How to obtain Residency in Colombia

obtain residency in colombia

There are many reasons to obtain residency in beautiful Colombia:


What are the Residency options in Colombia?

It’s important to understand that there is a lot of wrong information online as the immigration laws were changed in a heavy way in September 2022.

Migrant visas are granted for 3 years. You must show up at least once every 6 months in Colombia to keep the visa active. At year 3 you can renew your visa if you still fit the original criteria. After 5 years, you can apply for “(Permanent) Residency”.

The most common 3-year Migrant Visas

1. Retirement migrant visa

If you can demonstrate 3 minimum wages (about $800) per month, then you are eligible for a retirement migrant visa. The regular pension payments must come from a government source or from widely recognized private pension providers.

2. Real estate migrant visa

If you purchase Colombian real estate for at least 350 minimum wages (about $114,000), then you quality for a real estate migrant visa. It’s known as the cheap real estate option.

3. Other migrant visas

Starting a small business, marriage to a local, getting a job, etc. There are many options.

The most common 5-year (permanent) Residency option

Investing in a business or in real estate can help you obtain (permanent) residency in Colombia

You must invest about 350 minumum wages (about $114,000) in Colombian real estate. This will grant you and your family a 3 year migrant visa which is renewable as long as you keep the property. At year 5 you apply to change your migrant visa into (permanent) Residency.

After 5 years of (permanent) residency you can apply Colombian citizenship (a total timeline of 10 years).

It’s very important to note that to keep your migrant visa active, you need to go to Colombia every 6 months even if just for a day, or else you lose the migrant visa. Once a (permanent) resident, this requirement changes to once every 2 years.

Meet my lawyer Alan

My lawyer Alan and his team will take good care of you. He is a US-based attorney that has a law firm in both New York and in Colombia. His team is used to working with foreigners and helping them obtain residency in Colombia. His prices are surprisingly affordable as he has made the process as efficient as possible.

His team will help you apply, help you choose the proper documents to gather, fill out the paperwork, get your documents translated, and help you get the Cedula (ID card)

Watch the Youtube video below that I recorded with him in which we discuss the various immigration options to Colombia, and some little-known facts on the topic.

Contact Alan to get Residency in Colombia and get the free brochures

Full transcript of “How to Obtain Residency in Colombia”

LADISLAS MAURICE: Hello, everyone. Ladislas Maurice from So today, I’m with Alan, my US attorney based here in Medellín in Colombia. Alan, how are you?

ALAN: I’m good. Good to see you.

LADISLAS MAURICE: Yeah. Good to see you.

ALAN: Yeah.

2022 changes to Colombian immigration law

LADISLAS MAURICE: So today, we’re going to be discussing how to obtain residency in Colombia, because there have been some changes that were implemented in September, correct?

ALAN: Yes. So in September, new rules came into play. This is the first major change in the visa regime in Colombia for many, many years. And it was pretty drastic.

LADISLAS MAURICE: So before, specifically for real estate investors, you could obtain what was called a residency visa, which meant that if you invested approximately $160,000, plus or minus, you would get a five-year residency visa. Now this option is gone. Correct?

How to obtain a Migrant Visa or Residency in Colombia through Real Estate Investment

ALAN: Gone, kaput. So, and let me back up even a little bit further. So a lot of people misuse, or at least they confuse terms. So it doesn’t mean you can’t come to Colombia and live in Colombia, right. Previously, under the old rules, there were two types of visas for people who wanted to buy property. The first type was called the Migrant Visa. And if you were to invest above $90,000, $95,000 this year, you could get a three-year Migrant Visa. And with that visa, you can come in and out as much as you want. It’s just a normal visa. You could come and live in Colombia, if you wanted to. You could get a new Migrant Visa for another three years and, in year five, you can then get residency, right? So you can still do that visa. That visa hasn’t changed very much, it still exists. What has changed is that, previously, you could invest the one-hundred-sixty you mentioned earlier, or there abouts, and get immediate residency. You could cut the line, you don’t have to wait the five years, you can just get immediate residency, and that’s gone.

