa

 

Certain Migrant (M) visas can also be obtained solely based on your nationality:

M Visa - Mercosur: This visa is for the citizens of the Mercosur economic bloc countries (Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Peru, Ecuador, Chile, and Bolivia).

M Visa - Andean Migrant: This visa allows citizens of the Andean region (Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia) to travel and work freely in Colombia.

Step 2: What country are you currently in?

When it comes to applying for an official Colombian visa, you can start your visa application whether you’re in your country of origin, your current country of residence, or even within Colombia. 

Note that you should not leave the country where you submit your application until the Ministry of Foreign Affairs makes a final decision. Leaving prematurely may be interpreted as a withdrawal of your application.



Step 3: What’s the purpose of your stay?

 

Are you visiting for tourism, business, work, study, retirement, investment, or something else? And how long are you planning to stay? Determining the purpose and duration of your stay in Colombia are key factors that will affect the type of visa that’s right for you.

It’s always helpful to familiarize yourself with the main categories of Colombia visas, their purposes, requirements, and durations. 

Here is a general overview:

how to get colombian visa

Visitor Visa (V)

The Visitor visa is designed for those foreigners who visit the country temporarily and carry out a specific range of activities. 

These include tourism and vacation, studying Spanish, airport transit, business (events, conferences, and seminars without the passport holder being employed), short-term academic exchange programs, training in arts, trades, or postgraduate courses, medical treatment, film or audiovisual production, journalistic work, FTA business, unaccredited officers, promotion of internationalization, annuity, inter-corporate transfers, administrative and/or judicial procedures, religious activities, volunteering, and even being boat/cruise crew.

The Visitor visa can be issued for a maximum of two years. 

You can reapply when it expires.

There are various subcategories of the V visa: Visa V – Digital Nomad, Visa V – Tourism, Visa V – Business Processes, Visa V – Student, Visa V – Medical treatments, Visa V – Administrative procedures, Visa V – Event participant, Visa V – Volunteer, Visa V – Journalistic coverage, Visa V – Temporary Services Provider, Visa V – Annuity, Visa V – Religious. 

 

Migrant Visa (M)

The Migrant visa is suitable for foreigners who wish to enter or stay in Colombia to establish themselves long-term and eventually obtain a residency.

This visa type can be issued for a maximum of three years. You can reapply when it expires, except for the Mercosur and Andean Migrant subcategories.

The M visa also has many subcategories: Visa M – Marriage, Visa M – Common law partnership, Visa M – Parent of Colombian National, Visa M – Mercosur, Visa M – Andean Visa, Visa M – Worker, Visa M – Business owner/shareholder, Visa M – Independent Professional, Visa M – Retirement, Visa M – Real Estate Investor, Visa M – Refugee, Visa M – Beneficiary. 



Resident Visa (R)

The Resident visa is designed for foreigners intending to live in Colombia indefinitely, whether they aim to settle permanently or establish their domicile in the country.

The R visa can be issued for five years at a time. You can reapply when it expires.

The most common subcategory is Visa R – Colombia Residency (accumulated permanence time in Colombia). The three others include Renouncing Colombian Nationality, the Temporary Protection Status for Venezuelan Migrants, and Special Peace Residents.



Step 4: What’s the duration of your stay?

“How long can I stay in Colombia as a foreigner?” is a common question with a variable answer. If you’re looking for a short-term visa (less than two years) for staying in Colombia, the most suitable option is the Visitor visa. 

The most common short-stay visas that foreigners apply for in Colombia are:

 

V - Student Visa: This is a practical option for those looking to study in Colombia for a short period, such as enrolling in a Spanish language course.

Eligibility for application requires proof of enrollment from an accredited institution and sufficient funds to cover your study program.

V - Digital Nomad Visa: Tailored for remote workers employed by companies outside Colombia, this new visa requires applicants to have an income equivalent to at least three times the current minimum legal monthly wage (SMMLV), which currently amounts to $3,900,000 COP (approximately $991 USD).

This income level should be maintained for at least the last three months prior to applying.

V - Service Provider Visa: This option is for foreigners with a service contract with a Colombian company.

It's crucial that the Colombian company employing you demonstrates a monthly income exceeding $130,000,000 COP.

For your visa application, you will need to submit bank statements covering the last six months.

V - Tourism Visa: This visa is suitable for those who want to visit Colombia and whose nationality isn’t on the list of countries exempt from visa requirements.

how to get colombian visa
how to get colombian visa

If you are considering a long-term visa for a stay of over two years, migrant visas are the ideal choice. 

Start by checking if you have family ties with any Colombian nationals. If such connections exist, you may be eligible for the following migrant visa options:

 

M - Parent of a Colombian National: This category is designed for foreign parents of Colombian citizens, enabling them to live and work in Colombia for an extended period.

To be eligible, the foreign parent must have a child who is a Colombian citizen, either by birth or adoption.

A key requirement for this visa is that the Colombian child must reside in Colombia, as the visa's primary purpose is family reunification.

This visa can be issued for a duration of up to three years.

M - Marriage Visa: This visa is available for up to three years and allows the holder to apply for residency after this period.

Applicants must provide evidence of their marriage and additional proof to verify the authenticity of the relationship.

These documents are to be submitted to the ministry for approval.

M - Permanent Partner Visa: To be eligible, applicants must have formalized their de facto marital union for at least one year.

