Foreigners who have a correctly signed and valid work contract with a duration of at least 12 months with a Peruvian company that was approved by the Peruvian Labor Ministry can apply for a resident work visa at the immigration authority "Migraciones" in Peru.
While the actual application for the work visa is basically a simple and straightforward process, at least if you are familiar with Peruvian bureaucracy, it is only the last step. The tricky part, especially when you aren’t working for a big international company, is the necessary groundwork you have to do before being able to apply for the work visa.
Our article "Finding a job and working legally in Peru" already describes in detail where and how to find work in Peru, what jobs are in demand, the legal background for employing foreigners and the application for jobs in Peru.
Signing a work contract with a Peruvian company
After finding a Peruvian company that is willing to employ you and sponsor your work visa, the most important step of the process is the work contract.
If you 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 once you are in the country.
If you are already in Peru on a tourist visa, you need a so called "permiso para firmar contratos" (a special permission to sign contracts) before you can legally sign the contract. This can be obtained easily within an hour or so at any immigration office in Peru. You just need your passport including copies for the page with your personal data and entry stamp, the filled in Form F-004 and a payment receipt of any Banco de la Nacion branch (pay with code 1814 "permiso para firmar contratos) for the application fee (S/. 16 as of 2017).
As soon you have the permission, you can legally sign the work contract.
Approval of work contact by the Peruvian Labor Ministry
Once the contract is correctly signed, it has to be approved by the Peruvian Labor Ministry. Exempted are contracts with citizens of Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador and Spain that only have to be sent to the ministry, but not approved by them.
Foreigners married to a Peruvian that already have a Peruvian family visa and foreigners with an "inmigrante" status are so called “exonerated workers” as well. Their work contract doesn’t require the approval of the Ministry of Labor and some employment regulations, such as a Peruvian company is only allowed to have 20% of foreigners on their payroll and pay all foreign workers in the company not more than 30% of the total wages, don’t apply.
The approval of the contract by the Labor Ministry sometimes can be tricky. Usually the process should only take a week, but much longer waiting times have been reported.
According to Peruvian law the company (mostly the company’s lawyer) has to support the future foreign employee with all the red tape. As the Peruvian employer, who sponsors your visa, has to prove the professional competence and occupational qualification of his future foreign employee it is advisable to bring work related certificates, decrees, titles, etc. with you that need an Apostille (or have to be legalized in your home country by the Peruvian consulate and later by the Peruvian Foreign Ministry) and then translated by an official translator.
Detailed information and necessary form letters can be found on the webpage of the Peruvian Labor Ministry Mintra.
Only when the work contract is approved by the Labor Ministry you can apply for a work visa at the Peruvian immigration office "Migraciones".
Requirements for a Peruvian work visa
The requirements for applying for a Peruvian work visa include, but may not be restricted to:
- Application form F-004
- Receipt from the Banco de la Nacion (code 1814) for paid administrative procedure (according to the Migraciones website S/.117.60 in 2017)
- Receipt from the Banco de la Nacion for paid application fee for changing to a resident visa (according to the Migraciones website US$ 200 in 2017)
- Passport and copy of the pages with the personal information and entry stamp
- Legally signed and by Labor Ministry approved work contract with a duration of at least 12 months
- SUNAT (Peruvian tax authority) registration including RUC (Peruvian tax number) showing the employing company is active
- Company registration of the employing company showing the legal representative
- Appointment confirmation
Applying for a work visa in Peru
Once the groundwork is done and all documents are on hand, the actual application for a work visa (or correctly the change of your immigration status from for example tourist to worker) is simple and straight forward, but sometimes frustrating and time consuming. Usually the process takes about 30 days, but waiting times of 2 months are nothing uncommon. Be aware that at the time of your visa application your tourist visa still has to be valid.
Even though after Peruvian law the company employing you has to support you and usually the company’s lawyers will help with or handle all the red tape involved, it might be good to know the application process.
First the visa application fees have to be paid at a branch of the Peruvian "Banco de la Nacion" before making the appointment to apply for the visa. Give the teller the code 1814 (F-004 cambio de calidad migratoria) and keep the receipt safe.
Making an appointment to apply for a work visa
To apply for a work visa (or correctly to change your immigration status from for example tourist to worker) first an appointment on the website of the Peruvian immigration office "Migraciones" has to be made.
Click under "de calidad migratoria" on "residente" and choose on the left menu under "trabajadores" the point "trabajador". You now get a list with documents you need for your application. By clicking on the little squares confirm that you have the necessary documents you have to bring with you to the appointment. Confirm as well the form F-004; on the next page you will have to fill it out and print it. Leave the point clearance from Interpol (ficha de canje internacional-Interpol) blank for the moment. You will have to get it once you had your appointment. Click on "siguiente".
On the next page fill in the form. Make sure to enter your personal data exactly as in your passport. Be prepared that this might cause some inconsistencies, especially for married women that choose to take her husband's surname.
While in North America or Europe you have your father's or mother’s surname or both or even your husband's / wife's surname, in Peru the surname of a person is composed of the "apellido paterno" (surname of the father) and the "apellido materno" (surname of the mother); married women in Peru only add a "de and husband’s surname" to their double surname.
Even though not really correct, don’t enter your father’s and mother’s surname in the spaces on the form for the "apellido paterno" and "apellido materno", but your surname(s) as in your passport! If you have one surname write it in the "apellido paterno" space, if you have two surnames, write the first one under "apellido paterno" and the second under "apellido materno", even though these are not your father’s and mother’s names.
