By: Julián Rios

The migratory regime in Colombia poses challenges for human resources departments, which have traditionally focused on aspects other than understanding the legal requirements for hiring a candidate who aligns with the company’s values.

There has been a widespread misconception that the document allowing foreigners to work in Colombia is the foreigner’s ID card (cédula de extranjería). Many individuals responsible for personnel recruitment have adopted this misconception. Therefore, without aiming to cover all scenarios, we share some considerations that could facilitate the onboarding process, with certain aspects to be taken into account during the selection process:

1. Current status: Firstly, it must be determined whether the candidate is in regular migratory status or not. This is relevant to understanding the time it might take to hire the foreigner.

a. If the candidate entered as a tourist, their passport stamp should be checked, indicating the allowed duration of stay from their entry. This period is extendable, as long as it does not exceed 180 days per calendar year. In cases of extension, the support is the digital document issued by Migration Colombia.

b. In the case of claims about having a visa or Temporary Protection Permit (PPT), the document should be requested to verify its validity. It’s important to note that, besides the visa, the PPT is the only document enabling Venezuelans to work in Colombia. Certification of the document being in process is not sufficient for these purposes.

c. It is possible that the candidate, without having any of the previously mentioned documents or permits, may have a salvoconducto (SC-2), with which it would be in a regular situation, however, it does not entitle the applicant to work, but it does entitle to apply for a visa.

It should be noted that if the candidate is in an irregular condition, they must undergo an administrative sanctioning procedure before obtaining a “salvoconducto” (SC-2) to regularize their migratory status. This process can be time-consuming due to the scarcity of appointments for this type of procedure at Migration Colombia offices. Once the worker has the “salvoconducto” (SC-2), they can apply for a visa that allows them to work.

2. Type of residence document: If the candidate has a document allowing them to stay in Colombia, the following should be verified:

a. In the case of a PPT, if it is valid, it grants an open work permit, posing no issues for hiring.

b. For visas, it should be checked if the visa includes a work permit and whether it is open or restricted. Some visas may only allow work with an entity that sponsored their application. Visas with an open work permit usually state “Authorizes to exercise any legal activity.”

It is relevant to request the visa that led to the issuance of a foreigner’s ID card (cédula de extranjería), as any visa with a validity exceeding three (3) months could lead to the issuance of a foreigner’s ID card, but this does not guarantee the visa includes a work permit.

3. Nationality: This factor may facilitate organizations without the required economic solvency to hire a foreigner, as agreements such as Mercosur or CAN may allow a request with fewer requirements. Similarly, multinational organizations could check for a Free Trade Agreement that facilitates the movement of business people within the same company.

4. Company’s economic capacity: While not a characteristic of candidates, it is essential for a society intending to hire a foreigner to consider. If the candidate cannot apply for a visa without a sponsor, the company must demonstrate average earnings of one hundred minimum wages in the last six or four months, depending on whether it is a migrant or visitor visa, respectively.

In summary, although it is not intended that human resources teams become experts in the immigration regime, it is necessary that they have the basic knowledge to avoid sanctions to the corporations by Migration Colombia.