VisaReturn protocol for Colombians and foreign residents

By: Rodrigo Tannus Serrano

The Colombian Government has implemented a significant number of provisions in different areas in recent months under the State of Economic, Social and Ecological Emergency. Restrictions on the entry of nationals and foreigners, as well as the closure of air, land, and river ports, among others, have been some of the measures established. As a result of these measures, several discussions have arisen concerning the alleged violation of fundamental rights such as life, health and freedom of movement, which in some cases have been protected under the protection provided by judges of the Republic, who have ordered the necessary steps under the repatriation protocol to coordinate, order and authorize humanitarian flights with a view to allowing the return of Colombian and foreign residents who are trapped abroad by the Covid-19.

Repatriation Protocol

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Migración Colombia developed an application that not only seeks to have the location and number of Colombians abroad, but also to serve as a channel between the National Government and those Colombians who are currently outside of Colombia, either because they were trapped within this emergency or because they left the country years ago seeking opportunities. With these data, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has implemented assistance strategies for Colombians and foreigners residing in our country who are abroad, allowing, among other things, the scheduling of more than 110 humanitarian flights and the mobilization of more than 15,500 people to the country.

Additionally, through Resolutions 1032 and 1232 of 2020, the repatriation protocol was established and applies to those who wish to return to the country by air, land, or water. The first step to be taken in order to assess the possibility of setting up a humanitarian channel is to contact the Colombian consulate with jurisdiction in the city where they are, to provide personal information in order to assess the possibility of setting up a humanitarian channel. Some of the information required is listed below: Names, identity card and passport numbers; in the case of permanent resident foreigners, nationality and identity card number; migration status and length of time abroad; medical conditions and any special conditions such as disability, being a minor, etc.

These travellers must assume the transportation costs from abroad, as well as the accommodation and living expenses to their final destination, comply with the self-isolation and fill out the respective forms and minutes.

Return Law

I consider it important to mention another of the programs for the return of Colombians residing abroad which, although it applies to other circumstances and was not created by virtue of the pandemic, establishes customs, tax and financial incentives for those Colombians who voluntarily wish to return to the country. To be eligible for these benefits, the applicant must be of legal age, prove that they have been abroad for at least three years, have no convictions in force abroad or in Colombia, or have been convicted of crimes against the public administration, and have not resided in Colombia for more than 12 months after returning.

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