EU nationals can enter and reside in Colombia for up to 90 days without needing a Visa or permit, but will need a valid passport and proof of a return flight. Working Visas are difficult and complicated to attain. Visas must be got from a country outside of Colombia, Ecuador is the closest, and you will need various papers from your employer in Colombia. As is the case with most South American countries, it is generally very difficult to find work in Colombia because Colombian nationals are eager for employment and so even the lowest paying positions are often taken up. Most opportunities for working experiences will be found in either teaching English or volunteering.
To gain a working Visa to teach you must show proof of having a teaching qualification, however many unqualified people still find work, particularly in the capital, Bogota. If you do have qualifications, look for jobs in schools and language institutions, and even if you do not it is still possible that you may be hired by some schools. Some of the best opportunities are found by asking around in person, and even finding some freelance tuition work, start looking in the main cities of Medellin and Bogota. If teaching English as a foreign language is something you want to pursue seriously and in other countries where jobs can be particularly competitive to find, it is worth enrolling on a course to gain the TEFL qualification, check their website for more details.
There are a great many opportunities to volunteer throughout Colombia, from conservational projects to work with underprivileged and impoverished families. Many of the volunteer agencies mentioned below organise similar schemes and projects across a wide range of countries, including other South American nations, but they often require your own funding, which can amount to more than �3000 so it is wise to plan well in advance for such programmes.
Baptist Missionary Society
Volunteers take part in ‘Youth Action Teams’ who spend a year working in teaching and social care, as well as more hands-on jobs such as building work and construction projects. Positions are available for Christians aged between 18 and 25 who are willing to fund their own travel, food, training etc. which can total up to �3000.
USPG Experience Exchange Programme
This is another missionary agency whose church-based volunteer programmes last between six and twelve months. Work includes practical jobs such as building community centres. Food and accommodation is sometimes provided by the organisation for its volunteers, but individuals must fund general expenses such as travel and insurance.
AFS International Youth Development
Depending on your age, AFS offers places on either its Schools Programme (for 15 to 18 year olds) for ten months, or the International Volunteer Programme (for 18 to 29 year olds) for six months. In both cases volunteers are accommodated by host families. The Schools Programme is more focused on students experiencing life in Colombia, whereas the International Volunteer Programme involves participation in a social project. Again, volunteers are required to raise their own money to fund their trip and costs can total �3000 or more.
Volunteers work in groups with children and communities in a number of countries throughout the world. Projects last for up to three weeks, in the summer months. All volunteers are supplied with food and accommodation and are required to pay a fee of �75 to register with Concordia.
TEFL are one of the leading organisations for teaching English abroad
USPG is involved with missionary work in Columbia.
AFS UK is a non-profit making organisation that aims to further inter-cultural learning
Concordia is one of the voluntary organisations operating in Columbia.