COLOMBIA – New Immigration Compliance Rules and Penalties
Effective 16 May 2018, Resolution 1238 establishes stricter criteria for compliance with immigration obligations, and bigger penalties for non-compliance.
What has changed?
A new engagement report through the SIRE virtual system must be made after a visa category change. Elementary and high school educational institutions may allow the enrolment of minors without a permit or visa authorizing their regular stay in Colombia, and will not be subject to any administrative action, as long as these institutions make the corresponding report through the SIRE Virtual System. This does not imply that the migratory situation of the minor and their legal representatives is settled and, therefore, they must regularize their migratory status. Penalties subject to amendment due to ignorance of the law or untimely reports cannot exceed a period of 90 calendar days. ”Irregular permanence” has been removed from the list of minor infractions whose economic sanctions varies from one half to seven minimum salaries. The immediate consequence of irregular permanence is now deportation in most cases; Foreign nationals under irregular permanence may avoid deportation if they request voluntary departure from the country by signing a commitment letter and by the authorization of a safe-pass for departure valid for up to five days. Immigration infringements categorized as “moderate” will lead to an economic penalty of between eight and forty minimum salaries (previously between one and fifteen minimum salaries).
The following actions were added as moderate infractions:
1. Failure to self-identify as a Colombian national before the immigration authorities when entering or leaving the national territory;
2. Non-compliance with the obligations established in the regulation for clinics, hospitals or medical centers that provide emergencies or hospitalization services to national foreigners;
3. Non-compliance with other obligations contained in the new resolution and other regulations that may modify it or repeal it.
Nationals from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay, Paraguay and Peru, who are in irregular stay within the national territory and express their intention to obtain a residence in Colombia, may resolve their immigration status under special circumstances. Ecuadorian citizens are exempt from financial penalties for exceeding the authorized period of stay within the national territory since 4 February 2013. Under certain circumstances, the authorities may switch a deportation decision for a fine.
In the case of visa changes, employers must ensure they file a disengagement report and then an engagement report, via the SIRE virtual system; Employers should ensure that late reports, to amend the record and reduce the penalty after an infringement, are made within 90 days, to avoid more onerous sanctions; Employers are advised to implement stricter immigration controls to avoid incurring the new, higher financial penalties.