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Exploring Colombia's Visa Policy and its History

For travelers planning to head to Colombia this year, you'll want to ensure you have all of the correct documentation ahead of your visit. For many visitors to Colombia, you'll need to ensure you have a valid visa ahead of your trip, allowing you to enter the country for leisure or business purposes.

At the moment, a Colombia Check Mig is needed to enter the country. This was introduced to couter the COVID pandemic.

Colombia offers a wide selection of visas for visitors and business travelers, and depending on the purpose of your stay, you'll need to select the correct option for your visit. Let's take a look at everything you need to know to prepare for your upcoming visit to Colombia.

Colombia Visa Policy History

Colombia became an independent country in 1922, following its separation from Spain. It has one of the oldest democracies in Latin America, and countries such as the US have worked with the country to help improve its security and governance.

For the majority of visitors from across South America and the world at large, a visa is not required for visiting Colombia for a stay of up to 90 days. However, there are various exceptions and rules that apply to individual countries and regions.

Who Needs a Visa to Enter Colombia?

For the majority of visitors to Colombia, you won't need a visa to enter for up to 90 days. However, if you are traveling for business, to study, or for another purpose, you'll want to see if your visit is covered under the standard entry policy.

For those countries that do require a visa, some citizens can now apply online for an eVisa, but otherwise, you'll need to head to your local embassy to complete the process.

Citizens of Nicaragua who live in the North or South Caribbean Coast Autonomous Regions don't require a visa, but elsewhere in the country, one is required. Citizens from Cuba and Palestine passport holders require a transit visa to pass through the country.

From some countries, you are able to use visas or residence permits from the US or Schengen Area to enter Colombia.

Popular Colombia Visa Options

When it comes to visa options in Colombia, they are split into three categories: visitor, resident, and migrant.

Colombia migrant visas are often used by individuals from overseas who are looking to invest in the country, marry a Colombian citizen, retire to Colombia, work, or study in the country.

Each visa type has its own set of requirements, and you'll need to provide proof of your partnership, work, or enrollment in an education program in the country to apply for a visa in this category.

Resident visas are for individuals who previously held an M visa category, have a large investment in the country, are the parent of a Colombia national, or are returning Colombians.

Finally, the Colombia visitor visa is for leisure and tourism, or individuals looking to conduct business in the country.

This visa is also often used for academic exchange programs, medical consultations, events, temporary services, and business if you work for a Colombian branch of a company.

Each visa has its own requirements and lengths of stay limits, so you'll need to understand which is the most appropriate option for your situation before continuing with your application.

How to Apply for a Colombian Visa

If you require a Colombia visa ahead of your trip, you'll need to ensure you leave enough time to apply beforehand. While you may be able to apply for a tourist Visa online, if you are looking to secure one of the other visas mentioned above, you'll likely need to contact your local Colombian embassy in your home country for assistance.

Your passport will need to be valid for a minimum of six months upon your entry into Colombia, regardless of the type of visa you are applying for. Upon booking an appointment with your local consulate, you'll attend an appointment where you'll submit all of the required paperwork for your visa type.

Here, you'll pay the visa issuance fee, and the visa sticker will be added to your passport upon its approval.

Documentation Requirements

The documentation requirements for a Colombia visa are quite strict, so ensure you submit the right ones for the category of visa you are applying for. You'll need a copy of your main passport page and proof of any previous Colombia visas or entry stamps.

On top of that, you need to supply a passport size picture which was taken in the last three months. Proof of your upcoming trip is required for entry into the country, such as a travel itinerary, accommodation or address, and proof of relationship if staying with a family member.

Bank statements are usually required to show that you have the resources to provide for yourself in Colombia.

When traveling for an event, you'll need to provide the agenda for your trip, and traveling for business requires a letter of invitation from your company. If you are going to Colombia for a course or education, you'll need to show your acceptance or enrollment certification.

Ensure you check the requirements for your specific visa type to avoid any delays at the consulate or upon your arrival in Colombia.

As you can see, there's a lot to consider when applying for a visa to visit Colombia. With so many visa categories on offer, it can sometimes be overwhelming for visitors to understand which is the best option for them.

If you are just visiting for leisure or tourism, many visitors don't require a visa and can enjoy exploring this beautiful country for 90 days visa-free.

Ensure you review the current health and safety requirements regardless of whether you need a visa or not, so you don't have any issues upon your entry to Colombia. 

Other Visa Information for Colombia

If travelers are not eligible to enter Colombia with a visa stamp at the border or they want to stay in the country longer than 90 days, they will need to get a visa.

