A Colombian Marriage Visa, officially known as "M-1 Visa - Cónyuge o Compañero Permanente de Nacional Colombiano" is a legal document issued by the Colombian government to foreign nationals who are married to Colombian citizens or have established recognized civil unions with Colombian nationals. This visa category serves as a gateway for individuals from other countries to join their Colombian spouses or partners in Colombia, allowing them to reside, work, study, and engage in various activities within the country's borders. In 2022, marriage in Colombia increased to the point that an average of 560 weddings were registered daily. There were 151,210 registered marriages for the year 2022.
Understanding the details of the Colombian Marriage Visa is essential for those contemplating or already engaged in a cross-border marriage or civil union with a Colombian citizen. This visa not only facilitates family reunification but also comes with specific requirements, application procedures, and legal responsibilities that applicants must adhere to during their stay in Colombia.
Colombian Marriage Laws
Getting married is a special and important step in life. In Colombia, there are some important rules you need to know about before tying the knot.
The legal age for marriage in Colombia is 18 years old, according to the Civil Code of Colombia. However, minors who are over 14 years old can marry with the consent of their parents or legal guardians.
Civil Union and Partnership
Colombia recognizes civil unions or partnerships, commonly referred to as "unión marital de hecho" in Spanish. This legal status provides certain rights and responsibilities to couples who choose to live together without formalizing their relationship through marriage. Couples must live together for a certain period of time (commonly defined as 2 years). Both parties must be of legal age and mentally capable of consenting to the union.
Partners in a civil union are entitled to certain legal benefits, such as inheritance rights, social security benefits, and access to healthcare benefits through the partner's employer. If the couple has children together, they share parental rights and responsibilities.
In order to apply for a marriage visa, you must provide a notarized statement attesting to your civil union. In most cases, the recognition of a civil union is handled by a lawyer through the court system.
Same Sex Civil Unions
Same-sex marriage is legal in Colombia, and a foreign spouse is able to apply for a marriage visa. The country legalized same-sex marriage in 2016.
Occasionally, Colombian authorities require applicants to make a first-time, in-country personal appearance if they live abroad.
Translation or Legalization of Documents
If your documents are not in Spanish, you will likely need certified translations. In addition, Colombia may require documents to be legalized or authenticated by a competent authority (such as an apostille).
Prenuptial agreements are recognized in Colombia, and couples may choose to enter into one before getting married. These agreements allow couples to establish terms and conditions regarding their financial affairs, property rights, and other relevant matters before they get married.
Civil and Religious Ceremonies
In Colombia, there are two types of marriage ceremonies: civil and religious. A civil marriage must be performed by a notary or a judge, and it is the legally recognized form of marriage. A religious marriage is optional and is usually performed in addition to a civil marriage.
In accordance with the new Resolution 5477 of 2022, a Colombian Marriage Visa requires applicants to be in Colombia for 6 months per year or more to maintain their residence status.
Colombian Marriage Visa Advantages
Colombian Marriage Visa has multiple advantages that extend far beyond the mere legal recognition of a marital union. From providing long-term residency to offering opportunities for work, investment, and access to social services, this visa is a gateway to stability and integration in Colombia. It comes with the following benefits:
- Legal Residence
It grants legal residence status in Colombia, allowing you to live in the country without any restrictions related to visa durations or renewals. Legal residence in Colombia provides a stable foundation for building a new life and pursuing various opportunities in this diverse nation.
- Permanent Residence and Citizenship
This visa allows the holder to stay in Colombia for up to 3 years. After 2 years, the foreign spouse is eligible to get a permanent residence card, which is valid for 5 years. It is possible to apply for Colombian citizenship at the end of this term.
- Work Authorization
With a Colombian Marriage Visa, you can work in Colombia without the need for an additional work permit or visa. This visa not only facilitates your integration into Colombian society but also opens doors to a wide array of professional prospects and career advancement.
- Family Reunification
If you have children or financially dependent parents, they may also be eligible for a Colombian visa based on your status, allowing your family to stay together. In the last 3 years, the number of migrants who have settled in Colombia has surpassed the historic high. South America was the largest source of migrants in Colombia, followed by Central America (including Mexico), North America, and Europe.
- Social Service Access
As a legal resident, you may be eligible for certain social services and benefits provided by the Colombian government. You can enroll in educational institutions in Colombia, including universities and language schools.
