Applying for a work permit in another country is always a complex process. The first thing to note about Peru is that the nation does not have a work permit as such; it has a work visa, known as the visa de trabajo.Your ability to work legally in Peru starts when you get your immigration card. This is good news; Peru is a fast-growing economy and one of the most robust in South America, with low unemployment and opportunities for overseas workers in tourism, natural resources and international banking in particular, as well as that perennial standby of teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL). Import and export are major contributors to the economy, and the country was much less disrupted by the 2011 recession than elsewhere.
Lima is the nation’s financial capital, but other cities such as Arequipa and Trujillo offer a vibrant working and cultural environment, and Cusco is a potentially good choice for working in tourism. If you work in TEFL, you could also end up in a smaller, more rural location.
How Do I Get A Visa?
You have three possible options.
You could choose to arrive with a tourist visa, which will be valid for either 90 or 183 days, and then look for work; see below for more on how to go about doing this. Once you have found employment and complied with the requirements for working for a Peruvian or an international company, you can then apply for a working visa. This visa is likely to be for the duration of your contract and can be obtained from the Dirección General de Migraciones y Naturalización del Perú (DIGEMIN). This is the Peruvian general directorate of immigration and naturalisation, and is located at Avenida España 734, Breña, Lima (330-4111, https://www.migraciones.gob.pe/). You can extend a 90-day visa three times, each time for 30 days, giving you a total of six months in Peru.
Alternatively, you could enter Peru with a business visa. This differs from a work visa and the same principle applies as for a tourist visa above, except that this document is only valid for 90 days. You’ll be able to work but will still need to apply for a work visa at DIGEMIN.
The final option, which you can find on the DIGEMIN website, is a ‘permit to work’ for students or volunteers, which you can apply for via an online form. The University of Piura will sign people up for a year-long visa.
Do note that visa policies may depend on where you are from. If you plan on settling in Peru permanently, you’ll need a residential visa in due course.
Obtaining a work visa isn’t always the smoothest process, but do note that working without one is illegal, as in most countries.
Check out whether you’ll have to leave the country in order to apply for a change in visa status.
How Do I Find Work?
If you’re not already on the ground (or even if you are), your best bet is one of the online portals for employment:
Those in the know suggest phoning as well as sending in your CV by email, as emails are often ignored. Therefore, give your prospective employer a ring to let them know that you’ve sent your CV in.
What Are Working Conditions Like In Peru?
– You won’t be able to work for more than three years if you’re a migrant, although your company can renew your contract
– The total wages of international workers may not exceed 30 percent of the total wages paid out by the employer
– There is a cap on the number of migrants who can be employed by a Peruvian company; they cannot constitute more than 20 percent of the workforce
– You will have to pay tax once 183 days have expired. However, as a non-resident, you’ll only have to pay tax on your Peruvian income. Peruvian residents have to pay tax on their global income
– Canada and some South American neighbours have a double tax agreement in place with Peru to make overseas business and trade easier. However, you’ll need to check all this out with the taxation authority in your home nation first
– Your taxes will go into the health and pension systems
– If you’ve been employed in Peru for 20 years, you’ll get a pension plan once you reach the age of 60
– There is social security in the country, but it’s less well developed than in some Western countries. You will receive benefits if you are unemployed or unwell as a resident of Peru
– Peru is a developing country, so tailor your financial expectations accordingly; you might not be able to earn a fortune, but the cost of living is relatively cheap. There will be an obvious difference in salary between, say, waiting staff and an experienced mining engineer
– Working hours are around 48 per week, but this may be less in international companies
– If you’re thinking of setting up your own company, there are two options: investing $25,000 or hiring a local person to set up the company for you, in which case capital investment is smaller at around $2,000
Obviously, it’s vital to check out the terms of employment before you begin, and it will help if you speak Spanish, since most business negotiations are conducted in the national language. Explore accommodation options too – these can vary widely, from a $2K per month luxury apartment in Lima to a $100 per month basic flat. Some jobs come with benefits, such as a housing stipend or some transport costs, so make sure you discuss these with any prospective employers before signing a contract.
If you leave your job before the due date, it’s a good idea to get recommendation letters and a constancia de trabajo (work record), which need to be given to you by the head of the company. These should state whether you were full or part-time, the dates you started and finished working as well as your title and duties.
Have you worked in Peru? Share your experiences in the comments below, or answer the questions here to be featured in an interview!