While Guatemala is renowned for its national beauty and rich history, this Central American country has much more to offer — including lucrative opportunities for expatriates and international businesses. If your company is planning to expand to Guatemala, one of your top priorities is most likely building a team of skilled employees to make the move with you. But before they can begin living and working in Guatemala, your company will need to ensure that they have the proper permits to do so.
Types of Work Visas in Guatemala
Foreign nationals who plan to travel to Guatemala to work or study will need to obtain a visa, much like they would for any other country. Available visas and permits include:
- Business visas
- Tourist visas
- Student visas
- Work permits
The Guatemalan government issues two different types of work permits to foreign nationals who would like to work in the country. These permits are for:
- Expatriates who have spouses or children with Guatemalan citizenship
- Foreign nationals who have received a job offer from a company in Guatemala
The requirements for these two categories of work permits differ slightly, as do the application processes. For example, workers in the first category may apply on their own behalf, whereas foreign workers without family in Guatemala should expect the company to file the work permit application for them.
Requirements to Obtain Guatemala Work Visas
Applicants who have spouses or children in Guatemala will need to produce the following documents when applying for a Guatemalan work permit:
- A written job offer
- Police records from their country of residence
- A copy of the birth certificate or marriage certificate proving their ties to a Guatemalan citizen
- A written request addressed to the Guatemalan Ministry of Labor
- A copy of the applicant’s temporary visa or residency visa, or proof of a pending visa application
Applicants who do not fall under this category may obtain a work permit application form from the Ministry of Labor, but it’s the responsibility of their employer to submit the application. The prospective employee should provide personal documents to the employer for submission along with the application.
To obtain a temporary residence permit, applicants will need to provide:
- A recent passport photo
- A valid passport along with an additional copy
- Certification of the validity of the passport from the applicant’s legal country of residence
- A criminal background check
- Identifying documents and financial statements from the applicant’s guarantor in Guatemala, such as the employing organization
Before foreign nationals can work in Guatemala, they need a temporary residence permit as well as a work permit. It’s necessary to begin the process with the application for a temporary residence permit, as proof of the application is a minimum requirement to obtain a work permit. The applicant (or the company, depending on the status of the prospective employee) should provide the necessary documents to the General Directorate of Migration and wait for approval.
The application procedure for a Guatemalan work permit is similar. The application form and accompanying documents should be submitted to the Guatemalan Ministry of Labor by the prospective employee or the employer depending on the category of work permit required. In February 2022, the Ministry of Labor launched an electronic platform for work permit applications.
After the Ministry of Labor has been presented with the necessary documents, it generally takes 10 to 15 days for the issuance of the work permit. Once the foreign national has a work permit as well as a temporary residence visa, they can travel to Guatemala.
Other Important Considerations
Employees should be aware that the issuance of a visa is not a guarantee of their entry into Guatemala. The final decision is left to the discretion of the immigration officials at the Guatemalan border or point of entry.
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THIS CONTENT IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL OR TAX ADVICE. You should always consult with and rely on your own legal and/or tax advisor(s). G-P does not provide legal or tax advice. The information is general and not tailored to a specific company or workforce and does not reflect G-P’s product delivery in any given jurisdiction. G-P makes no representations or warranties concerning the accuracy, completeness, or timeliness of this information and shall have no liability arising out of or in connection with it, including any loss caused by use of, or reliance on, the information.