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.
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.