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How to Get a Colombian Work Visa – 2022 Update

Colombian M-5 (Migrant – Category 5) work visas are for expats and foreign nationals that are seeking employment in Colombia. 

Applicants should remember that a work visa is a government permit that allows the foreign to work only with the company and sponsor which applied for the visa. Therefore, you will not be authorized to have a contract or work with other entities in the country.

While the process of applying for a Colombian Work Visa hasn’t changed much since last year, the requirements for a successful application have become more stringent. This is due to required supplementary documentation that proves the legitimacy of an applicant’s educational background.

We’ve put together a comprehensive guide on how to get a work visa in Colombia for expats in 2022. 

Let’s get into it. 

How do I Apply for a Colombian Work Visa?

Most Colombian work visa applications are done online. You can begin your Colombian visa application process on the government website here. The online application process takes roughly 30 minutes and has a USD 52 application fee. You can pay for this fee through the Colombian online payment platform PSE or with a Visa Credit Card.

Before applying for a Colombian work visa by yourself, you should err on the side of caution if you don’t have experience doing so. To state the obvious, all details in the application must be filled out correctly and in their entirety. The Colombian Government can and will reject applications that have been completed erroneously or insubstantially. 

Therefore, if your prospective employer can’t help you in an administrative capacity, and you’re tackling a visa application solo, make sure to consult with an experienced visa agency who can advise you on getting all details spot on. 

What Documents Do I Need for a Colombian Work Visa?

You should have all the following pieces of documentation ready to process before looking to submit your Colombian Work Visa application: 

  • A summary of your prospective employment contract. This will highlight your role, salary, contract type, and start date. Inconsistencies regarding start date or contract type may mean the government requests the original contract or more information.
  • A letter of motivation from your prospective employment contract. This will state why, as an expat, they have offered you employment over a Colombian.
  • A photocopy of the first page of your original passport. The first page of your passport should contain all your personal information. 
  • A photocopy of your Colombian entrance stamp inside your original passport. This is so the government can see when you’ve entered the country and that your time in the country as a tourist hasn’t already expired.
  • A photocopy of your previous Colombian visa (if applicable). Like the reasons above, this helps migración understand your current and previous status as a foreign national in Colombia. 
  •  A passport photo with the following dimensions – 3cm x 4cm. The photo must be uploaded as a 300kb (maximum) jpg file with a white background. This will be used for the visa, as well as your Colombian national ID card (cédula extranjería).
  • A digital copy of your university degree is translated and apostilled by an official governmental, educational, or legal institution. This is the most significant change to the new Colombian Work Visa requirement. You are now required to provide an apostille for.
  • Documentation that verifies your prospective employer is a valid visa sponsor. This is so the government knows your business can comfortably afford your salary for the length of your contract. We get into this below:

Colombian Visa Application screenshot

What Companies Can Offer Me a Colombian Work Visa?

If you’ve found a great employment opportunity with a Colombian or international company based in Colombia, you need to know if they can sponsor you to become a fully-fledged employee. 

Essentially, your prospective employer needs to prove that they can afford to pay your salary and benefits, on top of all their other business expenses, comfortably. 

To put a number on it, your potential future employer needs to make 100 times the minimum monthly wage in Colombia. The Colombian minimum wage – adjusted for inflation – in 2022 is 1.000.000COP (approximately USD 262) a month. This means, your visa sponsor needs to generate 100,000,000COP (approximately USD 27,000) revenue a month, and prove this with bank statements from the previous 6 months prior to your visa application.

On top of this, sponsors must show an income statement from the previous year, and demonstrate that they couldn’t find a Colombian who couldn’t adequately fulfill the skillset required. If you’re unsure about a company’s ability to sponsor you for a visa, talk to a visa specialist.

Editor notes: updated in March 2022: If the employer is entities, or institutions of the Colombian State, International Government Organization, Diplomatic Missions, or Consular Offices accredited in Colombia. You must only submit a visa application letter signed by the legal representative or whoever acts on their behalf.

In terms of finding Colombian employment opportunities, you’ll be more likely to find work as an English-speaking expat in education, sales, or international business. Job sites like Computrabajo and Glassdoor regularly post jobs for both English, Spanish and bilingual candidates. If you want to know more about finding a job in Colombia you must read our blog: 4 Good Industries for seeking employment in Colombia as an Expat or 6 Best places to work in Colombia.

How Do I Get an Apostille for my University Degree? 

An apostille is an official stamp and signature of a public servant certifying the validity of a document. This signature will then be recorded in the database of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

Therefore, an apostille officially must come from a government department, and a notarized version of your degree from a private citizen like a solicitor won’t be accepted.

example of an apostille

How much Are Colombian Visa Fees?

Including the application cost, administrative tax, and the Colombian visa cost itself, your application for a M-5 temporary work visa will cost around USD 282.

It is advisable to consult with experts in visa processes to increase the success of approval. In expatgroup.co you will find a qualified team with ten years of experience in visa applications, many success stories, and with motivation to continue helping expats to stay in Colombia.

Final Thoughts

It is a must that the applicant demonstrate that he has the experience and essential characteristics to stand out from a Colombian, due to that Colombia it’s a reflection of a country that’s evolving, that is why the increasing number of expats who want to come to live and work here. However,  Colombia is also looking out for its citizens, ensuring their labor isn’t being displaced by a foreign national with the same knowledge and experience.

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