How to Get a Work Visa in Colombia

Medellin

Medellin

This is a guest post by Anthony Goeritz, updating instructions originally posted here in 2011.

On 25th May 2013 I came back from Panama with a brand new Colombian visa glued in my passport.

It wasn’t an easy process, especially given that most of the information you find online is either incorrect or incomplete and that the required documentation changes so often.

I hope this account proves useful to anyone who is thinking of applying for the work visa, however, I thoroughly recommend you check the official website for the most up to date information.

Things to Consider

This post is about applying for the work visa for the first time. Reapplying for subsequent visas requires a completely different process.

Any foreigner applying for the work visa for the first time, needs to do so at a Colombian consulate abroad. You can search for these here.

You need to arrange an appointment on the website beforehand.

You have to pay $50 for the consultation in advance. This is non-refundable, even if your application is rejected.

My experience might be very different from yours. It seemed to me like they work on a case by case basis.

I am writing this on 28th May 2013 and requirements might change, so again, please check the official website for the most up to date information.

Documents You’ll Need

1. Passport with minimum 2 blank pages.

2. Photocopy of passport biological information page.

3. Photocopy of last entry/exit stamp to Colombia.

4. Three recent 3cm x 3cm photos, white background.

5. Original work contract. Or, signed and notarised contract summary form available here.

6. Original and photocopy of main degree certificate (transcript of grades wasn’t required in my case). The original certificate must be apostilled, translated into Spanish and then the translation apostilled too.

Search on Google, there are many companies who offer this service. The reason they demand this is to certify your capability to do the job.

Because of this, I would strongly recommend bringing an additional letter from your company stating that you possess the exact skills and experience they are looking for.

7. Proof the company exists, issued within the last 3 months. In my case it was my company’s public registry (registro público) from the Chamber of Commerce.

I was told it must be the original document however check with the consulate you have the appointment with to see if you could bring a notarised photocopy.

8. Proof that the company will pay for you to return to your country of residence should you have to leave Colombia due to visa issues.

This might be a clause in your contract or in my case it was a signed letter from my boss. This clause is already included at the bottom of the contract summary form mentioned above in number 5, but if you bring an original contract instead, you will need to make your firm aware that it is absolutely necessary that they include it in your contract or write you a letter.

I’d recommend using the exact paragraph they include on the contract summary form.

9. Receipt of having paid $50 into the consulate’s bank account in advance for the consultation. You receive instructions on how to do this in an email after having confirmed your appointment on the website.

This payment is usually made into local banks meaning that you will probably have to make the deposit once you arrive in your chosen country as the bank may not exist in Colombia. Leave enough time to do this.

10. Once approved, receipt of paying $205 into the same bank account for the visa.

Final Tips

Arrive early to your appointment.

Dress smart – I wore a suit and tie.

Don’t try to cut corners with the required documents.

Stay for 5 to 7 days – if you are missing a document, as long as the Consulate agrees, your company can DHL/FedEx it to you and you can hand it in when it arrives. I went back 3 times and didn’t need to book a new appointment to do this.

You have 15 days to register your visa with Migracion Colombia and apply for the ‘cédula de extranjería‘. Details in Spanish about this here.

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Comments

  1. Philip Sale says:

    Interesting article, but not totally accurate, as DAS was disbanded in 2011 and now all immigration issues are dealt with by Migración Colombia.

    • Whether you call them DAS or Migracion Colombia, it’s the same entity (and probably many of the same employees) handling immigration and visas. For people just looking to get a visa, the name of the organization has little bearing.

      If there’s anything about the actual procedure you find inaccurate, please let me know and I’ll go back to the author. Otherwise, I’ve updated “DAS” in the last sentence to read “Migracion Colombia” so as not to confuse anyone going forward.

