Colombia has made impressive economic progress in the last few years and is actively promoting foreign investments and welcoming foreign talents in select sectors.
Foreigners who wish to come to the Latin American country for employment are required to get legal permission from the Colombian government. Here’s what expats need to know about Colombian work visas and employment opportunities in the country.
Keep in mind even expats will need the immigration form when they arrive in the country.
A work visa is a legal authorization granted to foreigners who wish to engage in paid employment in the country. Earlier, a Colombian work visa was known as TP- 4 work visa. However, the country changed its visa rules in 2017. As per the new guidelines, the work visa falls under the Migrant visa category (Type M). The M-5 work visa is valid for the duration of the contract or a maximum of three years.
Note that the TP-4 work visa cannot automatically be converted to a Type M work visa. For this, a foreigner must apply through the Colombian embassy or consulate in their home country or at the office of the immigration department if they are in Colombia.
The application process for a Colombian work visa is relatively easy if foreign applicants satisfy all the requirements notified by the foreign ministry.
Foreigners can apply for a work visa if their educational qualifications and experience credentials match their employer’s requirements, and the employers must prove that there is a genuine need to hire foreign talent. Applicants also should submit relevant certificates to prove their qualifications and experience.
A Migrant (Type M) visa is a long-term Colombian visa issued to foreigners who wish to stay in the country for the long term and who are not eligible for a Type R (resident) visa. This visa is granted by the government for a maximum duration of three years. The Colombia Type M work visa will be issued at the discretion of the staff at the Colombian missions. If the applicants are in Colombia at the time of the application, they can do it at the office of the Ministry of foreign affairs in Bogota.
Foreign nationals applying for a Colombian Type M work visa have to provide the following documents:
There can be additional documentation. Applicants are encouraged to contact the nearest Colombian mission to know the most recent information about the work visa and documents needed. Foreigners holding a Type M work visa continuously for five years can receive a Type R (resident visa) and they can also acquire Colombian citizenship if they possess the Type R visa for five years or more. Since Colombia recognizes dual citizenship they do not need to give up their original citizenship.
The applicants for the work visa can either complete the application form online or fill out the physical form. They have to personally visit the Colombian embassy on a later date scheduled by the mission’s staff to drop off the application form and other supporting documents. They will have to also provide biometric information and attend an in-person interview.
The Colombian embassy staff has the authority to approve or reject a visa application. It is important for the applicants to provide true information at the time of the interview. All the documents and data submitted before the Colombian missions will be verified by a competent authority and if found fraudulent, the application will be rejected.
At times, visa applications will be sent back to the applicants for more information. Note that the processing fee will not be reimbursed if the application is rejected. Citizens of foreign countries holding a Colombian work visa will have to register it at the office of Colombian immigration within 15 days of their arrival in Colombia, or they could be fined. The office will issue a temporary ID card to them.
The fourth largest Latin American economy, Colombia is a sought-after employment market for an increasing number of foreign nationals. The country is blessed with natural resources and enjoys a relatively stable economy. The cost of living is also not high. The country also offers a comparatively less tedious environment and processes for foreign entrepreneurs to start a business in the country.
However, finding a job in Colombia is still a tough task for foreign nationals, especially those who do not have Spanish language proficiency. Securing a job before arriving in the country is a daunting task. If a Colombian employer wants to hire a foreigner for a position, he/she needs to explain to the authorities why he/she is not hiring a Colombian. Employers also need to prepare an elaborate job offer and get it approved by government officers.
Smaller businesses are reluctant to sponsor foreigners, and some others do not prefer to offer jobs without meeting the job seekers face to face. However, because of the growth in the tourism industry, the authorities are encouraging Colombians to learn English. This, in turn has created many job opportunities for foreigners, especially English teachers.
Digital nomads, also known as remote workers or entrepreneurs, from visa-free countries do not need a visa to work from their accommodation in Colombia. They can enter Colombia without a visa and work from the country with their entry permit. The validity of this visa is up to two years. However, digital nomads can stay in the country only for up to six months per visit.
Note that this visa has a few restrictions. Foreigners arriving on this visa cannot work for Colombian employers or cannot engage in paid employment in a Colombian business. They also need to use native telecommunication services.
Colombia has made significant strides in the past few years, with a booming economy that is actively encouraging foreign investments and skilled foreign workers in select sectors. A Colombia work visa is a legal authorization that allows foreign nationals to engage in paid employment in the country.