Log in


Immigration Policy for Colombia

For people who want to move to Columbia, there’s no time like the present to start the process of learning about the country and figuring out what it will take to actually get there. After all, the sooner they begin, the sooner they will find themselves enjoying life in Colombia.

Here’s what people who want to live in Colombia need to know before they go. Then, they can decide if they want to begin their immigration process today.

Immigrating to Colombia

People who move to Colombia intending to set up a new life there long-term are considered immigrants. They are generally distinguished from visitors. People who are visiting a country usually know when they intend to return home, while most immigrants don’t know if they will ever live anywhere other than that country again.

Immigrants set up brand new lives for themselves in their adopted countries. They make new friends, set up new business connections, learn to celebrate new holidays, and more. They also do practical things like set up new bank and investment accounts, enroll their children in local schools, and find long-term housing in their new locale.

Reasons to Immigrate to Colombia

People move to Colombia for so many good reasons. Many of them have more than one reason for making such a major move. Here are some of the most popular reasons why expatriates choose Colombia as their new home. 

  • Colombia is inexpensive. People can live well in Colombia for much less than it costs them to live well in other places. This makes Colombia perfect for retirees and digital nomads who are building a business.
  • They want to study in Colombia. Colombia has higher educational opportunities as well as a number of language schools. Students can get into a program, then use that to get their visa to enter the country.
  • Colombia is easily accessible from North America. There are a good number of flights from Colombia to a wide variety of destinations all over North America. This makes it great for people from those countries and for those who want to explore them without paying what it costs to live there.
  • There is work in Colombia. More and more people are moving to Colombia because they found jobs there. The country is up-and-coming, so many businesses are looking to bring in foreign talent.
  • They have family in Colombia. People who have previously left Colombia often choose to move back to be close to the family they left behind.
  • Colombia is safer than their home country. People who are experiencing persecution or danger at home may choose a move to Colombia over remaining in their country of origin.

How to Immigrate to Colombia

There are 21 different types of visas that expats can use to enter Colombia, and many of these have sub-types. While this offers a wide variety of people the chance to enter and live in the country, it can make finding the right visa confusing. Many people choose to work with an attorney experienced in Colombian immigration law to make sure they get the right visa for their needs.

Some of these visas can be applied for online, while others may require people to visit a Colombian embassy or consulate. Others may even require an interview before they can be granted. Each visa has specific requirements and, thus, immigrants will need to read about their specific visa type before they apply.

One of the most popular visas for immigrants to Colombia is the Temporary Visa. This covers most work visas, educational visas, and more. Even dependents of foreigners in the country on work visas will simply have another type of Temporary Visa.

Note that immigrants must have a signed contract with a company in Colombia before they can get a work visa. This contract can be valid for up to three years, at which point both the visa and the contract can be extended.

People working in certain professions will need to get special permission to work in Colombia, beyond a work visa. These include law, engineering, medicine, and certain sciences. The process of getting approved is set by the specific regulatory body for the profession in Colombia, and may be simple or complex based on a number of factors.

Once an immigrant is inside Colombia, they need to register with the Special Administration Unit Migracion Colombia. This needs to occur within 15 days of entering the country, though most immigrants choose to do it sooner than that.

As part of this registration process, expatriates will receive their Foreigner Identification Card. This card allows them to open bank accounts and sign a lease for housing, and may give them access to other services (like healthcare) in certain situations. Government officials can ask to see this card at any time, so immigrants should carry it with them at all times.

What does it Mean to Be an Immigrant in Colombia

People love their new lives in Colombia for a number of reasons. Some of the most popular of these include:

  • Universal healthcare. People who are in Colombia legally are entitled to participate in its healthcare system. This includes general healthcare, specialist care, and more. Immigrants will need to prove their status to access this care free of charge.
  • A burgeoning economy. Colombia has only developed a stable government relatively recently. Now that they have this, their economy is growing rapidly. This creates all sorts of opportunities for citizens and foreigners alike.
  • Colombians love new people. Most Colombian citizens love meeting foreigners and are warm and friendly with them. They will invite them into their homes, share food with them, and generally create a welcoming environment that expats love.
  • Colombia offers a slower pace of life. It’s easier to slow down in Colombia than it is in many other places in the world. No one eats lunch at their desks and extended families tend to spend weekends together eating, drinking, and generally enjoying life.

Long Term Visit Versus Moving Permanently

Many people choose to visit Colombia before they decide whether or not to move there permanently. Most visitor visas are valid for up to 90 days, which is plenty of time to give a foreigner a good taste of what it might be like to live in Colombia.

The downside of a long term visit is that most of the visitor visas do not permit or severely limit the amount that a person can work in Colombia. This can make it difficult to live well and to gain a true understanding of Colombian life.

Since most long-term visas have to be renewed every one-to-three years, some expats choose to enter on these visas and simply leave if life in Colombia does not suit them. Whatever plan a visitor chooses, they need to know what their options are before they enter the country.

Refugees in Colombia

Refugees in Colombia are overseen by the UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency. They are party to the Convention on the Status of Refugees, which means that they will grant refugee status to qualifying people.

In order to apply for official refugee status in Colombia, people need to submit:

  • The names of those seeking refugee status, including any family members or dependants
  • Passports for all seeking refugee status, or a sworn testament to identity if the paperwork is not available
  • A detailed account of the reason why a person is looking for refugee status
  • Any documentation supporting the detailed account
  • The date the applicant/s entered the country and how they entered the country
  • Contact information for all applicants
  • A recent photograph of all applicants
  • Each applicant’s signature

The government will make every effort to confirm the stories of refugees and may request additional documentation or an interview. They will process these applications as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Being a Resident in Colombia

Some visas to Colombia allow the holder of the visa to apply for a Resident Visa in Colombia after a certain number of years. It is up to each expatriate to understand his or her visa and to make sure that he or she meets the requirements for time spent in Colombia before they apply for this visa.

Qualifying people can apply for a Resident Visa either online or at a Colombian consulate or embassy around the world. They will need to submit all required documentation, including their current (valid) passport, their current Colombian visa, and any documents that support that visa.

Many people choose to hire a local visa agency for help getting the Resident Visa. While the process can go smoothly, many expats report hangups in the process that were difficult or confusing to resolve, and this is where an agency can help.

After living in Colombia for seven years, immigrants can choose to apply for Colombian citizenship. This involves an application process, having a clean criminal record, and proving one’s knowledge about Colombian language, history, government, and more.

Undocumented Immigrants in Colombia

A number of people live undocumented in Colombia, though this is not recommended. Living an undocumented life can be stressful and difficult, and many people can find ways to gain legal status in Colombia.

Recently, Colombia has granted legal status to a large number of Venezuelan refugees who were in the country illegally. People who qualify for this program should seek more information from their local government offices. They can gain the right to live and work in Colombia for up to 10 years.

Start the Process Soon!

Those who have read this and have decided that moving to Colombia is right for them should start the process of moving soon. They can apply for their visa or plan a short-term trip to make sure that Colombia is the right place for them. It won’t be long before they are living there permanently.

Follow Us

Canvas