For a 2019 update click here.
This website has previously looked at several temporary visas for Colombia and due to several reader requests we now look at how to obtain a resident visa (RE visa) in Colombia.
The resident visa is intended for foreigners who wish to live full-time in Colombia. A foreigner with an RE visa is also authorized to exercise any legal activity in the country, including working.
Before looking at the resident visa, it is worthwhile to review several of the most popular temporary (TP) visas as the resident visa in most cases requires first having a TP visa for a certain duration.
Colombia Temporary Visas
Some of the most popular temporary visas (TP visas) with foreigners in Colombia include:
- Student visa (TP-3) – for the foreigner who enters Colombia to engage in an academic program. I previously had two TP-3 visas while I was enrolled in University EAFIT’s Spanish language program, each good for a year.
- Work visa (TP-4) – for a foreigner who has a job in Colombia.
- Retirement visa (TP-7) – for the foreigner who receives a retirement income such as a pension from a public or private company or the government (Social Security). The requirement is a minimum of three times the minimum wage in Colombia. The minimum wage in 2016 is 689,454 pesos per month, so the minimum retirement income is only $629 per month at an exchange rate of 3,290 pesos.
- Rentista visa (TP-7) – for a foreigner who receives a non-pension income from outside Colombia from a public or private company. The minimum income is 15 times the minimum wage in Colombia or about $3,143 per month.
- Investment visa (TP-7) – for a foreigner who invests in property or a business in Colombia. For property investments, Colombia requires an investment that is more than 350 times the minimum wage in Colombia or more than $73,346. For business investments, Colombia requires an investment that is no less than 100 times the minimum wage in Colombia or no less than $20,956.
- Spouse visa (TP-10) – for a foreigner who has a Colombian spouse or permanent partner. Since I am married to a Colombian, I now have a TP-10 visa that is good for three years.
Note this is not a complete list of visas but includes several of the most popular TP visas.
The TP-3 visa is typically good for six months to two years depending on the length of the school program. The TP-7 and TP-4 visas are typically good for a period of a year or two. While the TP-10 visa is typically good for three years.
Colombia Resident Visa
A Colombia resident visa is good for a period of five years and must be renewed every five years. RE visas will also expire if you are out of Colombia for more than two years.
The common options for obtaining a resident visa include:
- Having a TP visa for a certain time – after holding most TP visas for an uninterrupted minimum time of five continuous years or for a TP-10 visa (Spouse visa) for a minimum of three years.
- Qualified resident – this is available immediately for parents of Colombian children.
- Resident investor – This option requires that you make an investment in Colombia of more than 650 times the minimum wage in Colombia or more than $136,214.
- Returning Colombians – In some cases, Colombians that live abroad were required to renounce their Colombian citizenship when becoming citizens of their host countries. This visa provides residency when these Colombians return to Colombia.
The requirements for obtaining a RE visa are spelled out in detail on the Cancillería website, here.
If you had a TP visa for the required minimum time, the requirements for a RE visa are easy:
- Copy of the main data page of your passport
- Copy of the page of passport with the last entry to Colombia stamp
- Copy of your TP visa(s)
- Migratory Movement Certificate issued by Colombia Migration, dated within three months of the visa application
- For a TP-10 visa, a notarized letter signed by the spouse or permanent partner who is a Colombian national requesting the issuance of the RE visa along a copy of the Colombian national’s cedula
The RE visa costs $385 as well as an additional $50 study fee. It can be applied for in person at the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores office in Bogotá located at Avenida 19 # 98-03, Torre 100 Building, 3rd Floor.
Note that after receiving a RE visa you will have a maximum of 15 days to register your visa and apply for a new cédula de extranjería ID card in a Migración Colombia office in any city in the country.
Becoming a Dual-Citizen
One drawback of the RE visa is that it must be renewed when it expires. But it is possible to become a dual-citizen so you will no longer incur the expense for RE visa renewals.
After having an RE visa for five years (or two years if married to a Colombian), you can apply to become a citizen of Colombia. Colombia permits dual-citizenship as does the U.S. and many other countries.
Latin American and Caribbean nationals are eligible to apply for citizenship in Colombia after shorter time frames of only one year as a resident or two years if from Spain.
The requirements for Colombian citizenship application include:
- A letter to the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, requesting citizenship, which includes name, date of birth, current address, contact details, country of origin, current nationality and last address before moving to Colombia and reasons for request of citizenship
- Copy of your cédula de extranjería
- Copy of the main data page of your passport
- Copy of valid RE visa
- Copy of Colombian tax return (if file taxes in Colombia) or certification from an accountant if not a taxpayer
- Authorization for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to request the report for naturalization, tax and other relevant information from other authorities
- Proof of Employment covering the past six months
- Marriage certificate, if married or permanent partner of a Colombian citizen
- Males between the ages of 18 and 50 must show their military status from their home country
- 4 Passport Photos
A complete list of the requirements for Citizenship is found on the Cancillería website here.
Like the US, Colombia also has a citizenship test. You are expected to pass a test related to Colombian history, geography and the constitution.
A basic Spanish oral test is also required. Those who have a bachelor’s degree from a Colombian university or are over 65 years old are exempt from these tests.
The Bottom Line
Colombia has many temporary visa options for foreigners who wish to stay in the country for a longer period than the standard six-month maximum during a year with a tourist visa.
Resident visas are more challenging and require several years with a temporary visa first unless you are a parent of a Colombian child or invest sufficient funds to qualify as a resident investor.
After having one of the temporary visas for a minimum of five years (or three years for marriage or permanent partner), you can receive a resident visa (RE visa) that is good for five years and will need to be renewed every five years.
After having a resident visa for five years (or two years for marriage or permanent partner) it is possible to obtain dual-citizenship and never have to deal with Colombian visas again.
For a 2018 update click here.