The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in Colombia has recently announced that a new immigration statute, “DECRETO 0834” will be implemented in order to modernise and consolidate the existing immigration rules.
The new legislation will come into force from the 24th June 2013 and will involve the removal of certain existing visa categories and amalgamation of others. Although there do not appear to be any substantial changes to how the immigration processes will operate in practice, the statute does provide greater detail than previously as to the types of activity a foreigner is allowed to carry out in Colombia under the different visa categories.
While we have not yet received guidance from MOFA regarding the new application procedures and documentary requirements, we have summarised the key changes contained in the new statute.
Changes to Visa Classifications
The six classifications of work/residence visas which are currently open to foreign nationals seeking to work or live in Colombia will be consolidated into three categories:
- Business (NE)
- Temporary (TP)
- Resident (RE)
Each of these categories will then contain various subcategories as follows:
Business (NE) visas
- Contains four subcategories (NE-1 to 4) which cover different business activities. For example, an NE-1 visa allows the holder to carry out commercial and business efforts, promote economic exchange a company. The NE-2 visa is for temporary visitors covered by existing international agreements.
Temporary (TP) visas
- Thirteen subcategories (TP-1 to 13), of which TP-4 corresponds to the Temporary Work Visa, which will be used for intra-company transfers. This visa will be issued for up to three years per application, rather than the 12 months maximum duration currently allowed, dependent on the assignment duration.
Resident (RE) visas
- Resident visas are granted to foreign nationals seeking to live permanently in Colombia and who fulfil certain requirements, such as being related to a Colombian national or following completion of five years” residence in Colombia on a qualifying TP visa.
Registrations and Notifications
The new statute confirms that:
- All foreign nationals granted a visa for more than three months must register with the Migracion Colombia;
- Companies must notify the authorities when hiring a new foreign national employee and when the contract of a foreign employee is terminated within 30 days;
- Changes of residential address, activities in Colombia or of the personal status of a foreign national must also be communicated to Migracion Colombia.