So if you’re investing in real estate, your one go-to strategy is to now go back to the Migrant Visa strategy, which keeps you in Colombia. You would have to apply a couple of more times, and you will eventually get official residency, which some people want. But in practical terms, for most investors, it really doesn’t change much. You get basically the same thing you would get with the residency visa. You could come to Colombia, you can live in Colombia, you can leave and come back. There are some serious differences. But in general, for most investors, it’s basically not a big difference.

LADISLAS MAURICE: So for wandering investors, such as myself, the previous residency visa meant that I would just need to check into Colombia every two years for the residency to remain active.

ALAN: Yeah.

LADISLAS MAURICE: But with the Migrant Visa, I cannot leave Colombia for more than six months at a time, correct?

ALAN: That’s right. That’s one of the biggest differences. So under the old rules, if you were to get a residency visa, you can just pop in Colombia every couple of years, and you maintain your visa. With this Migrant Visa, now you have an obligation to come to Colombia every six months. It doesn’t have to be for weeks, it can just be a day, it could be half a day. But technically speaking, you lose this visa if you leave Colombia more than six consecutive months. So again, that’s a big one for some people. I have clients who have properties in Dubai, properties in Miami, properties in other places, and they spend specific time in different places for tax reasons. So coming to Colombia, for some of these clients, is kind of annoying. So that’s a thing for some clients. But for most of my clients, it’s not a big deal, because it’s just, you know, every six months, just pop in and you’re done.

LADISLAS MAURICE: So it’s possible to have the Migrant Visa without becoming a tax resident of Colombia.

ALAN: Sure. So a lot of people confuse these two terms. So your tax situation, whether you become a tax resident when you need to file taxes has absolutely nothing to do with your visa, right? You could get a residency visa, you can get a Migrant Visa, you can get other types of visas, and so long as you’re not physically in Colombia more than 183 days within any 12-month period, you do not become a tax resident. So the visa is separate from the tax analysis that you would have to conduct to figure out if you’re either a tax resident and, if so, whether you need to file taxes.

Path to Citizenship in Colombia

LADISLAS MAURICE: And what is the path to citizenship on this Migrant Visa?

ALAN: Right. This is the second biggest difference. And this is a big deal for some clients. Under the old rules, if you got immediate residency, you saved yourself five years, right? Because the Migrant Visa gets you residency after five years. But with residency, you cut the line, you saved yourself five years. Once you have residency, you wait five years. And by the time that you can renew your visa, your residency visa, you could apply for citizenship.

LADISLAS MAURICE: Okay, so essentially before it was five years, path to citizenship, now it’s more like 10 years.

ALAN: That’s right. Now you’re adding five years to the process of applying for citizenship and getting a new passport, for sure.

LADISLAS MAURICE: Okay. I mean, most people don’t care but for those who do care that’s definitely–

ALAN: That’s exactly right.

LADISLAS MAURICE: that’s definitely an issue.

ALAN: That’s exactly right.

LADISLAS MAURICE: And the other typical ways of obtaining a visa or residency here is through the Rentista visa, and also for retired people.

ALAN: Sure.

LADISLAS MAURICE: Can you elaborate on these two programs?

The Rentista Visa in Colombia is now useless

ALAN: So with the new rules, there have been some serious changes. So the Rentista Visa, this is a visa where if you can show that you’re receiving income, from some source, above a certain amount, I always tell clients, you know, just plan for 2,800 US dollars, that number goes up and down. That visa is no longer a Migrant Visa, right? That’s gone. Well, it exists, it’s just now a visitor’s visa. So you couldn’t get a Rentista visa and eventually get residency, that’s gone. So that’s the first, I think, answer to your question.

