What is the change? Colombia has introduced stricter immigration penalties and compliance rules, following issuance of a resolution last month.

What does the change mean? Among the new rules, changes to a foreign national’s visa status must be reported in the online SIRE platform, penalties for immigration violations have increased significantly and companies will not be allowed to make amendments to mandatory reporting of foreign workers in the SIRE system beyond 90 days.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate. The resolution took effect May 16.
  • Visas/permits affected: All visas.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals and companies employing foreign employees in Colombia.
  • Business impact: Companies are subject to stricter compliance rules and higher penalties for immigration violations.
  • Next steps: Employers are encouraged to review their policies and procedures to make sure that they are in compliance with all immigration regulations.  

Background: The resolution also calls for stricter treatment of foreign nationals who are in irregular status. In most cases, they will be immediately subject to deportation, but can avoid it by agreeing to voluntary departure; nationals of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay who are in irregular status may regularize their status under special circumstances; and Ecuadorian nationals who have exceeded their authorized stay in Colombia since Feb. 4, 2013 are exempt from monetary penalties.

Other provisions increase monetary penalties for “moderate” immigration infractions and expandthe list of infractions that are considered “moderate.”

BAL Analysis: Companies should be aware that it is now mandatory to file a disengagement report and thereafter an engagement report in the SIRE system when an employee’s visa category changes. Employers should also make sure that they perform all mandatory reporting in SIRE as soon as possible and no later than 90 days after the visa change; if 90 days pass, the company is subject to monetary penalties.

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.

Copyright © 2018 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. All rights reserved. Reprinting or digital redistribution to the public is permitted only with the express written permission of Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. For inquiries please contact