Feb 15 2019

Restrictive Immigration Law Forthcoming


The situation

A new immigration law that has been released for public comment would create stricter rules concerning Visitor Visa, Migrant Visa and Residence Visa categories, among other items, when finalized. See this chart for details on the proposed changes to the immigration system.

Summary of changes

  • Visitor Visas. Notably, foreign nationals who previously would obtain Migrant Visas for certain activities, including students, would now have to obtain a Visitor Visa. This will affect these foreign nationals’ ability to accumulate time needed to obtain a Resident Visa, since Visitor Visa time does not count toward a Resident Visa.
  • Migrant Visas. Migrant Worker Visas would be limited to those foreign nationals that hold a university degree, closing off the category to foreign nationals with a technical or no degree. Additionally, foreign nationals would only be able to spend 90 consecutive days out-of-country before losing their status, instead of the current 180 days.
  • Resident Visas. Foreign nationals would need to acquire a new Resident Visa based on the current immigration law and Resident Visas would only be valid for 10 years, whereas currently they are valid indefinitely.
  • Mercosur Visas. Mercosur visa applicants and their employers would be subject to stricter documentary requirements, which could prolong the document-gathering time for this visa significantly.
  • Longer processing times/no urgent visas. Foreign nationals would see longer processing times for most visa applications and urgent visa applications would no longer be allowed.
  • Passport validity. Passports would need to be valid for at least six months at the time of their visa application, whereas currently there is no validity verification.
  • Shorter period for visa stamping. Foreign nationals would be required to have their visas stamped in their passport within 15 calendar days of the issuance of the e-visa, whereas currently they have 30 calendar days.



  • New government. A new administration came into power in Colombia in August 2018 that has been creating policies to regulate the high influx of foreign nationals in the past few years, which has increased the workload for the immigration department and caused delays and a shift of immigration work to consulates. The previous government had last overhauled Colombia’s immigration law in December 2017.  
  • Overhaul trend. Other countries in Latin America, including Brazil and Chile, have recently overhauled their immigration systems. The changes have stemmed from changes in government administrations and other political factors.


Looking ahead

  • Next steps. After the public comment period is over, legislators may modify the law based on comments received and will publish the law in the Diario Oficial, which is expected to occur in the following months. The law will go into effect 60 days after publication.
  • Potential foreign national demographic shift. As some of the new guidelines for the visa categories require foreign nationals to have more advanced qualifications, Colombia may see an influx of highly-skilled immigrants to the country. This could also result in higher salaries for local workers as they must be paid the same amount or more than foreign nationals in the same positions.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to [email protected].