COLOMBIA – New Immigration Statute
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Colombia has issued a new immigration statute, Decree 0834, due to be implemented on 24 June 2013. It is not anticipated that the new decree will make substantial changes to how the immigration process will work in practice, but it re-organises some aspects of the immigration system and, importantly, brings all the regulations and obligations for employers together in one place.
Three New Visa Classifications
Firstly, the new decree reduces the number of visa classifications down from six to just three different types of visa:
- Business (NE)
- Temporary (TP)
- Resident (RE)
Within the business visa category, there are four further subcategories (NE1 to 4) for specific scenarios. None of the business visa subcategories authorise the holder to establish residence in Colombia, although it is important to note that two of the subcategories (NE2, for business people covered by international agreements, and NE3, for chiefs or representatives of foreign trade/economic offices and agencies) will authorise the holders to receive payments for services in Colombia.
There are thirteen subcategories under the temporary visa classification, of which TP-4 corresponds to the Temporary Work Visa, which will be used by corporate transferees and employees.
It appears that the TP-4 visa will be issued in increments of up to three years, depending on the contract or assignment duration. Currently, work visas are issued in increments of one year.
A regulatory resolution containing the specific requirements and documents of the TP-4 visa is anticipated shortly.
The resident visas are granted to foreign nationals who have intention to settle in Colombia and who meet certain criteria, for example, are related to a Colombian national, have resided continuously in Colombia on a qualifying temporary visa for at least five years, or who make qualifying investments into Colombia.
Resident visas are granted for up to five years.
The new decree makes it clear that the following family members, if economically dependent on the principal visa holder and able to prove ties, may be considered qualifying dependents:
- Unmarried partner (“permanent companion)
- Children under 25 years old
New Entry Permits
The new decree also creates new categories of entry permits, available for nationals not requiring visas to enter Colombia., and describes in more detail the activities permissible on these permits. However, in practice, entry permits are similar to how they were before.
Entry permits (Permiso de Entrada y Permanencia, or “PIP”) may be granted for up to 90 days (or 30 days in the case of Technical Entry Permits) and may be extended in certain cases.
Note: entry permits do not permit work to be carried out, and are typically for business purposes – apart from the technical entry permit, which allows technical activities which are required urgently to be carried out for up to 30 days only. This permit can be converted into a technical visa for a longer duration only in very limited circumstances.
Registrations and Notifications
The new Decree makes it clear that:
- All foreign nationals holding a visa valid for longer than three months must register at Migracion Colombia
- All companies must make a notification of hiring a new foreign national employee and also of the termination of a contract of a foreign employee within 30 days of the event.
- Any changes of residential address, activities in Colombia or personal status of a foreign national in OClombia must also be communicated to Migracion Colombia.
- Note that a new decree has been passed, coming into force 24 June 2013, which changes certain aspects of the immigration system. Anticipate that there may be some delays while the new system is implemented; however, overall, the decree is a positive step towards the modernisation and simplification of the Colombian immigration system.