Good practices in migration matters (focus on migrants)

José Andrés Gutiérrez

José Andrés Gutiérrez

Migration is a human phenomenon that has been present throughout history, being driven by various reasons, such as the search for economic opportunities, flight from conflict or persecution, family reunification and the search for a better future. As migration has become a fundamental part of the global reality, it is essential to approach it from a “best practices” perspective to ensure protection and better preparation for relocation. We will explore some good practices in migration from a migrant-centered approach.

Visa and work permit requirements

One of the first steps in the relocation of an expatriate worker is to obtain the necessary legal permits. In Central America, visa and work permit requirements vary from country to country. In general, applicants usually need a job offer from a local company and, in some cases, demonstrate that they have specialized skills or knowledge that are not readily available in the local population. It is important to research and comply with the specific requirements of the destination country.

In general, there are some documents that the expatriate (and his/her family, if applicable) must obtain in his/her country of origin as part of the immigration requirements to be presented. In most Central American countries, it will be required, almost for any immigration category, to provide the following documents and perform the corresponding process of authentication and validation of these, either a process of legalization with a Consulate or the process of apostille (in accordance with the Hague Convention):

    1. Birth certificates (for the principal and family members if applicable).
    2. Marriage certificate (in case of bringing spouse).
    3. Police record or criminal record (usually requested for applicants over 18 years of age).

Additional documents may be requested as complementary documents:

    1. University diploma.
    2. Medical certificates or certificates of good health.

It is important to validate which is the effective date that these documents will have according to the migratory laws where the residency will be requested, and even confirm with an advisor about the legalization and apostille processes to bring the correct documents at the moment of starting the migratory process.

However, many times people forget to check which are the prerequisites to enter the country for the first time. Depending on the nationality of the passport, some people will require an entry visa, processed at the Consulate of the country of destination. It is always advisable to check the information to confirm if any visa is required to travel as a tourist, or even validate if you must have any specific vaccination and bring the certificate (for example, yellow fever vaccine or proof of vaccination against Covid-19).

Social security and health care

Social security and health care are essential for expatriate workers. In some Central American countries, it is necessary to enroll in the local social security system, while in others companies may offer private insurance to their expatriate employees. Ensuring access to quality medical care is essential to ensure the well-being of workers and their families.

Tax and fiscal obligations

Expatriate workers should understand the tax implications of their relocation. In many Central American countries there are tax agreements that avoid double taxation on income, but it is crucial to have financial and legal advice to ensure compliance with local and home country tax laws.

Education for expatriate children

If expatriate workers have school-age children, it is important to consider the educational options available in the destination country. Some Central American countries offer international schools that follow globally recognized educational programs, which can ease the children’s transition to a new environment. In many locations in the region, minors are allowed access to public and/or private education prior to obtaining residency as a dependent. This is because in many countries, education is recognized as a constitutional right and a fundamental right of minors.

Culture and adaptation

Adaptation to a new culture and environment is a critical aspect of relocation. Expatriate workers must be willing to learn about the local culture, language, and customs. Participating in community activities and establishing local relationships can help with integration and building strong personal and professional relationships.

Safety and well-being

Safety is an important concern for expatriate workers. Prior to relocation, it is essential to investigate the security situation in the host country and take the necessary precautions. In addition, knowing what resources are available in case of emergencies is crucial to ensure the well-being of expatriates and their families.

Relocating expatriate workers to Central America offers exciting opportunities for both companies and individuals. However, it is essential to address legal, social security, tax, and educational requirements to ensure a successful transition. Preparation and understanding of the local culture are key to a positive experience in a new work and social environment. Expatriate workers who consider these aspects and prepare adequately can enjoy a successful and enriching relocation to Central America.

Should you require further information or have any questions about the relocation process in any of the countries in the region, please contact