Columbia is a constitutional republic located in northwest South America and bordered by the Pacific Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, Peru, Brazil and Venezuela. A "middle" power considered having the 3rd biggest economy among other South American countries; Columbia's government is guided by a constitution amended in 1991 and operates according to principles of "separation of powers".
The head of government and state is the president of Columbia, who is supported by the Council of Ministers and the Vice President. Similar to the structure of the U.S. government, Columbia has a bicameral Congress, Senate and Chamber of Representatives. The Supreme Court of Columbia rules over the judicial branch and consists of 23 judges presiding over the Civil, Labor and Penal chambers. Established in 2005, a civil system of legal procedures has been applied by upholding adversarial (jury or judge) procedures in all courts.
Columbia's Legal System
Working under an amended Penal Code from 1938 originally incorporating Spanish law principles, Columbia’s legal system has a striking resemblance to U.S. and Western laws that define crimes as misdemeanors or felonies. However, Columbia's maximum prison sentence is 24 years (similar to Scandinavian laws) regardless of the crime. The death penalty in Columbia was abolished over 100 years ago.
Divided into several judicial districts containing superior courts that are presided over by at least three judges, Columbia's municipalities are supervised by specialized, juvenile and circuit courts that use "Public Ministry" lawyers to represent individuals in court proceedings.
Study Law in Colombia
Earning a Law Degree in Columbia
Columbia as well as other Latin American countries has been attempting to reform their higher education process by making it easier for low income students to obtain higher education degrees. Becoming a lawyer in Columbia involves completing a Bachelor of Law (4 years). You can then complete a Master of Law (LLM). Depending on your specialization, you need or not to take the Bar exam to practice law. Internships consisting of at least one year with a law firm or individual counselor is sometimes needed before law students can take the bar examination. Many lawyers obtaining a degree in Columbia choose to practice law in Brazil, where the economically thriving cities of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro offer opportunities that Columbia does not provide. Attorneys specializing in corporate, business and contractual law will have no trouble finding employment in Brazil while criminal and family lawyers tend to be more in demand in Columbia.
Colombian student visa
There are two types of Colombian student visas:
- The Migrant (M) student visa is intended for those studying in a degree program, such as a bachelor's degree.
- The Visitor (V) student visa is intended for non-degree programs like studying Spanish.
If your study program in Colombia lasts less than 6 months, you may be able to use a tourist visa.
To be eligible for the Colombian student visa, you need to have enrolled in a qualified public or private educational institution in Colombia with a class intensity of at least 10 hours per week.
You can apply for a student visa at a Colombian consulate in your country of residence, or online.
Applying online will require scans of a list of documents in PDF, plus your photo. The documents include a university registration form, a document from the school stating that the class timetable is a minimum of 10 hours per week, proof of economic funds, health insurance, and more. Once you receive your electronic visa, you must go to a Colombian consulate to get it stamped in your passport.
After you have successfully received your Colombian student visa, you will have a maximum of 15 days to register your visa with Migración Colombia to get a Cedula de Extranjeria (Colombian ID for foreigners). If you received your visa at a consulate, you will have 15 calendar days after you arrive in Colombia to do this. The registration must be done in person.
The length of your student visa depends on the length of your planned enrollment and can be up to three years.