Most of the time, they will need to apply for these visas before they leave home, though some of the visas can be obtained while in the country.

Colombia groups its visas into a few large categories. Under each category, though, there are a variety of subcategories.

Travelers will need to make sure that they choose both the right category and subcategory when applying for a visa to Colombia.

Every visa type or subtype for Colombia has fees associated with it. Travelers will need to pay these fees when they submit their application because the visa cannot be processed without it.

Nationals of some countries will not need to pay fees for some or all Colombian visa applications.

These laws are subject to change, so travelers should check at the time they submit their application. That way, they can pay the proper fees to expedite their visa process.

Consulates in different countries will accept payment differently, so travelers should research and be ready to pay in an accepted manner.

Direct deposit and credit/debit cards are usually accepted.

Visitor Visa (V)

The visitor visa is for people who want to visit Colombia temporarily, but who do not have any intention of settling there long term.

Visitor visas can be issued for people who want to take extended vacations in the country or for transit purposes. It’s also good for business travelers who will not be employed in Colombia.

There are visitor visas for studying Spanish in Colombia, for seeking medical treatment there, and for people participating in short-term exchanges.

Visitor visas also cover journalists, volunteers, and people working as part of the crew on a boat or a cruise. Those participating in an inter-corporate transfer can also get a visitor visa.

Travelers will need to submit documentation that proves their purpose in traveling to Colombia.

This can include letters of invitation, acceptance into programs, letters from the business they are representing, and more. 

Visitor visas are usually good for stays of up to 180 consecutive days in Colombia, but they may be issued for up to 5 years in some cases.

Some visas will be single entry, while others will allow for multiple entries. The details will depend on the purpose of travel and the traveler’s nationality.

Migrant Visa (M)

The migrant visa is for people who want to live in Colombia, but who do not (or do not yet) qualify for a resident visa.

These visas are good for up to three years, but the exact length of the visa depends on the traveler’s purposes in Colombia and their nationality.

There are a number of categories of M visas in Colombia. 

Foreigners who are married to Colombian citizens qualify for a migrant visa, as do parents and children of Colombian citizens and adoptive parents or children.

Foreigners who are members of Mercosur (South America’s trade block) or who are entering Colombia as refugees can get M visas.

People who have obtained jobs working for Colombian companies, those who are experts in a field and wish to start a business in Colombia, and students can also get M visas. 

Investors who are investing at least 10 times the Colombian monthly minimum wage or those investing in real estate above a certain amount also qualify for migrant visas. 

Religious workers can get migrant visas, too, as can people who want to retire in Colombia and who qualify financially. 

All foreigners wishing to get migrant visas will need to present documentation proving that they qualify under one of the categories listed above.

They may also need to show that they have the financial means to cover their time in Colombia.

People wanting retirement visas will need to show that they have an established pension that gives them at least three times Colombia’s minimum wage.

They can also show that they have other investments that pay at least 10 times Colombia’s minimum wage. 

Resident Visa

Resident visas are for people who want to live permanently in Colombia and are especially for those pursuing a path to citizenship in the country. 

These visas can be issued to people who once had Colombian citizenship but renounced it and who now want to return to the country.

They can also be issued for people who have at least one Colombian citizen for a parent and investors who invest at least 650 times Colombia’s monthly minimum wage in the country.

People who have continuously held a beneficiary visa for 5 years can be eligible, as can those with migrant visas.

People with spousal or refugee migrant visas qualify for a resident visa after holding their migrant visas for at least 2 continuous years.

Other people with migrant visas will need to hold those for five continuous years before they can get a resident visa.

All applicants for a resident visa in Colombia will need to show proof that they are eligible to apply under one of the categories listed above.

The resident visa allows for permanent residence in Colombia, though those who leave the country for more than two consecutive years will have their visa invalidated.

Special Resident Peace Visa (RES)

The Special Resident Peace Visa is specifically for former members of the FARC-EP. These were rebel forces who fought against the Colombian government for many years.

In 2016, the FARC and the Colombian government signed a peace deal. In 2017, the FARC disarmed itself and handed all weapons over to representatives from the United Nations. 

The RES visa was developed as part of that peace process. It is for foreigners who were members of the FARC and who now want to settle permanently in Colombia.

To qualify for this visa, people must be named on official lists presented by the FARC and approved by Colombia’s government.

This visa provides for permanent residence in Colombia. Visa holders can work and stay in Colombia indefinitely.

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