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Explaining Guatemala Work Visa | Volunteer and Teaching

Guatemala is a Central American country dotted with lush green rainforests, Mayan ruins and serene beaches. The country with its rich resources offers scores of employment opportunities to foreigners, especially in the fields of conservation and ecology. 

However, the country’s colonial past and high crime rate can be a deterrent.

In 2019 over 80 thousand foreigners immigrated to the country and most of them came to Guatemala to work in tourism and allied sectors.

Some others visit the country to volunteer in Guatemala’s environment conservation endeavors. 

Here’s what foreigners need to know about working in Guatemala. 

What is a Work Visa for Guatemala 

A work visa or volunteer visa is a legal authorization granted by the government of Guatemala to work in the country for a time period prescribed in the visa document. 

Foreigners from visa-required countries who wish to work in Guatemala should get a work visa to enter the country. 

They need to apply for the authorization through a Guatemala consular mission in their country of origin with the required documents.

Based on the nationality of the applicants, their duration of the stay, education qualification and work experience, the visa requirements may vary. 

Once approved, they can travel to, enter and remain in Guatemala to take up the job. 

Types of Work Visa 

Foreigners who wish to work in Guatemala need a visa. For this, they need to comply with the visa rules and requirements set out by the country's government. 

The government of Guatemala grants two types of work visas or permits. It issues work permits to foreign spouses and children of the citizens of Guatemala. 

The country also grants work permits to foreign applicants who have a job offer from a company registered in the country. 

The application process and requirements for the above-mentioned two work visa types can differ slightly. Foreign spouses and children can directly apply for a work visa/permit at the Guatemala embassy.

However, foreigners with job offers in the country cannot apply for a work permit directly at the consular mission. The company that offered them employment has to apply for a work visa on their behalf.


Working without a Work Visa 

Foreign nationals at times are allowed to work in Guatemala without a work visa. They can enter the country with a tourist visa or without a visa (foreigners from visa-exempt countries) for a short term not exceeding 90 days. 

They can engage in employment without a remuneration. They cannot get their salaries in Guatemala. 

Foreigners must consult with the Guatemala embassy in the country to know more about work visas and related visa rules as they can change often. 

Major Employment Areas


Volunteering: Incidents of violence against animals and other species in Guatemala are really high. Forests and water bodies are also facing incredible threats from human activities. Foreigners committed to making a positive impact in the areas of ecology, wildlife and forest conservation in the country can get employment as a volunteer. Volunteers also come to the country to work in shelters for women and children. 

Teaching: Foreigners arrive in the country to work as English teachers to children, women and the marginalized. They help them to communicate better and use social media to interact with a globalized audience. 

Work at a hostel: Guatemala is a backpacker’s paradise. Many backpacking globetrotters take up short-term jobs in various resorts, surf camps, and others. These works are seasonal and help them earn while backpacking through their favorite tropical destination. 

Why Do Foreigners Work in Guatemala 

Guatemala is known for its rainforests, natural beauty and rich culture and history. The Central American nation has much more to offer. Its growing economy offers international businesses and workforce lucrative opportunities to invest and work. 

It has a robust tourism and hospitality sector that required skilled employees. Foreign nationals can also open their business. If they have proper permits, they can operate their businesses without much hassle. 

How to Apply  

Foreigners from over 80 countries can visit Guatemala without a visa. They can come to the country with their passports. However, applicants from visa-required countries should get prior authorization to enter Guatemala. 

They have to apply for a Guatemala visa at their nearest Guatemala consular mission.

Based on the purpose of the trip (in this case work), duration of their stay and country of origin, they will have to apply for different types of visas. 

The first step will be to schedule an appointment with the Guatemala embassy in their country of origin. 

Make a list of all the required documents, gather them and submit it to the embassy on the day of the appointment.

They may also need to fill out an application form with their personal, passport and nationality details. 

After this, they will have to wait till the embassy verify and process their visa.

Usually, Guatemalan embassies process a visa between five to fifteen working days. However, it can go up to a few weeks. 

Documents Required  

The documents required for a Guatemala visa can be different for different visa types. The following are the most common documents required for a Guatemala visa:

  • Applicant's passport with the required validity
  • Completed application form
  • Passport size photographs
  • Travel and health insurance as tourists are required to pay for their own healthcare in Guatemala
  • Proof of accommodation including hotel bookings
  • A cover letter with details about the nature and purpose of the visit
  • If an applicant is visiting family members, an invitation letter from them
  • Police verification certificate
  • Travel itinerary including details about the flight tickets

Note that foreigners arriving in Guatemala with a work visa must get a temporary residence permit. For this, they have to visit the Guatemala immigration office with the required documents. 

This temporary residency permit is issued for 90 days. Foreigners who wish to remain in the country for more than three months must get Visa Ordinaria. 

A Visa Ordinaria will allow foreigners to stay in the country for six more months and this is extendable. 

Applicants can continue work when their application for the Visa Ordinaria is being processed, provided they have permission from the Guatemala ministry of labor. 


Guatemala is a developing economy with lucrative work and business opportunities.

The country's government has introduced several initiatives aimed at welcoming foreigners who are familiar with the topography and socio-political situation to work and start a business.

This is thought to boost the Guatemalan economy. 

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