COLOMBIA – Significant Changes to Immigration System
On August 2nd the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Relations published a resolution that establishes a new system of visa categories and implements new immigration requirements. Resolution 6045/2017 is anticipated to go into effect on December 14, 2017, 90 business days after the date of publication. Colombian visas issued prior to that date will remain valid for their full validity period and according to the conditions set forth by prior regulations.
Three main visa categories
Multiple subcategories of visas will be soon grouped into three main ones, as follows:
- Visitor visa (Type V): This visa category will include visitors traveling for tourism, business, seminars, training, medical treatment, and short-term services. Visitor visas may be granted with validity of up to two years, for multiple entries.
- Migrant visa (Type M): This visa category will apply to foreign nationals planning to remain in the country for longer periods of time and will include spouses or partners of Colombian citizens, foreign nationals employed by a Colombian entity, investors, students, refugees, or individuals subject to Mercosur based reciprocity agreements. Migrant visas may be granted with validity of up to three years, for multiple entries.
- Residence visa (Type R): This type of visa may be granted to foreign nationals intending to reside permanently in Colombia. Examples of qualifying foreign nationals include certain qualifying family members that have resided in the country under type M visa status for two years, foreign nationals who qualify under Mercosur reciprocity agreements, or foreign nationals who have held temporary work visa status for five years. Residence visas will be granted with an indefinite validity period, for multiple entries.
Changes in immigration requirements
Resolution 6045/2017 repeals Resolution 5512/2015, which established the current Colombian visa categories and requirements. It will also enforce procedures recently published by other resolutions as a collaborative effort to strengthen immigration regulations and streamline the immigration processes in Colombia. We highlight some of the important changes that would most affect Foster LLP’s clients:
- Work permits: The concept of a work permit issued independent of a visa is new. Colombian authorities may grant work permits to foreign nationals in any of the three main visa categories. This means that some travelers under a Visitor visa (Type V) may be allowed to provide work services depending on the circumstances and nature of the work.
- Shortened deadline for visa stamping: Under the new resolution, a foreign national will now have 30 days from the date an electronic visa has been approved, rather than the previous deadline of two (2) months, to request a physical visa stamp in his or her passport.
- Proof of financial solvency for Colombian entities sponsoring work visas: Under the new resolution, a Colombian entity that sponsors a work visa must now show a significantly higher bank account balance for each month within the six (6) months prior to filing.
- Definition of activities for temporary technical services with or without a Colombian work contract (formerly TP-13 work visa): The new resolution does not specifically address the activities and conditions previously established under the TP-13 visa. It is expected that temporary technical services in Colombia will be allowed under a subcategory of the Type V visa. The Colombian Ministry of Foreign Relations is expected to provide additional guidance on this specific matter.
- Signed contract summary form and employment contract required: Foreign nationals who will be placed on Colombian payroll will now require a signed contract summary form as well as the signed employment contract as part of the visa application process. Prior to resolution 6045/2017, Colombian entities had the opportunity to execute work contracts after a visa had been approved and issued by a Colombia consular post by presenting only the signed summary work contract form. Colombian entities and foreign nationals must now have these two documents aligned and signed prior to the application for a work visa.
- Validity of Documents: All supporting documents required under each visa category must now be presented to Colombian authorities within three (3) months from the date of issuance. Foreign nationals applying for a visa are encouraged to begin the processes to obtain new certified copies of vital records at the earliest opportunity.