  2. Jordy van der Drift says:

    Dear all,

    I am in the process of arranging all my documents needed to apply for a temporary work visa. I have a question about the “Acreditar idoneidad” part. I have a MSc in Quantitative Finance legalized and apostilled in the Netherlands. I am not going to perform a profession that is regulated. The question I have is about the “convalidación del título profesional ante el Ministerio de Educación”. Do I need to do this? I looked it up and the process takes 2-4 months…

    In addition I am adding a letter from the company saying that they think I am the perfect person for the position.

    Do you guys think that the MSc diploma (apostilled) and the letter will suffice? Do I need this convalidación at the ministry?

    Kind regards,

    Jordy

  3. Hi Dave, Quick Question. I have a TEFL certification yet no college degree. What did you see in your experience for things such as this? I have no formal teaching experience outside of years of teaching activities at camp and dance.

    • I’m not a teacher, though I did try to be one briefly upon arrival in 2009. The advice teachers gave me back then was to lie about my experience (fake it till you make it). That’s when I realized I was better off sticking to blogging.

  4. Obtaining my TP-4 visa was very simple and I was very impressed by the service performed by the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores. No longer do you have to leave Colombia to obtain your work visa. Simply visit the Bogota office at Avenida 19 Nº 98 – 03, Torre 100 Building, 3rd Floor. I went to the office without an appointment on a Friday morning at 9:50AM (December 12, 2014) and paid 94,500 in cash for my interview. Waited a short time for my interview, completed the interview in 10 minutes and returned to the lobby as the officer looked over my documents alone. The only question he asked was my level of education and my profession in my home country (United States). There is no application and you don’t need to bring visa photos. The officer will take your photo from his/her office chair. After a few minutes in the lobby, I was called back to the same officer. He said I was approved and that I needed to pay the office cashier. After paying 463,050 in cash, I waited in the lobby again. After a few minutes I was called back to the same officer and my visa was waiting for me in my passport. He instructed me to register my visa within 15 days at one of the Migración Colombia offices. I left the building at 11:00AM. If you have your documents in line, the process is simple. You will also receive an email with an electronic copy of your work visa. If you have questions before you visit the office, I recommend you use the online chat service. With more foreigners coming to this wonderful country, the process is progressing. Overall, changing my extended tourist visa (the one you get for additional 90 days) to a work visa was a pleasant experience. Please dress nicely for your interview, Colombians appreciate it.

    For the visa registration and Cédula de Extranjería (Identification card), walk a few minutes down the street to Migración Colombia. You can also choose to do this process in another Colombian city. If you choose to do the process in Bogota and you live elsewhere, simply inform the officer that you want to pick up your Cédula in a different city. The officer will have you sign a paper stating your selected city. Although the officer said my Cédula would be ready in 4 days, I don’t find Bogota a pleasant place to be, so I selected Medellin. Again, read the website for up to date information and have your documents in line. The process took an hour. If you’ve had a Cédula in the past, don’t worry about having another blood test to determine your blood type, they have that information in the computer. But you’ll have to be finger printed no matter what. This was my fourth time being finger printed by Migración Colombia. Do fingerprints change over time?

    • Jayanth Sai V says:

      Hello Andrews! Good to hear that the application for the TP-4 work visa is simple and hassle free. I have some quick questions on what all documents do we need for applying for this type of visa and what all documents are to be apostilled/Legalized if any? I’m here in Colombia on TP-6 visa since 6 months doing a AIESEC Internship and my internship was completed in December,2014.Later, I found a job here in a IT company and hence I need to transfer my visa from TP-6 to TP-4 to legally work in Colombia, so is it possible that I can apply here in Colombia for transfer of visa or should I go out of colombia and apply in a colombian consulate abroad?
      But just few days back, I had applied for a TP-4 visa online with all documents mentioned in the website and after doing the initial 94,500 payment within few hours I got a mail that my visa is denied. I dont understand the exact reason behind this, all the documents were uploaded in the order they asked but none of the documents are apostilled/legalized as it was not mentioned in the website and even the degree/diploma certificates were not mentioned in the website so I didnt upload them.
      Should I apply from another country If i need work visa? or any of the documents need to be apostilled/legalized?
      Please help me over this if you have any information, Thank you in advance.