How to Obtain the Retirement Visa in Colombia

Now, if you’re retiring, or you’re retired at this point, you could plan to apply for a retirement visa. And it’s also a Migrant Visa, it’s sort of the same category as the person who buys the property and gets a Migrant Visa, you get three years, and, in five years, you get residency. So it’s the same type of thing. There’s been several changes that have been affecting a lot of our retirement applicants. The first is they’re more and more focused on getting a security background check, okay? So if you’re applying, they’ll want to get something official from your current residency jurisdiction that says that you’re not a bad person. [laughs] Okay?

LADISLAS MAURICE: So just a criminal background check?

ALAN: Criminal background check. Secondly, they’re more and more focused on health. So you’re going to have to get both a medical health certificate as well as a mental health certificate. That’s becoming more and more of a thing, particularly for veterans, this is a thing. Basically, more and more, they want to ensure that the people that receive a visa, number one can pay their way in Colombia for their own health. If someone is super unhealthy, more and more, we are concerned that they won’t allow you to get a visa, particularly if you can’t show a good amount of income. Because eventually, and this is, in fact, a fact, some of these foreigners are now becoming wards of the state, so to speak. In other words, the Colombian government has to reach into its own pocket to take care of certain people that come to Colombia, because they’re fairly elderly, they don’t receive the income they were expecting, etc.

So on the one hand, that’s the reason they’re so much focused on the health stuff. The mental health thing is more and more of a thing. Right? And why is that, because more and more people are coming to Colombia with mental health problems, and a good portion are veterans. Right? And this is a thing. So if there’s a veteran with a history of PTSD, mental health issues, the chances that your visa could be not approved are getting higher and higher. So that’s a really big change to the retirement visa, for sure.

LADISLAS MAURICE: Interesting. And the Rentista visa essentially is useless nowadays.

ALAN: Useless. Well, it’s not useless– It’s useless to the extent that someone wants to get eventual residency. Okay?

LADISLAS MAURICE: I mean, people are just better off putting 95K and buying a property.

ALAN: That’s exactly right. So if you qualify for Rentista visa because you receive a good amount of income every month–

LADISLAS MAURICE: Yeah, just buy real estate.

ALAN: Just buy real estate [laughs].


ALAN: Because it’s just a much better visa. You could conceivably just get a visitor’s visa and just stay in Colombia as long as you want, but you will never get residency. It’s not as good of a visa as getting a Migrant Visa by far. So between those two, it’s not even close. If I have the cash, I’ll just buy property, for sure.

LADISLAS MAURICE: And for example, if I were to come here and have a child here, would this entitle me to residency or a Migrant Visa?

ALAN: So under the old rules, if I were the parent of a Colombian national, in other words, my child was born in Colombia, I could apply for residency. Not anymore. Okay? I could apply for a Migrant Visa, which will eventually get me residency. Okay? That’s another big change of the rules, for sure.

How to obtain Residency or a Migrant Visa in Colombia through Marriage / Spousal Visa

LADISLAS MAURICE: And if someone marries a Colombian?

ALAN: So this is the most interesting change to the rules. And just hear me out. You ready? So under the old rules, there were two ways– well, there were different ways to get married in Colombia, but the two primary ones were just as a regular civil marriage, you know, think– there are versions of this. There’s a ceremony, there’s an administrative law judge or a notary that certifies that you’re married, etc. And that process is a little bit annoying, because to get it done, you require a lot of documents to be issued abroad. You need to get a birth certificate, you need to get a certificate of being single, you need to get divorce decrees, it gets complicated, right. But once, you know, after six weeks, two months that you kind of do a lot of walking around getting all these documents together, then you can apply and the process is pretty self-explanatory, pretty straightforward. But it’s annoying.

The other way, previously, was what’s called a common law marriage. So basically, is just what it means, basically, I’m not married, and I love that our viewers are looking at my cat going behind me, but I’m not married but I’m living with someone. Right? And because I’m living with someone, I am declaring that I’m in a common law marriage with that person. That marital relationship, to get that certified, very simple. All you need is your passport. That’s it.

