Colombia eases entry requirements for some Asian travelers

10 Mar 15

COLOMBIA

IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? Nationals of China, India, Thailand and Vietnam who hold Schengen or U.S. visas are eligible under a new program to enter Colombia without a Colombian visa.

What does the change mean? Though the program was announced in February, some immigration officers may not be aware of it yet. Travelers from the countries above should be prepared to show additional documentation and may want to consider normal visa processes until the program is more fully implemented.

  • Implementation timeframe: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Under the program, those who qualify can receive a Permiso de Ingreso y Permanencia (PIP) upon entering Colombia.
  • Who is affected: Nationals of China, India, Thailand and Vietnam holding a Schengen or U.S. visa or permanent residence permit.
  • Business impact: Some business travelers could have an easier time entering Colombia.
  • Impact on processing times: No significant impact is expected, but demand for Colombian visas could be eased since more nationals from the countries listed above are eligible to come to the country without obtaining a Colombian visa.

Background: Colombian authorities announced the change in February to coincide with the 35th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Colombia and China.

The program aims to make it easier for nationals from the countries listed above to visit Colombia, including for business purposes. However, those who do not have a Schengen or U.S. visa or permanent residence permit still have to go through regular visa processes. The program also does not cover holders of C-1 or transit visas.

Some immigration officers may not be aware of the program, and travelers should be prepared to show additional documentation, including letters from the companies they intend to visit and information about their travel to and from Colombia. They must also carry their passports with their Schengen or U.S. visa or permanent residence permit.

The PIP-6, issued to business visitors, is a single-entry permit that allows visits of up to 90 days and extensions for an additional 90 days. The PIP-6 does not allow work activities.

BAL Analysis: While the change is a boon for Chinese, Indian, Thai and Vietnamese travelers to Colombia who hold Schengen or U.S. visas, it is not a full-scale visa-free travel arrangement. What’s more, because the program is new, some immigration officials may not be aware of it. Travelers who qualify for the program should be prepared to show additional documentation and may want to consider using the normal visa process to enter Colombia.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Colombia. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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