The truth is getting a Colombia work visa, also known as Colombia Migrant work visa, was way easier than I thought it to be. I had arrived there with a Colombian tourist visa, and right away decided that I wanted to stay there for a long time.
Soon I landed a paid volunteer opportunity to teach English in Colombia through a government-run program and got a volunteer visa for Colombia. However since the opportunity was only for 2 months without any concrete details of whether they would extend it, I needed to plan ahead.
Getting a job and a work visa was the only way I could continue with my Colombian adventure, without counting days.
Since I already had experience with ESL teaching, I started making rounds of different institutes in Bogota, and applied for jobs in Bogota online and offline. And I landed a job at a prominent institute in a couple of weeks. The institute sponsored my Colombia work visa.
So if you are planning on teaching English in Colombia for long term, you need to get a M category Colombia working visa.
Here is how everything went. A detailed guide for applying for any Colombia visa online is available here. Although I applied for a work visa to teach English in Colombia, the process is the same irrespective of your profession. As long as you will have a job in Colombia, it will be the same.
Step 1: Apply Colombia Work Visa Online
Colombia has a centralized website(SITAC) where you can apply for any kind of visa online. No matter what visa you apply and wherever you apply from, your application would go through SITAC Colombia.
However, if you are applying from outside of Colombia, find out whether the country you are applying from has a consulate or embassy of Colombia.
Once you fill in your passport number and other details, you need to choose the type of visa and activity.
Here are a few tips that will help in filling the application.
- Type of Visa: Migrant(M)
- Activity of Visa: Worker
- Academic Training: Your educational qualification and specialization
- Address: Your most recent address if you are applying from a different country and your address in Colombia. If you are already in Colombia, you need to fill in just that.
- Employment Information
You need to fill in your occupation in Colombia, the position that the employer is offering and other details of your employer. For the information in this section, it’s best to consult with the employer.
Step 2: Gather Requirements for Colombia Work Visa
Colombia working visa requirements are pretty straightforward, although depending on your job and employer, they might ask for new documents.
Here are all the documents you need to submit for a Colombia work visa. Make sure that everything is in PDF format.
Colombia Visa Photo Size
It must be a 4 X 3 Color photograph in a white background. Please look directly at the camera and verify that the head is in the center. Eyes must be opened. Nothing can cover the face. The photo should be of a maximum 300 kb jpg.
Documents: 3 MBs in total
All the documents must be submitted in PDF format. Here is a screenshot from the SITAC website.
Documents for the Colombia Migrant Work Visa from my side
- Bio page of my passport
- Copy of the existing visa- If you are already in Colombia on a visa, you must upload a copy of the visa. In my case, I uploaded my volunteer visa.
- Entry stamp when entering to Colombia to ensure that I was not in violation of the visa norms
- Educational certificate- There is no need for this to be apostilled. You can upload the original copy of the certificate.
- TEFL certificate
- Address proof for Colombia since I was already in Colombia. I submitted a copy of my electricity bill for this.
- Original contract from the employer
- Bank statements of the employer corresponding to the six months prior to the visa application. The employer must demonstrate average monthly income of 100 times the legal monthly minimum wages during the six months prior to the application when it is a legal entity.
- Document to prove that your employer has been paying the taxes
- Employer motivation letter
Although by using a scanner app like iScanner, you can get a PDF of the documents, I would recommend you to go to one of those places where you can print/scan documents, to make sure that the image quality is not bad.
I made the mistake of taking pics of a couple of documents and submitting them. My employer asked me to resubmit those.
Step 3: Pay the Visa Study Fees for Colombia Work Visa
Once you are done with uploading all the documents, the next step is to pay the fees for the ministry to study your visa. The cost to study the visa is 52$.
After saving the application, you need to choose the nearest consulate and the medium of payment. It’s different for every consulate.
I chose the nearest consulate as Bogota. My employer made the payment for the visa study fees. If you are making the payment, you can go to a sucursal Banco Colombia Sucursal or SERVIBANCA ATM in Colombia. If you are doing it from another country, you need to check with the embassy.
Step 4: Colombia Visa Interview
The thing is an interview is not mandatory for a Colombia work visa. Since the visa application is being submitted by an employer and not you, you don’t have to worry about getting called for an interview if you are travelling or far away.