- Investment Opportunities
You can invest in Colombian businesses or real estate, potentially leading to financial benefits. By seizing these investment opportunities, you not only contribute to Colombia's economy but also position yourself for potential long-term prosperity and growth in this dynamic market. The average investment share of nominal gross domestic product (GDP) data for Colombia is 23.0%.
- Travel within the Region
With a Colombian Marriage Visa, you may have an easier time traveling to other countries in the Andean region, as Colombia is part of the Andean Community. This is a union comprising the South American countries of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.
How do Colombian Marriage visas differ from Tourist and Migrant visas?
Colombian visas, like those of many other countries, are issued for various reasons, including marriage, tourism, and other immigration purposes.
It is important to note that the Colombian Marriage Visa (M-1 Visa) is one of the types of migrant visas. A Migrant Visa in Colombia is a visa that allows foreign nationals to reside in Colombia for an extended period of time, typically for purposes such as marriage, work, family reunification, retirement, business, etc. It is designed for individuals who intend to establish a more permanent presence in the country.
Here is a table summarizing the key differences between Colombian Marriage Visa, Tourist Visa, and Migrant Visas:
Colombian Marriage Visa Legal Requirements
If you are a foreign national and you are in a civil union or are legally married to a Colombian citizen or resident, you may need to obtain a marriage visa in order to legally reside in the country. The legal requirements for a Colombian marriage visa are as follows:
- Be of legal age (typically 18 years old);
- Possess proof that you are in a civil union or are married to a Colombian citizen or resident. This includes a statement attesting to your civil union or a marriage certificate;
- Do not possess a criminal history. You may be required to provide a criminal background check from your home country;
- Have sufficient funds to support yourself in Colombia.
Note: If a marital separation occurs, the foreigner must apply for another type of visa in order to remain legally in the country.
Colombian Marriage Visa Documents
To obtain a Colombian Marriage Visa, you will need to gather and submit the following documents:
- Visa application form;
- A valid passport with at least two blank pages;
- Copy of the passport page with the last entry or exit stamp from Colombia and previous visas;
- A notarized letter from the Colombian spouse or permanent partner granting you legal authority to apply for the visa;
- Colombia ID card (Cédula de ciudadanía) of the Colombian spouse or permanent partner;
- Marriage certificate from Colombia or a notarized copy of a marriage certificate. Must be issued within 90 days of applying for a Colombia visa;
- Health insurance that covers all risks in the event of an accident, illness, pregnancy, disability, hospitalization, death, or repatriation;
- Passport-style photo, 3x4cm, with a white background;
- Additional documents proving the relationship, such as photos, documents, travel tickets, shared bills, time stamps, etc.
Please keep in mind that if the marriage occurs outside of Colombia, the marriage certificate has to be translated into Spanish, apostilled, or legalized in the country of origin.
Colombian Marriage Visa Application Process
While the procedure involves several crucial steps, understanding the nuances and requirements can significantly ease the journey. From gathering essential documents to attending consulate appointments, each phase contributes to the successful application of this visa type. The whole process is outlined below.
Step 1. Prepare Supporting Documents
You begin with collecting the required documents, including valid passport, marriage certificate, health insurance, etc. It is necessary to ensure that all documents are up-to-date and translated and legalized in a proper way.
Step 2. Complete Application Forms
Once the package of documents is ready, you will have to obtain and fill out the necessary visa application forms, which can typically be found on the website of the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Colombian consulate in your country.
Step 3. Schedule an Appointment
The next step is to contact the Colombian consulate or embassy in your home country or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Colombia to schedule an appointment for visa application submission.
Step 4. Attend the Appointment
After that, you will bring all the required documents to your appointment. At the consulate or embassy, submit your application and any supporting materials. You may also be required to pay a study fee of USD 52.
Step 5. Potential Interview
In some cases, an interview may be required to assess your eligibility for the visa. Be prepared to answer questions about your marriage and other relevant details.
Step 6. Wait for Processing
The processing time for a Colombian Marriage Visa can vary, but it typically takes from 5 to 10 business days. You should be patient and wait for the decision.
Step 7. Receive Your Visa
If your application is approved, you will receive your Colombian Marriage Visa, which will be stamped in your passport. You have to pay a visa issuance fee of USD 230.
Colombian Marriage Visa Online Application Process
The Colombian government has implemented an online application system to make the marriage visa application process easier and more accessible. This streamlined approach simplifies the application process and ensures that couples can navigate the visa requirements efficiently and conveniently.
