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COLOMBIA – New Visa Category for Mercosur Nationals and Their Dependents, and New Degree Validation Requirements

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Colombia has recategorised the Mercosur visa, which now also allows the family members of Mercosur nationals to accompany them with dependent status.

In addition, the Ministry of Education has added new requirements for degree validation applications.

TP-15 Visa

The Mercosur visa is now categorised as TP-15 and henceforth also allows family members to accompany the Mercosur national as dependents, with permission to reside or study, but not to work.

Previously, non-Mercosur family members of Mercosur visa holders could not obtain dependent status and would therefore have to apply for visas in their own right.

The TP-15 is a temporary residence visa with a validity of two years and with work and/or study permission. The visa can be obtained post-arrival or in Colombian consulates abroad. It is not tied to a particular employer, and the holder may be employed locally, on short-term transfer from an employer abroad or self-employed.

Who Benefits?

  • Nationals of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia may apply for a TP-15 visa either on arrival, or at the Colombian consulate in their home country.
  • The TP-15 is not currently available to nationals of Venezuela as, although a Mercosur associate country, it does not have any reciprocal immigration process in place for Colombian nationals.
  • Family members of any nationality, who are economically dependent on the principal applicant, can now obtain dependent status under this new category: This applies to spouses, unmarried partners, children of 24 years or under and parents.

What is Mercosur?

Mercosur is a full customs union and a trading bloc which comprises Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela. Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru are associate members, and Guyana and Suriname have signed a framework agreement with Mercosur.

Degree Validation

Effective 25 December 2014 the Ministry of Education added new requirements for all degree validation applications.

  • All bachelor’s degree validation applications must now include the bachelor’s degree diploma and transcript, duly apostilled or legalized, and the university’s curriculum for the specific program for which the application is being submitted.
  • More specific requirements were added to the procedure for validating degrees in medicine, law, accounting and education.

The qualifications of engineers and other technical professions, however, are still validated by their respective professional organisations in Colombia.

Action Items

  • Consider the TP-15 visa for Mercosur nationals (apart from Venezuelans) who wish to work in Colombia accompanied by non-Mercosur national family members.
  • Ensure that all bachelor degree validation applications at the Ministry of Education meet the new requirements, and allow additional lead time to have the degree diploma and transcript duly apostilled or legalized.

This news alert was prepared using information provided by Godoy Cordoba Abogados and Brigard & Urrutia Abogados.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this immigration alert has been abridged from laws, court decisions, and administrative rulings and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Peregrine © 2017 Peregrine Immigration Management Ltd.