LADISLAS MAURICE: But massive risk in terms of asset protection.

ALAN: Well, under either scenario, we always recommend that people execute a prenuptial agreement, a very simple document that certifies that no marital property is being created as a result of the marriage or marital relationship, because we’re– I don’t want to get into semantics, but one thing is a marriage, which is civil marriage, another thing is a marital relationship, which is a common law marriage. Bottom line, no matter what, you always need to sign a prenup, period. Just do it. Okay? Hopefully, that answers your question.

But, real quick, regarding the change in the visa, so, under the old rules, if I were to apply for a visa, whether it’s the really annoying civil marriage thing, or the really super simple common law marriage option, I could just apply and, under either scenario, I could get a three-year visa pretty simply, like very, very simply. And within two years, remember how it takes five years to get residency, you just need two years to get residency.


ALAN: That’s under the old rules. Now, what has happened is they recognized that, wait a minute, a lot of people are entering into these common law marriages because it’s so simple. They want to get residency, it’s a really simple way to get to get to residency. So who knows how many of these relationships are actual relationships? Who knows how much visa fraud is going on out there. So they changed the rules. Now, the civil marriage visa, it takes three years, no longer two, but now they’re extended it three years to get residency. It’s still way faster than the other Migrant Visas, but it’s a benefit. But they did extend that. On the common law marriage, it no longer makes sense. It just doesn’t.

Now you’ve got to wait one year before you can apply. So you certify your relationship, you wait one year, then you apply. Secondly, you only get one year at a time. You could get eventual residency, if you wait five years, but you’re going to have to apply five times.

LADISLAS MAURICE: That’s a lot of paperwork.

ALAN: That’s a lot of paperwork. So my advice if you’re going to get married or enter into some type of relationship, just get married through the civil process. It’s a little more annoying, it takes a longer amount of time to get it done, but it’s way better than most other visa types. Common law marriage, that’s old news, that’s gone.


ALAN: If that makes sense.

Other ways to obtain a migrant visa in Colombia

LADISLAS MAURICE: Are there any other ways one can obtain a Migrant Visa or residency?

ALAN: There are others. Not everyone will fit into those categories. They’re very specific to specific industries, etc. The work visa is still a pretty good way to get eventual residency, but you’re going to have to have a local sponsor, okay? And that sponsor needs to make a good amount of money, at least $30,000 per month, to be able to kind of qualify. There are other visa types I just want to mention real quick. They just added the Nomad visa. This is a big deal for a lot of people. So if your eventual focus is in residency in Colombia, that’s not a bad option, assuming you qualify. These are very specific to entrepreneurs, people who are a little bit literally nomads, like they’re working for foreign clients virtually, they make a certain amount of money per month, etc. That’s a really big change to the rules.

And then let’s just say the following, Colombia is doing what a lot of jurisdictions are doing, they’re trying to become more professionalized. Every time they change the rules, they’re trying to catch up with Costa Rica, somewhat Mexico. Different jurisdictions in the region require X, Y, and Z, in addition to whatever to get visas. Colombia is trying to mostly catch up because they’re still getting their act together. So there’s been a lot of changes to make the process much more professional, but much more professional equals more annoying. So the process is going to be more annoying than before. But again, we’re here to help if needed.

LADISLAS MAURICE: Yeah. And it’s a beautiful country. At the end of the day, it’s worth the trouble.

ALAN: Yeah.

LADISLAS MAURICE: It’s a very beautiful and fun place, and affordable place, too, to spend time.

ALAN: Yep, absolutely.

LADISLAS MAURICE: So if you’re interested in finding out more about Alan’s services, there’s his email below. There’s also a link with his fees, etc. And if you get in touch with his team, they’ll send you a whole bunch of brochures for free with a lot of information on all the processes.

ALAN: Absolutely.

LADISLAS MAURICE: All right. Alan, always a pleasure. Thank you.

ALAN: Absolutely. It was good talking to you again and good to talk to you guys as well.

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