Obtaining a work visa to teach English in Colombia is a feasible option for those looking to embrace the country's rich culture and scenic beauty. The process begins with securing a teaching position in Colombia. Once you have a job offer, your Colombian employer will typically assist in the work visa application process. The key requirements for a Colombian work visa include a valid passport, a formal job offer or contract from a Colombian educational institution, and possibly other documents like a criminal background check and health certificate, depending on specific circumstances.
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The requirements for obtaining an M-5 work visa to teach English in Colombia are comprehensive and vary based on nationality. It is advisable to first consult with a Colombian Embassy or Consulate for specific guidelines. Generally, the prerequisites include:
- Job Offer: Obtain a formal job offer from an authorized educational institution in Colombia. This offer is a fundamental requirement for starting the visa application.
- Educational Qualifications: A bachelor's degree, preferably in English, education, or linguistics, is typically required. Many institutions also ask for a TESOL certification.
- Criminal Background Check: A clean criminal record is crucial. You will need to provide a police clearance certificate or background check from your home country.
- Health Insurance: Colombian regulations mandate that foreign workers maintain valid health insurance coverage. Ensure your policy meets the country's standards.
- Financial Proof: Demonstrate financial stability, either through bank statements or an employment letter confirming your salary.
Once you have gathered all the necessary documents, you can begin the visa application process either in your home country or from within Colombia. Here is a general outline of the steps involved:
- a) Contact the Colombian Consulate: Get in touch with the Colombian Consulate in your home country or the country where you currently reside. Inquire about the specific requirements and procedures for obtaining a work visa.
- b) Prepare the Documentation: Gather all the required documents, including your job offer letter, educational certificates, criminal background check, health insurance policy, and financial proof.
- c) Submit the Application: Complete the visa application form and submit it, along with the supporting documents, to the Colombian Consulate. Be prepared to pay the visa application fee (currently around $280).
- d) Attend the Interview: Depending on the consulate's requirements, you may be called for an interview. This is an opportunity for consular officers to verify the authenticity of your application and ask additional questions.
- e) Visa Approval and Collection: If your application is approved, you will be notified by the consulate. You can then collect your work visa and make preparations to travel to Colombia, if you have yet to arrive.
Though the visa will be valid for up to 3 years, you will only be able to work for the position or profession with which the visa was originally granted. If you leave the country for more than six months the visa will expire.
Once you have obtained your visa you must register it with Migracion Colombia within 15 days in order to acquire your Cedula (national identity card). Registration offices are situated in all major cities across the country. It is important to complete this process within the designated time frame to avoid any potential fines. Possessing a Cedula grants you various privileges such as the ability to open a bank account, subscribe to a cell phone plan, etc.
To obtain a Cedula, you are required to undergo a blood test, fill out the online application, and arrange an appointment at a Migracion Colombia office. For your appointment, make sure to bring along your passport with the visa, the blood test results, a photocopy of the passport's data page, and the processing fee (around $60).