      • Jayanth,

        I didn’t need any documents apostilled/legalized because they were issued by a Colombian organization. Don’t worry about having your diplomas confirmed; you won’t need them for the application. You can apply in Bogota and I strongly recommend it. You’ll get feedback from a real person and maybe a second opportunity to gather any missing documents during that workday. As for documents you will need to complete the DP-FO-68 with your employer. This two page document covers certain responsibilities of the worker and employer. It can be found on the website. Also, you will need to submit bank statements from the past six months that details your company’s financials. The other document I needed was my employer’s tax code. This code proves the legitimacy of the business. With this code my organization gave me a few additional documents providing further proof of the organizations existence. These were notarized in Colombia with a copy of the notary’s cedula (ID card). If you’re unsure about a few things as I was, I recommend you use the chat service on the website.

      • Jayanth Sai V,

        Did you solve your problem? Were you able to change visa? How did you do? Thanks for the update.
        esioleh

        • Jayanth Sai V says:

          Hello esioleh,

          My initial request for change of Visa was rejected as I told before in my post, this could probably be that I didnt notarize the documents which is necessary as andrew mentioned it in this post. Later, I did not apply for the TP-4 Visa again yet, I will do it soon probably in March but this time from my country(India) as I came back home. However once I get an update about his process I will post all the information here about my Work Visa.

          • Hello Jayanth,

            Thank you very much for your answer, it is just that I am also part of aiesec at the moment but I would like to stay find a better job and apparently aiesec coordinators were saying that people that got a voluntary visa with the organization will see their future demands of change in visa rejected. So i am really concerned. Thans for any update on your situation!

  5. Great post about getting a work visa. It helped me out when I was doing research on getting mine (TP-1 visa called a ‘Service Visa’) in Cali. If anyone is interested in my story and how it might differ in a different city/organization, check out my blog here:

    http://honestlycali.weebly.com/blog/visa-news-doing-a-visa-run-to-panama

  6. Hi,
    Great article. So this is my second time in Medellin and I have been here 10 months in total. My tourist visa runs out in a few months and I want to stay. Im.hoping I can get a work visa to stay – currently Im teaching private English clases ( I have a degree but no Tefl/Celta/Cambridge).
    I know a few friends with Businesses here who say they would give me papers to apply for a work visa. Does anybody have experience in this and know if it would work? Also how is the duration of the visa given decided? Gracias 🙂

    • Hi Eoin,

      I’ve got a business undergrad and have nearly completed my TEFL to teach English. I’ve been to Medellin 3 times and to Cartegena once, and speak enough Spanish to get by comfortably.

      Could you recommend any schools looking to hire American native English speakers and any tips that might be associated with obtaining that kind of work?

      Thanks!

      Brian

  7. Is it legal to teach English privately on a tourist visa? It may be accepted but if someone were to advertise the service, would the government care?

    • The simple answer is “no”. The bottom line it is illegal to work in any job in Colombia if you only have a tourist visa. This is just like a tourist visa to the U.S., which prohibits working. While you could do it “under the table”, it’s not recommended.

  8. Mcgilly says:

    What happens when you are on a tp4 visa and you quit your job or get fired? Will the visa be cancelled from that day or is there a period of time you can still be in the country after the contract ended? Thanks!

  9. Daniel Owen says:

    Hi there everyone,

    I have all my documents ready to get my working visa. I am in Medellin at the moment and I know I need to go to Bogota to have the actual appointment. My biggest problem is trying to make the appointment. I rung the numbers provided on the Imigracion website then they referred me to the international affairs number. I call them and it was only dead ends. Does anyone know how I can make this appointment. Thank you very much.

    Daniel.

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