The online application process has the following steps:
Step 1. Document Preparation and Application Submission
The first step in obtaining an M-1 visa is to complete an online visa application form after gathering supporting documents. You will need electronic, scanned copies of all required documentation.
Step 2. Pay a Study Fee
You will need to pay a government fee of USD 52 to have your application reviewed. It will be completed online.
Step 3. Receive Visa Approval and Get Your Online Visa
You will be notified of the decision via email or through the online portal within 5 -10 business days. You will pay the issuance fee of USD 230 online and receive an electronic version of your visa via email. Please note that this electronic visa is not a valid visa.
Step 4. Enter Colombia and Get Your Visa Linked to the Passport
To activate your visa and have it stamped in your passport, you have to enter Colombia, visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bogota, and show your e-visa.
5 Tips How to Get a Colombian Marriage Visa from Golden Harbors
Based on our experience, the path to securing a Colombian Marriage Visa requires careful planning, meticulous documentation, and a thorough understanding of the application process. We provide our clients with the following tips to successfully get a M-1 Visa:
- Understand Your Health Insurance Requirements
Beginning in 2022, the government will require all expats living in Colombia to obtain specific medical coverage that includes accidents, illness, hospitalization, disability, repatriation, maternity, and death. Additionally, make sure to thoroughly understand the terms and conditions of the policy to avoid any surprises in case of a medical emergency.
- Be Ready to Gather and Submit Additional Documents
To obtain a Colombian Marriage Visa, applicants will likely need to prepare and submit additional documents beyond the official checklist. These documents serve as evidence of the genuineness and stability of the relationship, as well as the couple's intentions for the future. This includes evidence of cohabitation through shared leases or property ownership, showcasing the solidity of your living arrangement. Collect a comprehensive collection of photographs, both recent and from the past, portraying your journey as a couple with family and friends, underscoring the authenticity of your relationship.
- Proof of Accommodation
In some cases, you may be required to show where you will be staying. This means proving you have a place to live during your time in Colombia. If you are staying with your Colombian spouse, they might need to write a letter inviting you, and it might need to be verified by a notary. If you are renting a place, you will need a signed rental agreement. Just make sure you have copies of all these papers.
- Presence of Colombian Children
Children who are Colombian citizens can potentially play a role in facilitating a marriage visa application. If one of the parents is a foreigner applying for the visa, the children may need to be legally included in the application process, demonstrating the parent-child relationship. Additionally, if the foreigner is already married to a Colombian citizen and has children with them, the children may form a crucial part of the basis for the visa application through family reunification. Including dependent children in the application and providing evidence of a stable family unit can strengthen the overall visa application.
- Hire a Local Attorney or Consultant
If you are finding the process particularly complex or challenging, consider hiring a local attorney or visa consultant who is well-versed in Colombian immigration laws. Golden Harbors Team can guide you through the process and ensure you have all the necessary documents. We can provide valuable insights and expertise to help streamline your immigration journey and increase your chances of a successful outcome.
Colombian Marriage Visa FAQs
What is the cost of a Colombian Marriage Visa?
The cost of a Colombian Marriage Visa is USD 282. Other significant fees, such as professional services, document preparation, and certification, must also be considered. Please contact us for a more detailed quote based on your specific circumstances.
Is it hard to get a Colombian Marriage Visa?
No, it is not hard to get a Colombian Marriage Visa if you meet the eligibility criteria. This visa is restricted to individuals with a Colombian spouse or permanent partner. The key steps involve providing necessary documents, including a valid passport, proof of legal entry, and a marriage certificate.
Can you get a Colombian Marriage Visa online?
Yes, you can get a Colombian Marriage Visa online through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs portal. However, after receiving online visa approval, you must travel to Bogotá to have the visa stamped in your passport.
What is the duration of the Colombian Marriage Visa?
The duration of the Colombian marriage visa is up to 3 years. This visa allows you to accumulate time for the Permanent Resident Visa if you stay for 2 years as a visa holder. After 5 years of being a permanent resident, you can apply for Colombian citizenship.
Can you renew the Colombian Marriage Visa?
No, you cannot renew or extend the Colombian Marriage Visa. You can reapply for a new visa, but you need to go through the entire application process again. If you decide to submit a new marriage visa application, you must do so within 30 days of the expiration of your current visa. Alternatively, it is preferable to apply for a permanent resident visa after the first 2 years of holding a marriage visa. This visa is valid for up to 5 years and can be extended.