WORLD

Colombia grants visa extensions to Venezuelans

COLOMBIA GRANTS VISA EXTENSIONS TO VENEZUELANS

Venezuelans in Colombia will soon be able to apply for a special permit to allows them to extend their stay for 90 days, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Office of Migration said Friday.

The application can later be extended for an additional two years for the estimated 150,000 Venezuelans in Colombia on expired visas.

"This measure has been taken to try and help those Venezuelan citizens who have complied with our migratory obligations but for different reasons, their visas have expired," Christian Kruger, director of the Colombian Office of Migration, reporters Friday. "These people will be able to work, study and carry out any type of legal activity."

The move was announced two days before Venezuela votes on a controversial measure that would elect a body with authority to rewrite the country's Constitution political and economic crises have resulted in shortages of staple food and services and led to deadly violence.

The permit is the first step Venezuelans should take to remain in Colombia and it will also grant them access to social security benefits.

Certain conditions must be met by those who wish to apply online beginning Aug. 3, including that they must be in Colombia on a tourism visa and show the need to remain; crossed into Colombia legally and have supporting documentation to prove it and they must now be in Colombia with no outstanding legal charges.

"We will continue working on the construction and consolidation of an ordered, safe and regulated migration which is what the government wants. This decree is a measure of migratory flexibility looking to promote our regulations and show that foreigners can trust us," said Kruger.

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