Visas and Work Permits 8 min

Work permits and visas in Colombia: an employer’s guide

Written by Sally Flaxman
April 29, 2024
Sally Flaxman


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If you’re looking for top talent in Latin America, Colombia is a popular destination to consider hiring from. However, hiring new team members in Colombia or relocating existing employees to the country is not without its challenges.

You must make sure team members have the right work permits and visas to live and work legally in the country. Remaining compliant with all labor and immigration laws is essential to ensure your company isn't fined or penalized for mistakes. That's why many companies choose to work with an employer of record (EOR) that can take on the legal challenges of hiring and paying workers in Colombia.

In this article, we’re going to take you through the work permits and visa process to hire or relocate an employee to Colombia. We’ll also explain how you can use  an EOR like Remote to compliantly, quickly, and affordably hire employees in Colombia and all over the world.

The importance of immigration compliance Colombia

In Colombia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for ensuring that foreign individuals working in Colombia have obtained all of the necessary visas and permits. Performing work authorization checks on employees is an essential component of foreign hiring. You and your employee can be legally and financially accountable if a mistake is made.

If the employee is a digital nomad, they will need to be cautious about which visas they obtain in each country. Many digital nomads try to work while on a tourist visa, but this visa type often does not entitle individuals to work in foreign countries. As digital nomadism is becoming more popular, many countries are beginning to strictly enforce laws against working on a tourist visa.

Which workers need a work authorization check in Colombia?

Performing a work authorization check on employees who want to move to Colombia is only necessary if the employee is not a Colombian citizen. 

For a non-citizen employee relocating to Colombia, employers must perform a work authorization check as it indicates whether the employee is legally entitled to work in Colombia. These workers may include:

  • Temporary residents: Any temporary resident in Colombia must possess a worker visa ("V" visa) or a migrant visa ("M" visa). These visas entitle employees to live and work in Colombia for a Colombian employer for up to three years. 

  • Permanent residents: Permanent residents in Colombia need to hold a resident visa ("RE" visa). This visa entitles employees to live and work in Colombia indefinitely. 

  • Work permit holders: Digital nomads can live in Colombia and work for short periods. A digital nomad visa ("V" visa) allows the visa holder to stay in Colombia for roughly six months within a year. When workers have this visa, they do not need to be working for a Colombian employer. 

By performing work authorization checks, you can ensure that employees have obtained all the necessary documents to begin working in Colombia compliantly. 

Conducting these checks can be a hassle as it involves reviewing paperwork and following applicable employment laws. This process can become easier if you partner with an EOR that can support you through the hiring and immigration process.

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Do non-citizens need a work visa or work permit in Colombia?

All non-citizen individuals who want to live and work in Colombia need a visa that matches their specific requirements. This includes the length of time they plan to spend in the country, their country of origin, and what jobs they will perform while living there. 

Individuals who want to live and work in Colombia need to possess one of the following types of visas:

  • A work visitor visa ("V" visa): This visa is available for anyone who plans to work while visiting Colombia. Individuals with this visa can stay in Colombia for 180 days of the year. 

  • A migrant visa ("M" visa): A migrant visa is available for individuals who want to move to Colombia for an extended period and work while living there. Individuals with a migrant visa can stay in Colombia for anywhere from 180 days to three years.

  • A resident visa ("RE" visa): A long-term visa that entitles the visa holder to live and work in Colombia for more than three years. 

  • A digital nomad visa ("V" visa): Entitles visa holders to enter and work in Colombia for up to 180 days of the year without needing to work for a Colombian employer. 

What are the eligibility requirements for a work visa in Colombia?

Eligibility requirements for a work visa in Colombia are broad, and individuals belonging to numerous groups may be eligible for a Colombian work visa. Individuals meeting any of the following criteria are eligible to apply for a work visa in Colombia:

  • Independent contractors or self-employed individuals who have been contracted to work by a private or public company in Colombia 

  • Individuals who belong to a group such as a sports team, artistic community, or cultural group that is performing activities in Colombia

  • Religious individuals who are coming to Colombia for missionary or volunteer purposes

  • Foreign individuals transferred to Colombia to fulfill a particular role within a company with a local entity in Colombia

  • People who want to continue doing their existing job or practice their specialty while living in Colombia

What are the long-stay visa types in Colombia?

There are two types of long-stay visas that employees who relocate to Colombia can apply for:

  • A migrant visa ("M" visa): This visa is available for employees who want to live in Colombia for up to three years.

  • A resident visa ("RE" visa): This visa allows individuals to remain in Colombia indefinitely.

How do you get a work visa for Colombia?

Employees wishing to relocate to Colombia need to apply for a temporary work visa to be eligible. This visa is approved by Colombia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and can take five days to a month to process. 

To obtain this visa, employees will need the following:

  • Two three-by-three-inch color photos of themself with a white background

  • A signed contract summary form 

  • Certification of your legal entity in Colombia

  • Any other documents requested by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

  • The visa costs $50

Employers may find the process of obtaining a work visa stressful. Consider signing up for Remote's relocation services to simplify this process and make your life easier.

What is the process for employee work visa sponsorship in Colombia?

When employees want to move to Colombia, they will need to be sponsored by a business with a Colombian legal entity to have their work visa approved. This means you need to establish a local entity in Colombia or partner with an EOR like Remote before your employee can apply for their visa. 

Although this process can take a long time and be difficult to navigate, Remote's Mobility team provides your company with our purpose-built relocation services to help move the process along. 

Our relocation services include:

  • Supplying employees with the necessary questionnaires 

  • Filing employee sponsorship 

  • Performing eligibility checks

  • Conducting pre-hire assessments and supplying quotes

  • Onboarding the new employee through Remote's Colombian entity

What are the visa requirements for digital nomads in Colombia?

Colombia has a digital nomad visa called the Working Holiday (WHV) visa for employees who want to travel and work in Colombia for a brief period.

Individuals who possess a WHV can legally live in Colombia for one year while continuing to work for their employer (or themselves). The one year period begins as soon as the individual's visa is approved. Visa eligibility depends on specific factors, including:

  • The employee's age and country of origin

  • Passport validity 

  • Income

  • Criminal history.

How Remote makes compliance in Colombia so much easier

Once you’ve decided to relocate an employee to Colombia or hire a new team member in the country, you’ll have to make sure they have the right documentation to work there legally. Immigration laws can be complicated to navigate while hiring abroad, and you risk facing legal or financial consequences if you fail to comply with local laws.

Partner with Remote and international hiring and relocation can become simple. When you sign up for Remote's EOR services in Colombia, we can hire the employee through our local legal entity and perform all necessary checks on your behalf, which means your company doesn't have to assume any of the risks associated with international hiring. Additionally, Remote can help you handle different processes involved in relocation, including compliance, benefits, payroll processing, immigration, visas and permits, and more. 

Remote’s Mobility team can help you: 

  • Fulfill requirements for work visas and work permits in Colombia

  • Navigate paying and withholding international taxes

  • Avoid permanent establishment risk

  • Comply with Colombian employment laws.

 If you're considering relocating any employees to Colombia, download Remote's Relocation Guide for tips and guidance. You can also contact one of our Mobility gurus if you have questions or to get the process started today! 

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