, Guide to an effective labor inmigration in Guatemala

Guide to an effective labor inmigration in Guatemala

We begin by reporting that on September 20, 2016, the Congress of the Republic of Guatemala approved Decree 44-2016 containing the new Immigration Code. This legislation became recently effective, and repeals the previous law dating back to 1998. At present, immigration authorities and related departments, such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Bureau of Statistics, the Ministry of Labor, and others, are carrying out the implementation of this new legislation, which should be fully implemented in a 6 to 12-month period.

The new Code comprises three Books, addressng, among others, important issues as the following:

-It creates the Guatemalan Institute of Immigration as a decentralized entity that shall comprise the National Immigration System Unit. The Institute shall be responsible for recording the origin, transit and return of migrants. The current General Department of Immigration will be substituted by the new Guatemalan Institute of Immigration.
-It regulates the right to immigrate, seeking to protect the rights of those individuals that are either temporarily or permanently in the country.
-It acknowledges the human rights approach, as well as the protection of migrants and individuals; it also highlights security issues, addressing matters related to immigration control through biometric systems.
-It creates the Field Verification Unit within the Sub-Department of Immigration Affairs.
-It creates the Immigration Career, seeking the State acknowledgement of this career as a profession.
-It creates the Council for the Care and Protection of Migrants.
-It creates the National Commission for Refugees.
-It authorizes the issuance of national passports with a 5 or 10-year term of validity.
-It proposes the increase in the number of consulates in cities of the United States where there are currently none.
-It creates the status of migrant foreign worker, authorized to remain in the national territory for the purpose of working in remunerated activities. These foreign migrant workers may request a temporary resident visa for a term of 1 to 5 years maximum (the previous law prescribed a maximum term of 2 years). A Personal Identification Document will be issued to foreigners by the National Bureau of Statistics.

The full contents of this Code may be downloaded from the website: https://congreso.gob.gt.

The regulations that shall accompany this Law have not yet been created; these regulations shall be the instrumental way of creating the institutions anticipated in the new Immigration Code, which is being developed with the analyzed contribution of several sectors, both institutional and private. Our firm, Central Law, is actively participating and making general contributions as system users, in representation of migrants.

In a recent interview with Attorney Roberto Melendreras, General Coordinator of the General Sub-Department of Immigration, we were told that during the course of this year, more than ninety thousand applications have been submitted, among them, applications for temporary residency, permanent residency, business visas, and others, that are being continuously processed while the corresponding regulation is promulgated, and the Guatemalan Institute of Immigration becomes operational. Their work is currently legally grounded in the provisions set forth in National Governmental Agreement 83-2015, dated May 5, 2017, that regulates temporary procedures.

The number of migrants to all the Central American territories is constantly on the rise, due to our geographical location and the strong commercial bonds among our countries, with Guatemala as initial point.

, Guide to an effective labor inmigration in Guatemala


, Guide to an effective labor inmigration in Guatemala


Some of the types of visas to which specific procedural requirements apply, and that grant authorization to remain in the Guatemalan territory, are differentiated into categories that will serve foreigners according to the specific activity, business, service, etc. that prompted them to reside, whether permanent or temporary, in the national territory.

Extension of Tourist Visa, which extends the initial authorized term to remain in Guatemala.
Temporary Residency, in all its modes, if the foreigner is seeking to work in Guatemala.
Temporary Residency for the Clergy, for those engaged in Catholic or Evangelic activities, among others.
Permanent Residency for the Clergy; their residency is extended for a longer term.
Permanent Residency due to marriage with a Guatemalan national; the civil marriage bond must have been established for at least one year.
Permanent Residency for having a Guatemalan son/daughter; the extension of their residence becomes permanent.
Permanent Residence to investors; the financial or economic activity that the foreigner will perform gives him/her the option to seek residence for a longer term.
Permanent Residence for retirees; those receiving a monthly income from their pension, also known in some countries as pensioners.
Student Visa, for academic purposes, and for any educational level.
Business Visa; this category applies to the sectors of markets, products, and independent services.
Visitor or Tourist Visa; granted to a traveler who does not intend to remain in the country. It only applies to countries whose nationals need a visitor or tourist visa before entering Guatemala. The classification of countries whose nationals need this type of visa to enter the Guatemalan territory can be found in: www.minex.gob.gt.

Before concluding, it is advisable to point out that in order to achieve an effective labor migration, both at national and international level, there are four essential elements that must be considered:

-All documents must be in effect.
-Prior and timely gathering/drafting of the legal document required in the country where you are headed.
-Verification of costs and payment of taxes.

Migratory matters go hand in hand with labor matters. In the case of foreigners, both are processed in a regulatory manner by the State of Guatemala.

Luni Sol Araujo Monterroso

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