By: Rodrigo Tannus Serrano Founding member of Tannus & Asociados firstname.lastname@example.org
Colombia, as of 2004, became an Associated State of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), worth mentioning, has not only dealt with trade matters but has also come to regulate the mobility of people in the region. A clear example of this is the Mercosur visa, which is granted by the mutual reciprocity principle, and which not only seeks to authorize the nationals of the countries that are part of the agreement to transit through these countries and, among others, to develop tourism and business activities.
Mercosur Visa in Colombia
The foreigner who wishes to enter and/or stay in the Colombian territory with the intention of establishing themselves, and is a national of one of the States member of the Agreement on Residence for nationals of the States parties to Mercosur, may apply for this type of visa which allows its holder to carry out any lawful activity within the national territory, i.e.: business, study, work, investments, etc., for up to three years.
Since Venezuela and Chile are not currently having a reciprocal relationship with Colombians, our Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided to suspend the issuance of this type of visa to nationals of those countries. However, in those cases where foreigners still have a visa of this category, its validity will be preserved and they should not, for the moment, make any changes.
Mercosur Visa in other countries
Those Colombians travelling to countries belonging to this agreement may benefit from the issuance of this type of visa, allowing them to develop different activities including those related to study and work.
Despite the above, in the actual practice Colombians have found some inconveniences when applying for this type of visa given that we may be required to present more documentation than Colombia requires to foreigners for this permit, or even not accept documents for not complying with some specific formalities. For example, in Argentina there was a requirement to present criminal records that were 10 years old from the time they were issued by the competent authority, but in Colombia there is no document with these specifications because our National Police includes only the legend “No Record”, which implies that the holder of this document has never had a record and, therefore, covers a period of more than 10 years. Recently our Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that was able to reach an agreement with the Argentinian immigration authorities and that they will accept the certificate of judicial record as it is issued nowadays by the Colombian Police.
Possible changes to the Mercosur visa in Colombia
According to the draft resolution that will modify the current requirements for applying for visas in Colombia, we find that if it is approved as it was previously shared, foreigners entering Colombia and wishing to issue this type of visa will have to meet greater requirements than they have today, even though some formalities could be obviated depending on the place of issue. The validity of the visa will be changed to 2 years.
I invite those Colombians who wish to travel to the countries of the region to have as an accessible option and great advantages for them to have this visa, while foreigners who want to enter Colombia must be attentive to meet the new requirements.