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Colombia plans to introduce visa for 'digital nomads'

25 January 2022

Foreigners wishing to work in Colombia on a permanent basis must, as a rule, have a regular employment contract with a company based in Colombia. Under this condition, a so-called "visa de migrante como trabajador" can be considered in principle, provided that the Colombian employer can convincingly demonstrate the necessity of the employment relationship with the foreigner (protection of the Colombian labor market) and meets certain minimum financial requirements.

The "visa de visitante para prestar servicios temporales a persona natural o jurídica in Colombia" could be described as a "work visa light". In this type of visa, even employment through a services agreement / freelancer contract is possible and there are no rigid minimum financial requirements. However, even in these cases, the visa is usually only approved if the service relationship is with a company based in Colombia.

Thus, there is a problem under current immigration regulations for foreigners who wish to work permanently for a foreign company from Colombia, either as employees or as freelancers. It is true that in such cases a visa as a self-employed person (visa de migrante como independiente) is conceivable. However, the latter usually fails due to the high formal hurdles, in particular the recognition of the foreign educational qualification required for the self-employed visa via the Colombian National Ministry of Education in Bogotá (so-called convalidación).

Following a draft resolution to amend visa regulations from late 2021, the Colombian government is now apparently considering relaxing immigration rules for foreign workers and freelancers.

In particular, the draft provides for the introduction of a visa for so-called digital nomads (nómadas digitales) within the "visa de visitante" category. The prerequisite for this visa is, among other things, a letter from the foreign company in which it explains in detail the type of employment and amount of remuneration of the "digital nomad". In addition, the "digital nomad" should credibly demonstrate certain minimum balances and cash-flow in his bank statement.

The draft clarifies that this visa only allows work via digital means of communication or the Internet on behalf of foreign companies. During the duration of this visa, the "digital nomad" must not work for Colombian companies or perform "offline work" in Colombia. The duration of the visa is to be limited to a maximum of two years.

Furthermore, according to the draft resolution the digital nomad visa is to be open to self-employed entrepreneurs who wish to establish a company in Colombia in the field of digital media / information technologies, provided that the specific business of the company is, at the discretion of the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in the interest of Colombia.

Colombia intends to use these generous new immigration regulations to gain a competitive advantage through the influx of IT professionals. It can be eagerly awaited whether the Colombian Foreign Ministry will pass the draft resolution as presented.