For multinational corporations eyeing expansion into the vibrant landscape of Central America, the transfer of employees and expatriates to Guatemala is an integral step. Yet, this process isn’t without its complexities, as it navigates through a maze of immigration regulations and requisites. In this comprehensive blog post, we aim to provide clarity and insight by addressing the most pressing questions frequently posed by these companies when contemplating employee transfers to Guatemala.

1. Is it necessary for the entity to have a legal presence in Guatemala to transfer expatriate employees?

  •  A legal presence in Guatemala is necessary and can be achieved through a company’s own branch or subsidiary or through outsourcing.

2. What are the percentages that the entity must meet for hiring expatriate employees in Guatemala?

  • Companies may hire a maximum of 10% of foreigners and pay up to a maximum of 15% of total salaries, giving priority to Guatemalans, but there are exceptions where the above does not apply.

3. For which positions can a foreigner’s work permit be requested?

  • For positions of trust such as Managers, Directors, General Managers, Administrators and Superintendents, that are exempt from the percentages indicated in the previous question.
  • For jobs in which no Guatemalan personnel are trained to fill those positions.

4. At what moment can I include a foreign worker on the payroll?

  • As soon as the work permit is obtained.

5. How long does it take to include the expatriate worker on the payroll?

  • It takes 1 to 2 months after submitting the residency before the Guatemalan Migration Institute.

6. Can I initiate the residency work permit process prior to the expatriate’s entry to the country?

  • No, the foreigner must be in Guatemala to begin the process.

7. How long can a foreigner stay in Guatemala with a traveler or tourist visa?

  • Without a pending residency application, up to a maximum of 90 days with a tourist or traveler visa, extendable for the same period.

8. What categories of permanent residency can a foreigner choose?

  • Qualification within one of the following categories is required:
  • Temporary residency for more than 5 years.
  • Guatemalan relatives in the degrees established by law.
  • Rentier or pensioner.
  • A foreign person who has been married for at least one year to a Guatemalan or who has declared a common-law marriage with a Guatemalan.
  • Anyone born in another Central American country who has been a temporary resident for more than one year.

9. What is the difference between the two visas for a pending residency application (simple or multiple visa)?

  • The simple visa allows one exit and one entry to Guatemala while the residency permit is in process.
  • The multiple visa allows unlimited exit and entry to Guatemala for 90 days.

10. When transferring an expatriate to Guatemala for less than one year, is it necessary to apply for temporary residency?

  • Yes, it is necessary to obtain residency so that his/her immigration status is valid.

Luis F. Ruiz

Fernando Méndez