The Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs adopted Resolution 5477 on July 22, 2022, fundamentally reforming Colombia's immigration laws. The resolution will take effect on October 20, 2022, and replaces the previously applicable Resolution 6045 of 2017. Resolution 5477 maintains the division into three different visa categories - residente (R), migrante (M), and visitante (V). The residente visa (R visa) grants a basically lifetime permanent residence permit including a general work permit. Under the new Resolution 5477, it will become more difficult for investors to obtain an R visa.
Under the previous legal situation, it was possible to immediately apply for an R visa by way of a foreign direct investment - such as the purchase of real estate or contribution to the share capital of a Colombian company. The prerequisite for this was essentially that a foreign direct investment of at least COP $650,000,000 was proven (as of 2022) and that the investment was duly registered with the Colombian Central Bank (Banco de la República) in the name of the respective foreign investor. In this way, in principle, even those investors could apply for an R visa who previously had no significant connection to Colombia nor have ever spent a substantial time in Colombia.
According to the new legal situation, the R visa for investors (visa de residente por inversión extranjera directa) can no longer be applied for as of October 20, 2022. As from that date, new foreign investors will have to switch to the migrant visa (M visa) category, more precisely to the migrant visa for company shareholders and real estate owners (visa M socio o propietario). Instead of the minimum investment of COP $650,000,000 previously required for the R visa, the M visa requires a minimum investment of COP $350,000,000 (as of 2022). Unlike the R visa, the M visa does not grant a permanent residence permit; instead, the M visa is issued for a temporary stay (usually 1, 2, or 3 years). The M visa can be reapplied for shortly before expiration if its requirements are still met at the time of reapplication. After five years of uninterrupted possession of the M visa, it is still possible to switch to an R visa (visa R por tiempo acumulado de permanencia en Colombia).
According to Article 123 of Resolution 5477, visas issued before the entry into force of the new regime remain valid. Therefore, anyone who manages to successfully apply for an R visa through a foreign direct investment before October 20, 2022, will be able to keep it in the future.
The Colombian government's decision to stop investors from immediately obtaining a lifetime permanent residence permit is likely to be less than encouraging for new foreign investors compared to the previous legal situation. On the other hand, the M visa continues to be an alternative that allows a long-term stay in Colombia by investment and eventually can lead to residence. Those who meet the requirements for obtaining an R visa under the current legal situation should, at best, take action before the new regulation comes into force in order to secure the R for foreign investors as long as this visa type is still available.