Immigration LawInmigration in Pandemic Times

By: Rodrigo Tannus Serrano

Under the State of Emergency decreed by the Colombian governments and many countries in the world, a significant number of provisions have been implemented in different areas, where migration aspects have not been the exception. Restrictions on the entry of nationals and foreigners, limitations on the issuance of visas and permits; closed air, land and river ports, mandatory isolation, among others, have been the order of the day. Although many of these policies are being contemplated on a temporary basis, they have a high probability of remaining in time or even indefinitely, generating a high impact and disruption in immigration and human mobility policies worldwide.

In our country, extraordinary measures have been temporarily established on immigration procedures and services, the suspension of terms in processes and procedures by Migración Colombia, as well as the return protocol of Colombian citizens and resident foreigners.

Until 30 May of this year, the sea, land and river borders will remain closed. The same happens with international air traffic, for a period of 30 days, since last March 23, a measure that will most likely be extended in the next few days.

Consequently, Colombians and foreign residents may not enter before this period, except in specific situations of approved and coordinated repatriation with the consulates abroad, humanitarian reasons, cases of force majeure with prior authorization from the Colombian authorities and those exempted. However, it is important to bear in mind that non-resident foreigners, i.e. those who do not have migrant or resident visas, may only enter after the 30th of May. In addition, the mandatory isolation measure currently in force until 26 April and the mandatory 14-day quarantine in force for all travellers coming from abroad must be respected.

On the other hand, those foreigners who are outside Colombia should bear in mind that the consulates are not processing visas, except in exceptional cases. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through its office in Bogotá, will be the only office responsible for issuing visas to those foreigners who are in Colombia, even though it is not possible to stamp them in passports. The invitation is to consider the current situation at the time of the study of visas facing some requirements.

Migration Colombia will suspend the terms, as well as requests for procedures and services that begin through face-to-face channels such as: foreigner’s identity cards, visa records, extensions of stay, migratory movements, safe-passes and administrative processes, until May 30.

As for the repatriation protocol, this applies to those who wish to return to the country by air, land or river. The first step to be taken in order to assess the possibility of establishing the humanitarian channel is to contact the Colombian consulate with jurisdiction in the city where you are, in order to provide personal information. In addition, they must assume the cost of transport from abroad, as well as the cost of accommodation and living expenses to their final destination, comply with self-isolation and fill out the respective forms and minutes.

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