Note: All information is correct at the time of publication (May 19th 2020). For live updates, visit the official Colombian COVID-19 website.
The coronavirus pandemic has had a serious impact on public health, trade and commerce, and employment on an international scale.
As of now, 4.4 million people have been affected by the virus worldwide, with over 13,000 confirmed cases in Colombia. While the primary concern is for the wellbeing of those who are suffering from COVID-19 – particularly the most vulnerable like the elderly – the virus has also affected people’s ability to travel.
This begs the question then, what are the Colombian visa changes during coronavirus?
Well, there have certainly been changes to the traditional processes enacted by the Colombian government’s department of immigration (migración), and these changes haven’t been the clearest.
Given that the country is in a state of perpetual quarantine extensions, it’s complicated to give definitive answers to people either stuck in Colombia, applying for a visa, or trying to re-enter the country.
Nevertheless, people need to know what their legal status is, how to act should the situation change, and if they can make plans regarding entering, exiting, or staying in Colombia.
We’ve taken a look at the latest Colombian visa changes during the coronavirus pandemic, and how these have affected the expat community.
What’s the Colombian Government’s Response to Coronavirus Been?
The Colombian government issued a national quarantine on March 25th. This has meant travel to and from different parts of Colombia have been heavily restricted or stopped altogether.
In terms of entering or exiting Colombia, the government has closed all international borders until May 25th. This means that travelling to Colombia, even for Colombian nationals abroad, is not possible, and leaving the country for foreign nationals is improbable (unless their own national governments have chartered planes for citizens to leave Colombia).
Is it Possible to Get an M, R or V-type Colombian Visa Now?
In short, yes.
If you’re currently in Colombia, and looking to get a migrant (M), resident (R) or visitor (V) visa, the Cancillería (Government immigration website) and migración are still processing visa applications.
It’s important to note, however, that there have been changes to some of the Colombian work visa requirements in 2020 for those looking to apply for an M-5 visa. Furthermore, those who apply for a visitor visa won’t be allowed to re-enter if they leave Colombia.
Given the restrictions of the quarantine, the cancellería and migración are under serious amounts of strain. It’s therefore safe to assume that the visa application process may take longer than normal.
All visa applications should be carried out online unless you have strict instructions to do otherwise. In addition, all visas are processed and issued in Bogotá (Avenida 19 No. 98-03, Pisos 3 y 4). If you’re applying for a visa outside of Bogotá, you’ll need to source an experienced courier and migratory service provider to safely transport your passport to the capital.
Can You Get a Colombian Visa from Outside of Colombia?
In short, no.
Colombian embassies and consulates around the world are, like Colombia, coping with social distancing. Expats trying to apply for visas abroad won’t be able to successfully process their application for the time being.
As things stand, non-Colombian citizens without a residency, migrant or investor visa will not be able to reenter the country until May 30th. This is, of course, subject to change and it’s likely that the date will be extended given that the Colombian government has already prolonged quarantine several times.
The smartest thing to do is to keep an eye on updates in the Colombian media, and from online blogs that are updating the situation as it develops.
Are Tourists at Risk of Becoming Illegal in Colombia?
The Colombian government has introduced a grace period between March 19th and May 30th. Resolución No. 0918 states that if you already have an extended 180-day tourist visa, the days between these dates will not count towards your time in Colombia as a tourist.
For people who aren’t able to extend their current 90-day tourist visa, you won’t be able to right now. Since April 2020, the government website for applying for tourist visa extensions has been taken offline. A safe assumption is that the Colombian government is not issuing tourist visa extensions.
Fortunately, there is help at hand for tourists in Colombia who are struggling to know what their next move should be regarding staying or leaving the country. There are several Colombian tourist visa extension service agencies that are providing expert consultation to people in need of assistance.
The current circumstances caused by the coronavirus mean that most foreign nationals will have to stay in Colombia for at least two more weeks.
The national quarantine has complicated the application process for Colombian work visas, Colombian resident visas, and Colombian visitor visas. Nevertheless, there are highly-experienced Colombian migratory service agencies who are on hand to assist any and all doubts and concerns of the expat community.