The visa is issued for one year and paves the way for residency application after five years.

This implies that applicants must renew this visa five times before applying for permanent residency in Colombia.

If you don’t have a Colombian family member or a spouse but still want to pursue a long-term stay in the country, some other common options include:

 

M - Real Estate Investor Visa: This visa is for those who invest in real estate valued at more than 350 times the Colombian minimum wage.

If you're aiming to use this visa as a pathway to residency, which can be applied for after five consecutive years, it's crucial to consider the yearly increases in the Colombian minimum wage.

For your investment to qualify, it must be registered as foreign direct investment, meaning the property purchase should occur before you achieve tax residency status (residing in Colombia for more than 183 days in 365 days).

When opting for this visa, ensure the funds are transferred correctly to comply with application requirements and conduct thorough due diligence on the property to secure a safe investment.

M - Visa for Business Owner or Partner in a Colombian Business: This visa is eligible for those who invest in either their own or an existing Colombian business, equivalent to at least 100 minimum wages.

Proper planning is essential for correctly registering funds in the business, per the ministry's requirements.

This visa category can be granted for up to three years and contributes towards the five years required to apply for a residency visa in Colombia.

M - Retirement Visa: This visa is aimed at retired individuals who receive a pension from a state entity or private fund exceeding three times the minimum wage.

Applicants must present a criminal record certificate from judicial, police, or penal authorities from any country where they have lived in the past three years.

This certificate needs to be translated and apostilled.

A medical certificate from Colombian authorities also requires demonstrating the applicant's psychophysical fitness.

If obtained abroad, this certificate must be notarized and apostilled or legalized.

This visa can be issued for up to three years and contributes towards the five years required to apply for a residency visa in Colombia.

M - Work Visa: This visa is for those with an employment contract with a Colombian company. While its requirements are similar to those of the service provider visa, the key distinction is the nature of the contract—in this instance, an employment agreement is necessary.

To qualify, the Colombian company employing you should demonstrate a monthly income exceeding $130,000,000 COP.

The application process requires the submission of the company's bank statements from the past six months.

Whether you require assistance with legal, accounting, and tax matters for your Colombian business venture or need support with additional documentation, we are happy to help.

When it comes to the Residency visa, the only way to currently obtain it is by holding a Migrant visa continuously for a specific period without any breaks. 

It’s also worth noting that if you’re planning a long-term stay in Colombia, handling your visa responsibly is crucial, as any misuse can impact your future visa applications. 



Common missteps that could affect subsequent visa applications include:

Student Visa: Not attending the registered course.

Investor Visa: Selling the invested property and removing the funds from Colombia.

Marriage Visa: Divorcing after obtaining the visa.

Partner Visa: Dissolving the partnership or lacking verifiable business activities.

Work Visa: Ending employment without appropriately canceling the visa.

Step 5: Do you have a trusted migration lawyer?

An experienced legal expert can assist in navigating the Colombian visa process. They can evaluate your situation and offer tailored guidance to help you choose and apply for the visa that best matches your needs and circumstances. This step can ensure a smooth and successful visa application process.

At Nexo Legal, we’re happy to guide you through your visa process.

Step 6: Do you have the required documentation?

Before starting your Colombian visa application process, it’s vital to confirm you meet the basic eligibility criteria. There tend to be three key requirements applicable to all visa types:



Valid Passport:

Ensure your passport is current and valid.

Financial Means:

You should have sufficient funds to support your stay.

Clean Criminal Record:

A record free of major legal issues is mandatory.

Now, it’s time to assemble all the necessary documents for your Colombian visa application. Every Colombian visa category requires you to present a valid passport, a passport-sized digital photo, and—unless it’s a family-ties visa—a proof of your financial stability.

Beyond these general requirements, each visa type demands its own additional documents. Depending on whether you’re applying for a student, work, or investment visa, you’ll need to gather everything from support letters to health policies and various certificates. Check out our Colombian visa page for a comprehensive overview.

The fee for your visa application is divided into two parts: processing and issuance. These fees will vary depending on the type of visa you’re applying for. As for the approval timeline, a Colombian visa application generally takes up to 30 days to be approved, although the Ministry may take additional time if necessary.

When navigating the Colombian visa process, a question might be on your mind: “What’s the easiest way to get a visa in Colombia?” While each visa type has its requirements, visas for tourism or short-term study generally tend to have more straightforward application processes. At Nexo Legal, we understand that “easy” is relative to each applicant’s unique situation. Our team is ready to guide you toward the best visa option. Get started today.



Get started with a free case assessment ​

What will happen after you fill out this form? ​

After submitting the form, your case undergoes a comprehensive review by our team of specialist to assess its viability. Providing clear and concise information about your objectives accelerates this process.

Subsequently, a specialist will be assigned to your case, reaching out to you within a day to clear up details about your case and outline the next steps to help you achieve your goals.

Get started with a free case assessment ​

What will happen after you fill out this form? ​

After submitting the form, your case undergoes a comprehensive review by our team of specialist to assess its viability. Providing clear and concise information about your objectives accelerates this process.

Subsequently, a specialist will be assigned to your case, reaching out to you within a day to clear up details about your case and outline the next steps to help you achieve your goals.

Connect with us

Phone: (+57) 315 3354174

direccioncomercial@nexo.legal

Calle 11 no. 43b – 50,

Parque Empresarial Calle Once

Oficina 407

Medellín, Colombia

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