In the wake of Resolution 5477, dated July 22, 2022, of the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (reform of Colombian Visa Regulations), there is a clear restriction with regard to the visa of foreign parents of children with Colombian citizenship (hereinafter simplified as "parent visa").
The previous legal situation
Until now, foreigners who could prove that they were the parent of a child with Colombian citizenship could apply for a resident visa, i.e., a basically lifelong residence permit. Essentially, all that was required as proof was:
- The Colombian birth certificate (registro nacional de nacimiento) of the child, in which the foreign parent/applicant for the visa is registered as the father or mother of the child in addition to the Colombian parent.
- A certificate signed by the Colombian parent stating that the foreign parent/applicant for the visa fulfills his or her child support obligations.
Apart from these two formal requirements it was not necessary to prove that the foreign applicant has any local connection to Colombia apart from the child. Nor was it necessary to prove certain income or financial background. This generous rule is now obsolete with the entry into force of Resolution 5477.
Migrant visa instead of resident visa
According to the new legal situation, parents of Colombian children can only apply for the so-called migrant visa (visa M padre o madre de nacional colombiano por nacimiento). Only after two years of uninterrupted possession of this migrant visa is it possible to switch to the resident visa.
In addition to downgrading the parental visa from resident to migrant visa status, Resolution 5477 contains some new requirements beyond the formal requirements mentioned above.
- Certificates issued by the Colombian Immigration Office (Migración Colombia) for both parents regarding entries and exits to Colombia in the five years preceding the filing of the visa application must be presented (so-called certificados de movimientos migratorios). This new requirement will complicate the visa process for applicants living abroad, because Migración Colombia will generally only issue this certificate to the respective applicant in person at their office. Representation by proxy in Colombia is possible, but only with a duly certified and, if necessary, apostilled special power of attorney. It may be presumed that parent visas may not be issued in the future if one or both parents have their habitual residence essentially abroad according to the certificates issued by Migración Colombia.
- Bank statements of the foreign parent/applicant of the visa for the last six months prior to application must be submitted. Evidence of how the foreign parent supports themselves, such as an employment contract, pension certificate, or similar, must also be provided. This new requirement indicates that in the future, parent visa applications could be denied if the foreign parent does not provide credible evidence of substantial, regular income.
- The foreign parent must provide a copy of the Colombian visa of which he or she was the holder at the time of the child's birth. This new requirement leaves open the question of how to treat the case in which the foreign parent did not have a visa at all at the time of the child's birth. In fact, this case is likely to be the most common. The new provision suggests that in such cases, a parent visa may not be issued in the future, which would be a significant restriction. In such cases, foreign parents would then have to apply for another type of visa, such as a work visa, to live in Colombia.
Resolution 5477 establishes a significantly more restrictive framework for the parent visa compared to the previous regime. This stems from the change in status of the visa (henceforth migrant visa instead of resident visa) on the one hand, and on the other hand from the new requirements in terms of local connection to Colombia, proof of income, and the fact that the wording of the new regulations requires that the foreigner already had another valid visa when the child was born. How the new regulations will be interpreted in practice remains to be seen with anticipation. However, the automatism that a child of Colombian citizenship, in principle, allows the foreign parent to obtain a visa, seems to have been abolished in any case.