Whether you’re an individual looking to move into a new country for work, or you want to expand your business and employ top talent from your new Latin American base, there are lots of things that you need to think about. As well as language barriers and finding quality accommodation, you must also think about securing a working visa in Latin America. Doing so isn't always easy.
Below I offer my advice for companies that want to secure employment visas to take their business to the next level.
Visa applications differ from country to country
Before we delve any deeper, it’s important that you understand how visa applications work from country to country. Countries such as Argentina, for example, which has recently seen changes in immigration law, now demands proof of onward travel and accommodation for those who want to apply for a visa, and citizens of some nations, such as Canada and Australia, must pay a reciprocity fee if they are planning to come to the country for business or for tourism. The country offers a number of visa options, including a transitionary visa, a temporary visa and a permanent visa, and people of all backgrounds can apply - including foreign professionals, pensioners, investors, scientists, athletes, artists and those from religious backgrounds.
To become a permanent resident in Argentina, you must be related to an Argentine citizen, such as through marriage or by having a family member in the country, and you must have lived within the country through temporary residence for between two or three years before you can apply. You must also have no criminal records, and hold your birth and marriage certificates.
Peru, as a comparison, has its own laws and regulations and offers four common types of visa, such as a working visa, investment visa, family visa and retirement visa. In order to be granted for a working visa, you must have an employment contract with a company in Peru that has been approved by the Ministry of Labor and authenticated by a notary public. If you are planning on entering the country to start a new business, on the other hand, you’ll need to apply for an investment visa, and need to invest more than $150,000 US dollars (500,000 Sol), present a business plan before you enter the country, and employ five local staff within your first year of business. With an Investor visa, you’re not allowed to work, so you’ll also need to apply for a working visa if you’re planning on overseeing the company and managing your new staff.
Mexico, on the other hand, also offers four types of visa, including temporary residency, investors, working and permanent residency. To be approved for an investors visa, you’ll need to invest at least $1,767,200 MXN in a Mexican company, or launch your own Mexican company. Processing time is shorter than in other countries, taking between five and six weeks, and it is valid for up to four years before it must be renewed and verified in order for it to be approved.
I have only just scratched the surface of the types of visas and differences between countries, and the truth is that Latin American countries all have their own policies. Because of this, you should ensure you read through all of the necessary information on the government website before you apply for a visa within the country, and consider working with a company that offers assistance applying for working and employment visas if you’re worried about your application.
What to think about before applying
There are lots of things that you should think about before applying for an international visa. Of course, one of the first is deciding whether or not the country is right for you. Before you apply for a working visa, you should consider visiting on a holiday to get a feel for the culture and the sense of community - as the last thing you would want to do is spend thousands of dollars applying for a visa and launching a new business in a Latin American country, only to find that you do not want to be there, or that you’re not going to be able to make enough money.
Whilst you’re in the country, you should also look to make professional - and indeed, personal - relationships that will be able to help you on your journey. If you can enter a new country with a visa and already have business relationships in place, and a friend or two to talk to when you’re relaxing, then you’ll be much more successful with your business ventures than other people.
Applying for your employees
If you’re expanding your business into new countries and want to bring with you some of your employees to temporarily assist in your company development and launch, then you should think about applying for their visas as soon as possible. Remember that some countries in Latin America require workers to have proof of employment before their application can be accepted, so you should apply for your own investor visa and form a legal entity within the country before you ask for your employees to apply for their own international visas to guarantee acceptance.
If you’re concerned about whether or not your employees are likely to be accepted for a visa in a new country, or you do not have the funds to apply for an investor visa to launch a business in the country, then you could instead consider the benefits of using a professional employment organisation - companies who can employ local talent on your behalf. Not only does this method save you time and money, but it allows you to access local support and find talent that will be able to assist in the growth of your business, and free up your time to work on other tasks.
There’s no getting away from the fact that applying for a visa in a Latin American country can be hard work, but with the right support and advice, you’ll be able to move to a new country for a new role or to start a new business. Whatever you decide to do, I wish you the best of luck!
Seasoned Business and Investment Professional in Latin America. Craig Dempsey is the CEO and Co-Founder of a leading multi-national group, that specializes in the provision market entry and back office services in the Latin America. Craig holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Masters in Project Management. Craig is also a veteran, having served as an Australian military officer on numerous overseas missions and also a former mining executive with experience in various overseas countries.