Finding a job and working legally in Peru
Important information when looking for a job in Peru
Peru is a beautiful country, the economy is booming, employment opportunities are everywhere and living expenses are low, easy-peasy!? This is in short and probably a little bit exaggerated what quite a few articles about emigrating to Peru, finding a job and working legally in the country want to make us believe.
Sorry to burst the bubble, the reality unfortunately is anything like this.
It surely is true that Peru is an amazing country with a booming economy that offers a lot of opportunities. But until now Peru unfortunately isn’t an ideal immigration country for people looking for a proper job and wanting to earn a decent living or even having to support a family with their wage. Nevertheless over the past few years there have been improvements and next to Latin Americans an increasing number of North Americans, Europeans and Asians come to Peru to work.
Where are the jobs in Peru
Living expenses in the Peruvian provinces, smaller cities and villages are surely much less than in North America or Europe; but jobs for foreigners are scarce (except in the mining industry), wages extremely low and the infrastructure (schools, hospitals, shopping, cultural happenings) leaves much to be desired.
Everyone wanting or having to earn a living in Peru as an employee usually has to head to a touristic hotspot such as Cusco, a bigger city like Arequipa, Trujillo, Chiclayo or the Peruvian capital Lima, with its 10 million+ inhabitants the financial, economic and cultural center of Peru. While the infrastructure is way better and here and there might compare well with North America or Europe, and wages might be higher, they are still way lower than in North America or Europe while the living costs, at least if you prefer to live in a decent area and maintain a similar living standard as at home, can easily reach a 1st world country’s level.
Some legal background when looking for a job in Peru
And even though you might be (highly) qualified in your field and hopefully speak Spanish (otherwise you will have an even harder time), it won’t be easy to find employment. Be aware that, even though many foreigners do so, you are not allowed to work and receive a remuneration for any kind of professional activity while being in the country on a tourist visa. To legally work in Peru you need a work visa. You only can get a work visa, if a Peruvian company employs you and sponsors the visa.
Regulations for employing foreigners are quite strict in Peru. According to the Peruvian Law for hiring foreigners a Peruvian company for example is only allowed to employ 20% foreigners and combined these can only receive 30% of the wages paid by the company. Additionally, the company has to “expose” their business incl. exact income, expenditures, employees and payroll completely to the Peruvian taxation office and immigration authority. So, finding a company, offering you a contract with a decent wage and supporting you with all the red tape, can be challenging. Many companies think twice before hiring a foreigner, especially as they have to be doing their business 100% legal and can find lots of well qualified Peruvians expecting less for most jobs without the hassle.
Be aware that working in Peru often means more hours for less money and poorer benefits than you are used to back home.
For some time now it is however possible to set up a Peruvian company as a foreigner (be aware that you need a Peruvian (silent) partner that owns a small percentage), then employ yourself as the general manager, get your contract approved and apply for a work visa. Nevertheless, it is highly recommended to discuss the details with a trusted Peruvian notary or lawyer.
Additionally, since March 2017 Peru offers the so-called "independent work visa". This visa gives independent professionals (for example freelancers) the right to work legally in Peru without being employed by a Peruvian company. As the requirements depend as well on the profession and the process to apply for this type of visa isn't really clear we highly recommend to go this road with a trusted Peruvian immigration lawyer.
How to find work in Peru
The best way to find work in Peru is to start early when still being in your home country. This not only makes your move simpler and gives you some security, but ensures an income from day 1 and of course a work visa in Peru.
Finding work in Peru from abroad
Working for a foreign company that sends you to Peru or especially employs you for working in Peru surely is the optimum. Usually you not only receive a payment as in your home country (which quite often is way higher than a Peruvian company would pay for the same work) and proper health insurance, but the company might as well bear the costs for your move, housing, sometimes car and school fees.
As above mentioned opportunities are extremely rare and quite often reserved for the upper management levels or government employees, a good way to get a feeling for the Peruvian job market and look for work, is to search professional networks such as LinkedIn, internationally operating or local online job portals such as Indeed Peru, CompuTrabajo Peru, Laborum Peru, Aptitus, Bolsa Laboral Lima, and social media pages or websites of Peruvian expat groups.
A lot of international companies have a job opportunities section on their websites; so having a look at the ones with branches in Peru might bring you a step further as well. Getting in contact with the Chamber of Commerce of your home country in Peru and asking for a list of associated companies might also help.
The hospitality industry is booming in Peru; so if you are qualified, finding a job in one of the numerous hotels in Peru is doable even when not yet being in the country.
Finding work when already in Peru
Most people planning to move to and to work in Peru, visit the country on a tourist visa and then start looking for a job locally. As already indicated above it’s not an easy undertaking to just turn up here in Peru and find a job within the few months you have on your tourist visa. Therefore, it is highly recommended to have enough funds to support yourself for an extended period of time while job hunting. Just in case you can’t secure a job, have a return ticket on hand or put a certain amount of money aside to always being able to buy a flight ticket back home.
