If you are planning to teach English in Colombia you might want to start planning your paperwork to get your work visa in Colombia. The Colombian work visa is intended for foreigners who have a job in Colombia, and the visa is relatively easy to get once you have found a job and a company to sponsor you.
When searching for a job to teach English in Latin America make sure your future employer does provide visa sponsorship. You can get a work visa in Colombia whether you want to apply for a teaching position or a different job, and failing to have a work visa would put you in a very risky scenario with the authorities in Colombia if you are working illegally. Let’s take a look at the main types of work visas, the requirements, and the budget so that you can get started from your home country.
Applying for a work visa: 3 types of visas in Colombia
Colombia changed its visa rules in December 2017 to create several different visa types. The three main visa alternatives include:
Visitor “V” type visa: Meant for visitors entering the country without permanent establishment.
Migrant “M” type visa: Perfect for those who want to enter Colombia and live there temporarily.
Resident “R” type visa: A visa for individuals establishing themselves in Colombia permanently.
M visas are the most common among expats for reasons such as marriage, investment, retirement, work, and educational studies. Individuals must meet certain requirements to obtain an M visa, such as maintaining permanent employment,having a spouse or partner who’s a Colombian resident, or coming to Colombia as a missionary. These visas are typically valid for three years. Unlike other migrant visas, visa V and M can be valid for the duration of an employment contract but no more than 3 years. Work visa applicants must keep in mind that they can only apply for a work visa if their credentials meet the job requirement, the work activity of the visa applicant must be related to the employer’s business activity, and there is a need to hire a foreign worker.
In case of holding an M visa for at least five years, foreign nationals can receive an R visa. Once an individual holds an R visa for five more years, they can apply to become a Colombian citizen. Since the country permits dual-citizenship, individuals won’t need to deal with visas or give up citizenship in another country. This option also provides MERCOSUR trade block benefits, as members don’t need a passport or visa to travel around the region.
What requirements do you need to meet toapply for a work visa?
The requirements for a working visa in Colombia vary by visa type. That said, most require a job offer from a local employer to start. Once the employee and employer sign a contract, they can start the application process. In addition to the employment contract, applicants will need a letter of motivation from the employer, bank statements, a photocopy of a valid passport, and a passport-style photo.
In the case of being interested in applying for an English teaching position, you have to provide a copy of your Bachelors degree and also a teaching certificate such as: TEFL, CELTA or DELTA. Both documents must be provided otherwise your application will be denied.
Principal documents required for a work visa in Colombia through employment
We’ve covered several options on how to get a Colombian visa, but we are going to focus on the work visa through company sponsorship. To start the process you’ll need a job offer from a local employer. In addition to the employment contract and the documents mentioned above you’ll need some extra documents such as:
A copy of the first page of your valid passport where your personal data is clearly displayed.
A copy of the page of your passport with the last stamp of entry or departure of Colombia.
If you’ve had a previous Colombian visa, a copy of this visa.
Summary format of work contract established by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The visa authority may demand the presentation of the original work contract when the information registered in the form is not sufficient, presents inconsistencies, or requires clarification.
A copy of your Bachelors and/or Masters degree.
A copy of your English teaching certificate (TEFL, CELTA, DELTA)
Apostilled academic degree from the country of origin, as well as experience certificates also apostilled. Subsequently, in Colombia, an official translation into Spanish must be made.
International health insurance policy certificate showing you have an international health insurance policy that covers you. This policy should be valid for at least a year since the validity time of your visa is dependent on the validity time of your international health insurance.
A headshot (collar bone up, with good lighting) on a white backdrop/wall for your VISA picture (in 300 MB or under JPG).
Your sponsoring company will have to provide a series of documents as well. The main requests include:
A letter with the intention to sponsor the visa
Chamber of Commerce registration
The identification of the legal representative
6 months bank statements
Once again, your future employer should have clear these requirements. If they don’t demonstrate their knowledge, be sure to properly research the company and make sure they have the ability to sponsor your work visa in Colombia. Unfortunately, we have heard of several horror stories where people had their visa denied because the company didn’t have clear what the requirements were nor what documents were needed.
Teacher writing on the board
How much should you invest in your work visa?
Before applying for a work visa in Colombia think of the expenses you will have. We recommend making a budget for paperwork purposes:
Apostille: Getting your documents legalized doesn’t have to cost a lot of money if you know what you’re doing. The actual fees for an apostille vary from country to country, but usually is around $20 USD per document.
Translations: The translation of your bachelor’s degree and apostille might cost you around $50 USD per document. Remember these translations into Spanish are mandatory for your visa application.
Visa Study: Once you have completed and submitted your documents it’s time for submitting your application, this is the visa study. This study is for the ministry to review and approve your documentation in order to issue your visa. This study costs approximately $53 USD.
Visa: The issuance of your visa will cost $175 USD. You will receive this official document electronically.
Cèdula: Every foreigner with a visa good for more than three months needs to apply and obtain a foreigner’s identity card at a regional office. You must obtain the card within 15 days of entering Colombia or 15 days after your visa was issued. The fee for this ID is about $53 USD.
Don’t panic if you’re thinking it is a lot of money! Some of the schools, academies or companies will pay for these expenses and deduct it from your salary. That would be a good option for those who cannot afford these expenses all at once, so be sure to ask your future employer about their policy.
Bringing it all together for your work visa
Once all the documents are properly compiled, the sponsoring company will upload the application through the Cancillería Colombia. This process has to be done by the company, yet all notifications are required to be sent to the visa applicants email. Once the application is uploaded, be sure to check your email (as well as your spam folder) to see if any extra requirements are requested!
The Colombian visa process is quite easy, assuming you follow the required documentation and pay close attention to the details. And, if you are interested in teaching English in Colombia, we would love to have you get in contact with us to get the process started.