They call you for an interview only when they want to clarify something or have any doubts about your application. Having said all this, I would say it’s better to be available in case they call you. You know, don’t be hiking in the Lost City or be in the Amazon without cellphone towers.
I was called for an interview in Cancilleria in Bogota merely a week after I submitted my application. The reason? I was volunteering at a school under a government and my contract had not ended at the time I applied for the work visa for Colombia.
They wanted to see whether I was going to resign from that position.
Thankfully I had my existing contract with me. I showed them the contract for the volunteering position, and had to prove that my new job would start a month after the contract for the old job expires.
Apart from that all the questions were simple. My interview was in Spanish since I spoke it. But if you don’t, they can do it in English.
If you go for an interview, it’s better to take the printouts of all the documents you uploaded and any extra documents that you think makes sense.
Cancileria in Bogota:-
Address: Avenida Carrera 19 No. 98-03 Edificio Torre 100, 3rd Floor.
Office hours Monday to Friday:
Interview timing : 7:30 a.m. to 12:00 pm.
Visa stamping done directly by the visa holder: 7:30 a.m. to 12:00 pm.
Visa stamping done by power of attorney: 11:00 a.m. to 12::00 pm.
Step 5: Pay Colombia Work Visa Fees and Get it Stamped
Once I got the green signal after the interview, the only step left was to make the payment. I went to a Banco GNB Sudameris close by and made the payment of $230 in Colombian pesos. You can also make the payment in a Servibanca ATM or PSE in Colombia.
You can also pay using a credit card if you are in Bogota cancileria. However, they charge a service fee if you pay using a credit card.
Once done, I reentered with my passport and the payment receipt. They asked me to leave the passport and I went back the next day to pick it up.
What’s Colombia Electronic visa?
When your visa is issued, you get an email containing the visa in Electronic format. You can use this as a backup in case you are unable to make a visit to the consulate for the visa sticker.
You can enter Colombia with an electronic visa in your email without the visa sticker on your passport. Make sure to carry a printout.
If your migrant work visa for Colombia has been issued for less than three (3) months, you can enter, stay, and leave the country showing your electronic visa, without printing it over the passport.
But if it’s for more than 3 months, you need to get it printed in the Bogotá VISAS office. And you should do that within 2 months from the date the visa is issued.
If you ask me, it’s much better to get it printed at the consulate to avoid any future mishaps. So if you got time, just do it.
Colombia Work Visa fees: – 282$ in total ( 52$ for study + 230$ for processing)
Visa duration :- Depends on the length of your contract. Mine was for one year and I got it for one near
Visa validity :- The visa was valid from the day it was issued.
No. of entries :- Multiple
That’s all about how I got the Colombian work visa.
Thanks very much for the clear and precise information. I was under the impression that the documents were to be apostilled even in this pandemic.
Apologies, My name is Abhilash and I just saw your post and I’m responding to the Colombian Work Visa type. I have 15+ years of Exp in IT and was recently offered a job in Colombia .. So was eager to know the process. your post has made it much simpler than I imagined it would be
I went to a Banco GNB Sudameris close by and made the payment of $230 in Colombian pesos. You can also make the payment in a Servibanca ATM or PSE in Colombia.
Tim Y says
If someone enters under a retired pensioner visa, I read that they can’t “work.” Can they start their own business? Is owning your own business and working in it considered employment?
Deb Pati says
It depends on where the business is. If the business is outside of Colombia, you pretty much don’t have a lot to worry about. If it is a Colombian business, you need to register it. There are some gray areas but it is possible.
Mackenzie Pederson says
Hello! This information was very helpful, thank you so much! I will be entering Colombia on a tourist visa (the one they stamp when you arrive in the country) and will then sign the contract for my job. Will I be able to open a bank account and begin renting an apartment while I apply and wait for my M5 visa?
Deb Pati says
Yes, you can definitely rent an apartment with a tourist visa. Now, coming to the bank account part, you probably need to make a few visits to different branches of different banks. Some branches of the same bank allow you to open an account with a tourist visa, while some would need your cedula.
All the best.