Effective December 15, Colombia will officially change its visa-issuing framework to streamline and simplify the process. In a departure from the complex array of categories that existed under the prior Colombian visa system, the updated rule includes three classifications for foreigners entering the country: “V” for the visitor visa, “M” for the migrant visa, and “R” for the resident visa.
Despite the elimination of the many enumerated visa subcategories, distinct rules still apply within these three new categories based upon the grounds on which the visa is sought through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also known as the Cancilleria.
The “V” visitor visa category applies to people temporarily staying in Colombia for a variety of listed activities, including transit, tourism, and some programs of study. Certain employment and business activities are also covered.
A 180-day stay limit (during any one calendar year) applies to visas issued for activities such as investing, creating a company, executing contracts, and tourism. Stay limits of different lengths apply as to visa holders undertaking certain other activities.
Permission to work also varies depending on the underlying circumstances. Many “V” visa holders are prohibited from working, some are able to do so in connection with the project that was the basis for visa issuance, and others may receive an open work permit. Such restrictions depend upon the individual’s plans during their stay.
The second visa category, the “M” migrant visa, also covers a wide range of circumstances. It is available for spouses and parents of adopted Colombian nationals, business owners, investors, pension holders, long-term employees, refugees, and primary, secondary and undergraduate students.
This M visa is generally approved for a duration of three years, although the period may be shorter when granted in conjunction with a specific contract or program of study.
Permission to work while on this visa type also varies. Land investors and pensioners, for example, are prohibited from working. Employees, other professionals, and business owners are generally limited to working only within their established positions, professions, or businesses.
Finally, the “R” resident visa category applies for people including biological parents of Colombian nationals, Colombians who had renounced their citizenship, and holders of certain migrant visas that have remained in Colombia for the requisite number of years.
Resident visas provide open work permission and are valid five years. They contain no maximum “permanency limitation” within that period, but they will expire if the holder remains outside of Colombia for two continuous years.
This new framework has been enacted according to the scheme set forth by the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on August 2 in its “Resolution 6045.” It revamps the system that had been operating under the ministry’s “Resolution 5512,” which dates back to September 2015.
Visas issued under the prior framework remain valid for their stated duration and under their original issuing conditions.
Humberto Rodríguez G. is an accountant, lawyer, partner, and general manager of Rodríguez Asociados Abogados y Contadores SAS. The proven Medellín-based firm has experience providing advisory services on a broad range of matters, including general business, corporations, contracts, investments, employment, finance, and taxation. For more information, connect with Rodríguez through the firm’s website, Facebook, or email at mailto:[email protected]
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