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Colombia/fees for teachers being hired?

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Question
I was recently hired by a company there in Columbia.  They want me to pay $285 dollars for preparing and sending work visa papers.  Is this normal for schools to charge this amount?  The list of things they prepare are below:
1. To obtain a Colombian working visa you will need:
- Notarized contract for each.
- Notarized letter of responsibility
- Notarized letter of acceptance
- Certificate of taxes
- Certificate of chamber of commerce
- Visa form
- Resume of contract
- Letter from our Legal Representative.

What do you think?

Answer
Well, you have two questions there, and I'll be happy to give you my opinion based on personal experience, experiences of others I know, and general knowledge of doing business in Colombia:

Is this normal for schools to charge this amount? - Yes and No.  Yes if the company is not so reputable, not financially stable and not going to provide you many other benefits.  No, as the companies who are stable and interested in quality foreign educators would never dream of putting the costs and processes on you.

What do you think? - I think you ought to look for another job.  It might even smell a little fishy if you also tell me that they want you to send the money to them to complete this process.  If you REALLY want to work with them, I would go visit first and also ask for verifiable references from other employees.  If it all checks out, and you take the job/pay the money, ask for a 6 month employment bonus that covers the cost of your visa process.

Hope that helps!

Colombia

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Expertise

Having lived in Colombia for almost 10 years, I currently live in the U.S. but maintain dual-residency. I am happily married to a Colombian and we have a preteen daughter who we are raising to be bilingual and bicultural. I can answer most questions about Colombia, including those about culture, travel, visas, passports, leisure and safety/security. If I don't know the answer, I'll do my best to point you in the right direction!

Experience

I have professional experience in foreign safety and security. I have personal experience living in Colombia, maintaining residence in Colombia and dealing with visa issues. I stay out of the "tourist crowd", so have developed real knowledge of Colombia and its' people.

Organizations
Multiple U.S and European security organizations.

Education/Credentials
College-educated, multiple professional certifications in my field.

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