Congratulations on making the decision to live and work in Colombia! We think you’ll find, as many other foreigners have, that Colombia offers a high quality of living and a variety of business opportunities.
Now comes the paperwork. You want to make sure you follow the proper procedures to establish yourself and your business legally in Colombia. We have helped hundreds of ex-pats choose and apply for visas and set up their businesses, and we’re confident in our ability to help you do the same.
It seems like a great plan: move to Colombia and get a job. However, a Colombian work visa might not be the easiest way for you to support yourself and get permission to stay long-term in Colombia. Like most countries in the world, Colombia protects its jobs for its citizens, so it’s not a simple matter for a foreigner to simply move to Colombia and start working.
However, it’s not impossible if you meet the Colombia work visa requirements.
Requirements For the Colombian Work Visa:
This process requires a number of documents and materials, including photos, the Colombian work visa application, a copy of your contract, a letter from your employer, a certificate proving the company’s existence, a letter from the Colombian Social Protection Ministry confirming your company’s respect of the established proportion of Colombian and foreign employees, and more.
Understanding the Colombian Work Visa
The work visa in Colombia is the TP-4. People who use this visa are foreign workers who are sponsored by a Colombian company.
Qualified Professionals Only
The Colombian work visa is reserved for qualified professionals who will be working directly for a Colombian corporation. You will likely have to prove your professional credentials, and the company you’re going to work for needs to show solid bank balances over the last six months.
If you happen to have a Colombia work contract with a new company, your sponsoring company will have to show a significant amount of money in the bank to prove it can cover its operating expenses. The company must have an average balance over the course of six months that is equal to (or more than) 100 minimum salaries. In 2016, that amounts to 69 million pesos.
Possible exceptions: New companies owned by multinationals or supported by wealthy shareholders overseas may be able to show balances overseas that comply. This is subjective and must be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Furthermore, the job activity of the foreign worker must be related to the company’s activity. This prevents a business-owning friend from doing you a favor by sponsoring you so you can get a visa, even though the company actually has no need for your services.
If this is not you, you might want to consider some of the other Colombian visas that come with work privileges.
Types of Colombian Visas With Work Privileges:
The Colombian work visa is one of the most difficult to obtain, in part because of the financial requirements discussed above. With a college degree and a job offer in your field, you might be eligible for the Colombian work visa. If not, but you know you want to work in this country, you might consider other types of visas that come with work privileges. These include:
TP-10: Colombian Marriage Visa
TP-13: Technical Services Visa
RE: Padres Visa (if you are the parent of a Colombian national)
The two most common alternatives to the work visa are the marriage visa and the business visa, and we often suggest our clients take that route if we’re not positive they will qualify for the work visa. Creating your own company in Colombia requires an investment of as little as US$3000 to qualify for a business owner’s visa.
Other Options: Religious and Volunteer Visas
There are two visas that allow you to work, but not to receive money in exchange for that work. These are the TP-5 (religious visa) and TP-6 (volunteer visa). You can, however, receive room and board in exchange for your services.
The religious visa, of course, must be sponsored by a church. Interestingly, it must be a Catholic church. If any other type of church is sponsoring your visa, you will have to get a volunteer visa instead. Working for a non-profit organization also qualifies you for the volunteer visa but again, you must not receive money in exchange for your help.
How We Can Help:
Colombia Legal & Accounting reviews your unique situation and can tell you which visa is most suitable to your needs. Contact us for more information or to get started on your path to a Colombian work visa.
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