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Will Colombia abolish the resident visa for investors?

17 January 2022

Until now, it has been comparatively easy to obtain a permanent residence permit (visa de residente) in Colombia as a foreign investor. The prerequisite is to make a so-called foreign direct investment in the amount of at least 650 Colombian monthly minimum wages (currently - as of 2022 - COP $650,000,000), such as the purchase of a property for ownership.

Government plans to make permanent residency more difficult

However, this could soon change. According to a draft resolution published by the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the end of 2021 to comprehensively rewrite the current visa regulations, the resident visa for investors is to be abolished. It is unclear whether and when this draft will be passed in this form. Based on experience, however, it can be assumed that the draft resolution with its essential content will be adopted in the form of a legally valid resolution in the course of the coming months.

Visa de residente vs. visa de migrante

Foreign investors acquiring real estate in Colombia for the first time would then only be able to apply for the so-called visa de migrante (visa M inversionista) ("small investor visa"), which has a few disadvantages compared to the resident visa (Visa R). For example, with the visa M you can only be away from Colombia for six months at a time without the visa expiring. The Visa R allows two years of absence at a stretch from Colombia. Also, unlike the Visa R, the Visa M does not include an unrestricted work permit. Finally, the Visa M is only valid for a limited period and must be reapplied for periodically, shortly before its respective expiration date, in a timely manner.

Grandfathering of valid visas

Foreigners interested in obtaining a long-term residence status in Colombia through a real estate investment are therefore advised to implement this plan as soon as possible, especially since the draft resolution contains a provision according to which R visas issued prior to the entry into force of the new regulation generally retain their validity.