Colombia: Degree Validation Process Streamlined

Last Updated: 7 November 2019
Article by Fragomen  

At a Glance

  • The Colombian Ministry of Education has published a resolution that reduces processing times and simplifies requirements for foreign nationals applying for validation of their foreign university degrees.
  • Foreign nationals with validated university degrees or degrees from accredited institutions will also benefit from new exemptions from administrative requirements.
  • Affected applicants should benefit from the elimination of administrative hurdles involved in obtaining documents from universities or institutions, and significantly reduced document gathering and government processing timeframes.

The situation

The Colombian Ministry of Education has published a resolution that reduces processing times and simplifies requirements for foreign nationals applying for validation of their foreign university degrees, which many foreign nationals must submit in addition to a visa application.

A closer look

Generally, affected applicants should benefit from the elimination of the administrative hurdles of obtaining documents from universities or institutions, and significantly reduced document gathering timeframes. Additional impacts specific to each application are below:

Type of application and new rule Impact

Applications with degrees from accredited institutions.

  • Foreign nationals with degrees from an institution that has received accreditation or recognition from a public or private entity no longer need to submit a syllabus or academic certificates containing course description, methodology, duration, academic credits per class, etc., in support of their application.
  • They can submit only their apostilled or legalized Bachelor's degree diploma and transcripts instead.
  • It is still uncertain which criteria or documentation the Ministry will use to determine whether an institution is accredited.
  • Reduced processing time. The Ministry of Education will adjudicate accredited institution applications within 60 days from the date of filing.
  • Fewer renewals. Affected foreign nationals will obtain their permanent degree validation license much sooner, instead of having to renew their temporary professional permit multiple times. This will reduce administrative hurdles and costs to employers and foreign nationals.

Applications with degrees with administrative precedent.

  • Foreign nationals with degrees from the same institution and with the same academic program as a degree that has been validated by the Ministry of Education on three previous occasions no longer need to submit a syllabus or academic certificates containing course description, methodology, duration, academic credits per class, etc., in support of their application.
  • They can submit only their apostilled or legalized Bachelor's degree diploma and transcripts instead.
  • Reduced processing time. The Ministry of Education will adjudicate administrative precedent applications within 120 days, instead of the previous two to three years.
  • Fewer renewals. Affected foreign nationals will obtain their permanent degree validation license much sooner, instead of having to renew their temporary professional permit multiple times. This will reduce administrative hurdles and costs to employers and foreign nationals.

All visa applications requiring degree validation.

  • Foreign nationals applying for degree validation no longer need to submit a graduate profile with their visa application. The graduate profile is written information from the university about the skills a student is expected to gain from their education.
  • Previously, if a graduate profile was not included in the syllabus or in any existing university certificate, the foreign national had to request the university to issue such document, which is not always feasible.

Applicants should benefit from the elimination of the administrative hurdles of obtaining documents from universities or institutions, and significantly reduced document gathering timeframes.

Unaffected applications

Applications filed before October 16, 2019 are unaffected by these changes. Foreign nationals may choose to continue their process or cancel their current application and re-submit it to take advantage of the changes and new processing times, if applicable.

Background

  • Degree validation requirement. In addition to a work visa, foreign nationals working in a regulated profession in Colombia for over two years must obtain a degree validation authorization from the Ministry of Education.
  • Administrative hurdles. Colombia has historically attracted foreign skilled talent as it does not impose quotas on the number of foreign nationals a company may hire, among other incentives. In addition, there has been an influx of Venezuelan and other foreign nationals in the last few years which has created a high volume of degree validation applications for the Ministry of Education. The measures are intended to alleviate administrative hurdles for the Ministry of Education and reduce response times, while continuing to attract foreign talent that conforms to the country's educational standards.

Looking ahead

The implementation of the new immigration law (which is likely to occur by 2020) will create new guidelines for visa categories which require foreign nationals to have more advanced qualifications. As a result, Colombia may see an influx of highly-skilled immigrants requiring degree validation, which may result in the Ministry of Education adopting even more relaxed measures.

Fragomen will report on related developments.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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