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Labor Mobility

If your firm has operations abroad, you may long for the work ethic and politesse of Guatemalans. Perhaps, it is a surprise that in many countries it is possible to hire Guatemalans directly from Guatemala via a work visa process. Work visa programs allow companies outside of Guatemala to recruit Guatemalans to legally work temporarily elsewhere in a variety of industries.


In most cases a company must ask its host country government for authorization to hire a foreign worker. This authorization may include a process to prove that there are not sufficient workers who can or who want to do the job for which the company is seeking foreign labor. Once the government grants the authorization, the company usually sends it to the foreign worker they have recruited and this worker will present themselves, with the authorization, at the Consulate or Embassy of the nation in which they intend to work. The Consulate or Embassy can then issue the work visa. The worker then travels to the foreign country with their documentation and visa so border authorities can grant permission for a time limited stay. Classically, Guatemalans have used work visa programs to perform labor in agriculture and building trades but could also work in other sectors.


Some countries cap the number of work visas available. The work authorization is temporary, but many countries offer the possibility for a foreign worker to reapply for their position after departing their territory for a period of time or to renew their work authorization while in country. Temporary foreign worker programs exist in Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Germany, Great Britain, Mexico, Spain, and the United States to name just a few.

Participating countries and industries involved consider foreign work programs a win-win, as they assure a supply of qualified, legal workers for various sectors, remittances for the source labor country, and help to limit irregular migration. For participating workers, a chance to work abroad offers the opportunity to gain new skills in new settings at a competitive wage.


Guatemalans who participate in work visa programs must receive no less than the minimum wage in their host country and neither the recruiting firm nor the employer can obligate them to pay commissions for a job placement. For some laborers, usually foreign agricultural workers, the host government obligates, or the work location necessitates, that the employer provide housing and other benefits.

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