According to the Colombian Secretary of Tourism, the only risk for visitors coming here is wanting to stay. And it’s true! Many foreigners are fascinated with this beautiful country for a multitude of reasons including its amazing nature, the very welcoming and kind people, the weather, multi-ethnicity, music, etc. A growing group of foreigners is also finding Colombia very attractive for its investment opportunities in businesses, agriculture and real estate – especially the ones holding dollars at the moment. Others see Colombia as a very budget-friendly destination. With the money they make or have made in their home countries, a lot of people can live like kings in Colombia. Finally, there is the group that has fallen in love with a Colombian woman or man (myself included).
If you’re looking to live in Colombia, either part or full-time, but more than 180 days per year, then you will need to have a Colombian visa allowing you to do so.
It’s no secret that many Latino countries are quite bureaucratic. Colombia is no exception. As a foreigner here, few things are more complicated or inspire bigger headaches than the process of acquiring a visa to reside in the country. Tales of people getting their applications rejected more than 10 times are common. Colombia is far from alone in this boat. Every year, countries all over the world tighten borders, complicate regulations and make it harder for people to obtain a visa. Heck, even the mother of my own children had her Danish visa rejected so I know how it feels when you’re forced to leave a place that you want to call home.
In Colombia, there are currently 19 different types of visas divided into the following categories: business, temporary, student, investor, and resident visas. All visa applications get processed by Migración in Bogota.
I know of many foreigners who have flown to Bogota, spent their entire day standing in line, jumping running through all their hoops just to have their application rejected. The good news is, that Migración Colombia has been working on speeding up the process by providing an online application form, but filling it out can be tricky. Make a tiny mistake and they will reject your visa application. Since every application has to go through a visa study before getting approved, and each study costs between $15-52 USD, it is a fast way of burning through a lot of cash if you do not get it right the first time.
A few years ago, an associate of mine, Jessy (Yessika Marin), started making visa applications for our family and friends, who were having trouble getting their visas approved. One visa led to the next, and eventually, she decided to start a business by helping foreigners get their Colombian visa. Need a certificate from the Banco de la Republica? Jessy will get it. Need an accounting balance for your business from a certified Colombia accountant? Jessy will get it. And so forth. She navigates the bureaucracy, takes care of the initial application online and a have trusted, dedicated team member in Bogota, who has been working with visa applications in Colombia for more than 10 years. With your passport in hand and a power of attorney representing your interests, he makes the trip to Migración on your behalf, saving you the time, headaches and wasted money on visa studies, airline tickets, taxies, etc.
Expect 5-10 working days from the beginning of the application until you receive your passport with your new Colombian visa.
The most requested Temporary visas are:
• TP10 for those who fell in love with Colombian Women (or man) and have gotten married.
• TP7 for investors, property owners, company owners/partners, retirees, medical treatment, independent activities.
A temporary visa is good for anywhere from 3 months to 3 years depending on the type, and they are all renewable.
You can go straight for residency when:
• Holding a TP10 visa for 3 years.
• Holding a TP3, TP4, TP5, TP7, TP9 visa for 5 years.
• Having Colombian kids.
• Buying Colombian Property in excess of 650 minimum salaries, roughly $166.000 USD (September 2017).
Cedula de Extranjería
Any visa with a duration longer than 3 months qualifies for a Colombian ID – the Cedula de Extranjería, which you will need for almost everything when living here, including opening bank accounts, utility plans, insurance, getting a driver’s license, etc.
Upon receiving your visa, you have 15 days to register it and request your Cedula de Extranjería. To register the visa, upload documentation, and book an appointment for your Cedula de Extranjería, click here.
Once presenting yourself at local immigration office (by appointment), an official will provide you with a bill to pay for the Cedula de Extranjería which currently costs $183.000 COP.
Once everything has been approved and the expenses paid, the Cedula de Extranjería can be picked up at any local Migración. They will tell you when it is ready. Cali’s Migración is located here.
In order to pick up your cedula, you will need to bring your original passport with the original visa stamped inside.
Jessy charges $350 USD for her services. On top of that comes the government fees for the application study ($15-52 USD) and the actual visa issuance ($52-385 USD), depending on the type of visa you apply for. Please note that the required documentation for every single visa type is different.
Feel free to call/whatsapp Yessika Marin on (+57) 317-404-7285 or shoot her an email to email@example.com to get started. She also works with a business lawyer that will help you to create your company if needed.
Questions are welcome. Her objective is to design the best strategy for you to get a visa. Jessy also works with a bilingual business lawyer that can help you set up your company if needed.
PS. I wrote another article about starting a business in Colombia which you might find useful as well.
(Photo credit: http://www.cancilleria.gov.co/)