A good way to start your job search in Peru is by connecting. Lots of jobs aren’t advertised online or in newspapers but through word to mouth. So, knowing people that know the right people and letting people know about yourself is still very important in the country.
All in all the expat community in Peru, easily found with a simple online search or on social media, is very welcoming and helpful; and you might even find some job offers on their (web) pages.
Lots of jobs are still not advertised online, but in the local newspaper. Each Sunday El Comercio, Peru’s oldest and largest daily, publishes a big job market in the supplement Aptitus. As already mentioned above Aptitus is as well available online, but not all job offers in the print version are available online.
Nevertheless, online job portals such as Indeed Peru, CompuTrabajo Peru, Laborum Peru, Aptitus, Bolsa Laboral Lima might be helpful to locate job openings as might be getting in contact with companies operating in your field. Rather pay them a visit as e-mails are often ignored.
What kind of jobs are in demand in Peru?
That’s a difficult question to answer. Peru’s economy is growing and broadening. So there is a demand in a variety of areas.
But be aware that most administrative positions and lower level jobs are usually filled with locals that are willing to work for a fraction of the payment you consider fair. Nevertheless, if you have special qualifications, such as speaking a foreign language fluently, which is necessary or useful for the company, you can get lucky.
Even though every now and then in demand, professionals in the medical area and legal field or as well in some cases experts in the wide field of architecture for example have to have their qualifications validated and certifications and degrees recognized. A cost-intensive and time-consuming and not always successful endeavor.
In the growing mining, hydro energy and oil-producing and processing fields locals are usually trained to do the lower level jobs while foreign experts are posted from abroad and fill the key positions. If you apply locally wages are ridiculously low compared to other countries, the work usually is in very remote locations and working as well as living conditions might not be what you are used to.
With a booming hospitality and tourism sector, professionals in these areas but as well newcomers with other skill sets have good chances of finding work in Peru.
High in demand are all sorts of qualified technical professionals, especially in the engineering and IT area. Expect wages and benefits to be less than you are used to.
Over the past years quite a few call centers (sales, customer service and support) popped up in Lima and a few other Peruvian cities. They are always looking for foreigners with foreign language skills, but not always sponsor a work visa and rather letting you work illegally and without a contract.
Always sought after are foreign language teachers, especially English tutors. In every city in Peru there are language institutes hiring native English speakers with or without qualifications year-round. But be aware that these usually don’t help with your work visa. You most certainly work illegally without a contract, legal backing, health insurance and other benefits.
Most (international) schools and universities however are eager to find qualified English teachers. They most often pay their foreign employees a decent wage and sponsor a work visa. Be prepared to prove your qualifications with a TEFL or TESOL certificate for example or other related diploma or degree. The school year in Peru starts at the beginning of March; so the best time to apply for a job is between December and February, while you might get lucky applying midterm (in June or July) as well.
Even though the availability, reliability and speed of the internet isn’t always ideal, working remotely of course can earn you money, but you won’t be able to get a work visa.
Applying for a job in Peru
Usually the job offer states how and where you can apply. So as everywhere in the world just go for it, if you like the job and meet the requirements.
To prove your professional competence and occupational qualifications it is advisable to bring work related certificates, decrees, titles, etc. with you that needs an Apostille (or have to be legalized by a Peruvian consulate and later by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Lima) and then have to be translated by an official translator.
If you are still abroad, you might be at a disadvantage, but modern technology reached Peru as well, so applying via e-mail is very common and Skype interviews aren’t unheard off.
Quite a few companies ask for a police clearance certificate, national and / or international. The Peruvian one can be obtained at any police station.
It is not uncommon that companies in Peru have an “application day”. So, if you are interested in a job this company offers, you and everyone else wanting this job, are asked to come with your application documents to an office or even a conference room in a hotel at a set date to apply. Be prepared to find long lines with lots of people wanting to apply as well in front of you.
Even though most job offers indicate to send your application and CV by e-mail, be prepared to never hear from them again. You probably just assume they are not interested in you, but that might not be the only reason possible. E-mails are many times ignored, strangely quite often don’t reach the recipient and rarely answered. So, if you want to make sure that the one in charge got your application, call and confirm that he or she received your e-mail.
If you are finally invited for an interview with the person in charge, make sure to address your immigration status and need for a work visa at one point.
You got lucky and are offered a work contract? Congratulations!
Before (!) signing your work contract (or any other legally binding document) in Peru when still on a tourist visa in the country, you have to get a permission to sign contracts (permiso para firmar contratos); otherwise the contract is null and void and won’t be accepted at the Labor Ministry for approval. Since January 2018 you can apply for the permit online. Our article "Permit to sign contracts" explains how it works and what you need for it.
If you however sign a work contract with a Peruvian company while still being abroad, make sure to have it legalized by the Peruvian consulate before setting out for Peru. If the contract isn’t in Spanish, it has to be translated by an official translator in Peru.
You have managed the first step on your way to live and work legally in Peru. Now, the red tape follows; the goal: receiving a work visa.
Note: According to Peruvian law you are not allowed to actually start working until your work visa is approved.