Applying for a Visa can give you a pretty huge headache, no matter the type of Visa you want. Bureaucracy, tons of paperwork and the stress caused by the possibility of not getting it on time or at all don’t help much either.
I came to Colombia as a volunteer for more than three months so I needed a temporary Visa to grant my staying here. I applied for a TP-6 Visa, which is perfect for somebody who wants to enter Colombian territory as a volunteer of an NGO recognized by the Colombian state.
Because I am part of the International Internships Program run by AIESEC, they provided me the documents I needed. So before applying you need to make sure that the organization you’re about to work for supports you in the process, at least with the documents.
Here are the requirements to apply for a TP-6 Visa, according to the Colombian Consulate:
- 2-3 pictures with white background, 3×3 cm.
- Copy of the first page of your current passport where your personal data is displayed.
- Copy of the page of your passport where the last stamp of entry or departure of Colombia is located (if any).
- If you’ve had a Colombian Visa but it was issued without the OCR (lecture code), attach a copy of your last Colombian Visa. If you’ve had a Visa that counts with the OCR, this requisite is not necessary.
- If your Visa process will be finished by a third person, an official power of attorney must be presented.
- Letter signed by the legal representative of the organization describing the activities the foreign national will be carrying out in the country, the work program he will undertake, the length and agenda, the assumption of all cost responsibility during the stay of the foreigner in the country, as well as the expenses for his/her return to his/her country of origin or last place of residence, and his/her family according to the case.
- Certificate signed by the NGO legal representative where it shows experience and competence of the foreigner in relation with the activities he/she intends to carry out in the country or that the foreigner is an intern.
- Valid document that credits the legal capacity of the NGO (attach the pages that contain: identity, social object, legal representatives, capital or stock composition and functions of the legal representative) issued by the competent Colombian authority or similar document from a country different from Colombia with a minimum antiquity of 5 years and issued in the last three months. Both requirements could be substituted by a document that proves that the organization has consultative status of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC)
The legal representation document (last one in the list above) is vital for getting your visa. Without it you risk going back home with the same blank pages in your passport.
After you’ve gathered all the documents you can start your application.
First, go to the Online Visa Application System from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and fill in the forms, upload the photo and the documents. After submitting your form, you will receive an e-mail confirming your application.
If you lack documentation or add incorrect information in the form, you will receive an e-mail saying Solicitud Visa inadmitida, in which you’ll find the details about what you need to correct (after you panic for at least five minutes as I did).
The next step is to forward this email plus the payment receipt (if you pay online) attached to the email address of the Embassy you are applying for. The procedure to issue a Visa in this Embassy is to go there in person to pay the fee in the exact amount (154 euro, $205).
If you pay online, the payment must be made the same day the receipt is generated. If not, you have to request a new receipt (maximum two days after the initial request). Also, you need an active Colombian bank account to use PSE, the electronic payment system available for this.
I would suggest you to pay in person at the Embassy if possible, to avoid any complications. Somebody from Bogotá used PSE to pay for my Visa so they told me only the Group of Visas in Bogotá can issue my Visa. I had to apply again and then fly to Warsaw to pay and get my Visa.
The last step is to contact the Primary Secretary in charge of the consular function to set up a meeting to get your Visa printed and you’re done. You’ll have to answer a few questions on what are you going to do in Colombia, why did you choose the country and so on.
Hint: showing that you know something about Colombia is a plus. Do some research before. It’s always good to have detailed information about the places you’re about to travel. Also, Colombians are proud people so hearing others say nice things about and show interest in their country will only make things better than they are.
You should start the application process at least one week before buying your plane ticket and make sure you keep in touch with the embassy at which you are applying for your Visa.
I got my Visa from the Embassy of Colombia in Poland, as there is none in Romania (where I’m from). A European citizen can apply for it at any Colombian Embassy in Europe but I recommend you to find out the issue time of the Visa, as in some embassies it might take more than a day (in Wien, for example, it takes up to two to three days) .
In Warsaw you get it in 15 minutes if you have all the documents with you. Plus, the Primary Secretary in Warsaw is an amazing Colombian woman who’ll make you leave the embassy with hugs, bags of promotional materials about Colombia, and an even higher level of excitement to get to this country as soon as possible.
Good luck in getting your Visa! And most of all, in trying to avoid the “risk of wanting to stay,” which I guarantee you’ll take in your first couple of days here.