Colombia has been characterized as a country of emigration, with negative net rates of migration since the 1980s and with a foreign-born population that is less than 0.5 percent of the total population. However, since 2010, the country has been attracting a growing flow of immigrants, with entries almost doubling between 2010 and 2013, reaching a total of 29,840 immigrants in the year 2013, which remains a small number for a country of 48 million people.
The outflow of Colombian emigrants to OECD member states and Latin America has remained relatively constant, with a slight increase of 3% between 2009 and 2012. The United States has the greatest percentage of Colombian migrants, with 36% of the total. Since 2009, Argentina and Chile have also become destination countries for Colombians, more than doubling and tripling, respectively, their numbers of Colombian migrants.
The labor force participation rate of Colombians in Europe and the United States fell by 1.6 percentage points between 2010-2011 and 2012-2013. During this same period, the employment rate of Colombian emigrants increased slightly (0.4%) while the unemployment rate declined by 2 percentage points to reach 17.9%.
In 2013, Colombia received 229 asylum seekers, an increase of 131% relative to asylum requests in 2012. The most important origin countries were Cuba, Somalia and Bangladesh. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reports that since 2009 registered refugees totalled 57 recognized refugees.
Remittances increased to more than 4 billion dollars, rising some 2.3% from 2012 to 2013, making Colombia the largest recipient of remittances in South America, followed by Peru with 2.7 billion dollars.
In 2011, through Law Decree 4062 of 2011, the Special Administrative Unit of Immigration in Colombia, referred to as ‘Migración Colombia, was created as the country’s single immigration authority. The Unit, part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is responsible for all immigration procedures in Colombia, such as migration control, monitoring and enforcement.
In the same year, “Migración Colombia” formulated its Institutional Strategic Plan “Fronteras en Línea 2012-2014.” The Plan establishes the guidelines for the consolidation of the new migration institutional structure with the objective of implementing a new model of migration management.
Regarding the regulations on migration, Decree 834, of April 2013, established new provisions for immigration, including specific aspects of visas, control, surveillance and monitoring, entry permits and extensions of stay, registration and documentation, and departure. The Decree adapts the Colombian visa system to international codification standards. Types of visas were reduced from seven to four and categories increased from 18 to 20. Some relevant changes to the entry and stay system are:
The temporary worker visa (new Visa Temporary TP-4), can now be issued without prejudice of the legal requirement to practice a profession. This will be required only after the visa is issued.
Permanent residence visas, which were formerly issued for an indefinite period, are now valid for 5 years. The decree also extends the benefit of the visa to the spouse/partner, parents and children under 25 years of age who are financially dependent of the visa holder.
Colombia signed the “Agreement on Residence for Nationals of States Party to Mercosur, Bolivia and Chile” in July 2012 and began to apply it December 1st of the same year. As such, Mercosur citizens may settle in Colombia with minimal requirements by acquiring a two-year resident visa; at the end of this period, they may seek permanent residence. On the basis of reciprocity, Colombia, in 2013, extended the Agreement’s immigration benefits to nationals of Uruguay and Paraguay, and, in 2014, to Venezuela, thus bringing the number of beneficiary countries to nine, along with Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru.
In keeping with a Colombian policy of rapprochement to the Eurasia region, nationals of Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia and Romania are now exempt from a visa requirement for visits of up to 180 days.
Law of Return No. 1565, issued in 2012, and regulated by Decree 1000 of 2013 and decree 2064 of 2013, specifies modalities and incentives for the return of Colombians living abroad. It provides customs, tax and financial incentives for the return of Colombians who have lived abroad for more than three years and meet the additional requirements prescribed under the law.
In December of 2012, Decree 2840 established changes to the procedures for recognizing the condition of refugees, with new guidelines for the Advisory Committee for Determining the Condition of Refugee and other provisions.
The Decree regulates the permit length in an effort to adapt to the shifting realities of refugee claims, minimizes as much as possible abuses during the procedures and protects victims of human trafficking. It also offers an alternative supplementary protection to victims who have not been granted refugee status, provided that a particular vulnerability situation that demands special attention is demonstrated. The assessment of each case is the responsibility of the Advisory Committee for Determining Refugee Status.
Recent trends in migrant’s flows and stocks and in labor market outcomes of emigrants
|Migration inflows (foreign nationals)||Persons||Per 1000 inhabitants||Percent change|
|Permanent and temporary||15055||20866||23679||29840||0.61753171291274||98.206575888409|
|Total migration inflows (foreign nationals) by type||Persons||% distribution|
|Migration outflows (nationals)||Persons||% of total||% change|
|From unstandardised destination country data||2009||2010||2011||2012||2012||2012/2009|
|Asylum seekers and refugees||Per million inhabitants||Number of persons|
|Inflows of asylum seekers||3.4664657121326||1.7842428922135||2.0752790930703||4.7391006118303||3.0162720773117||229|
|Refugees resident in the country||4.5645387016902||4.6517761118425||4.5907689028526||4.6356267993449||4.6106776289325||224|
|Components of population growth||Per 1000 inhabitants|
|Foreign-born population||Percentage of the total population||Persons||% change|
|Remittances||Millions of dollars||% of GDP||% change|
|Macroeconomic indicators||Annual growth in %||Average annual growth||Level|
|GDP/per capita ((PPP ) in constant 2011 international dollars)||2.5235047319271||5.1310455305749||2.648439486858||3.2955725555663||3.3996405762316||12025|
|Labour market outcomes of emigrants in Europe and the United States||Percentages|