Before you, already numerous people (me included) argued with the Peruvian immigration authority about these discrepancies without success. If the name(s) on the form don’t match the name(s) in your passport the only result is either a rejection of your visa application or the recommendation to change the surname in your passport to meet the Peruvian naming regulations. You don’t want to go there.
After having filled in the online form, click on the point 2. If you choose not to apply for your visa in person, but use a legal representative such as your company’s lawyer enter here the personal data; otherwise leave the spaces blank. Then click on "siguiente".
You now see the form F-004 filled in with your personal data. Check if your information is correct, names as in your passport and no spelling mistakes. If so, print the form and keep it safe. Only then click on "siguiente".
On the next page you have to enter the information of the "Banco de la Nacion" payment receipt as indicated.
Then choose a date for your appointment on the next page and print the confirmation. Usually you can get an appointment within 2 or 3 weeks, but waiting times may vary depending on the current workload.
Applying for your work visa at "Migraciones"
Arrive at "Migraciones" on agreed date 30 minutes early with all required documents (make copies of everything for yourself). As the procedures differ from immigration office to immigration office here just a general explication. If at one point you don’t know where to go ask the security personnel at the entrance where you usually have to show your passport and your confirmation of the appointment, or inside the building. In general they are friendly and helpful. Expect to be seated somewhere and to have to wait until you are allowed to proceed to the counters. Once there you usually just have to present all required documents.
If everything is in order, your application is accepted and you are handed a piece of paper with your case number. Please read the instructions and fine print on the Migraciones paper with your case number carefully. Usually you have to return and hand in your Interpol clearance within only a few days. As the clearance can take anything between 2 to 5 days, go to Interpol the next day.
Once your visa application was accepted by "Migraciones", you have to pay the Interpol office in Lima a visit to get the so called "Ficha de Canje Internacional". The office is located on Av. Manuel Olguin block 6 (Comisaria de Monterrico) in Surco.
The requirements include:
- Application form (available at Interpol)
- Copy of the passport page with the personal information and photo
- Copy of the passport page with the Peruvian entry stamp
- Passport photos (taken in the office)
- Receipt for the Interpol clearance from any Banco de la Nacion branch (give the teller the code 8141; the fee increased recently but should still be less than S/. 85)
- Copy of the visa application form / your Migraciones case number
- Envelope, office size
- If you are married to a Peruvian: a recent copy of your marriage certificate and copy of the spouse’s DNI
- If you are a US American national: an international money order, a so called “Giro sobre el exterior” for the amount of US$ 18.00, made out to "The Treasury of the USA" (you get it at Scotiabank or BCP)
- If you are a Canadian national: an international money order, a so called "Giro sobre el exterior" for the amount of CAD$ 26,75, made out to "The Receiver General for Canada"
- If you are an Australian national: an international money order, a so called "Giro sobre el exterior" for the amount of AU$ 103.00, made out to "The Australian Federal Police"
Interpol asks to please arrange the documents in this order.
As regulations may change quickly without prior notice and depend on your nationality/ procedures in your home country, we highly recommend to confirm above mentioned requirements and amounts with the Interpol office in Lima shortly before your visit.
A visit to Interpol in Lima to get the "Ficha de Canje Internacional" is contrary to popular opinion easy though time-consuming. Once there, get a ticket. You are asked to fill out a simple form (know your height and weight, your parents name and occupation, last address abroad, name and address of the company you are starting to work at...) and hand in your documents. Then passport photos are taken (additional fee of about S/. 10), you are fingerprinted and your teeth are examined.
The Interpol check usually takes 2 to 5 days; if you traveled to Lima from the provinces just for the "ficha", tell them and they usually have the results ready the next day. Be aware that the clearance has to be picked up and then brought to Migraciones. Make a copy of it for yourself. No appointment is needed at Migraciones. Just get a ticket for the so called "mesa de partes" (in Lima it is no longer accessible through the Migraciones building on Av. España 734, but the entrance is now located on Av. España 610, Breña), wait your turn, hand in the document and you receive another piece of paper as receipt.
Depending on your nationality an additional check from the federal police body of your home country (for example the FBI) is required. For this above mentioned international money order is needed. According to the Interpol office in Lima this check has nothing to do with the approval of your visa; if something serious comes up your record is tagged and you might be detained as soon as you leave the country.
What are the next steps to receive my work visa?
After you handed in your Interpol clearance, you just have to wait and regularly check the status of your application on the website of "Migraciones". Usually the processing time is around 3 to 4 weeks, but the process can take as well up to 60 days depending on the workload. As soon as all steps are completed, your work visa is approved and you have to return to the immigration office.
Before your visit, fill out form F-007A (for your inscription in the foreign database) and pay a fee of about S/. 50 at the Banco de la Nacion under code # 1873. Then pay Migraciones another visit and take the filled out form, receipt, your passport, copy of the application form, your case number, etc. with you. After checking all your personal data and documents once again, you are registered in the Peruvian foreigner database, fingerprinted and photographed. And within the next half hour or so you are handed your so called "Carné de Extranjeria", the Peruvian foreigner ID card.
Congratulations! You made it!
Only now you are allowed to start working. The work visa is bound to the Peruvian company that sponsored the visa. It is valid for one year and then can be extended. Don’t forget to pay your foreigner tax between January and March of each year (US$ 20 when you pay on time).