Work Permits vs. Business Visas: What’s the difference?

HIGHLIGHTS
  • Work permits are for jobs and income-generating roles.
  • Business visas are for short-term company travel.
  • Eligibility requirements vary by host country.
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Work permits, business visas — what’s the difference?

Whether you’re an aspiring international fashion designer, attending a business summit overseas or a company sending an employee overseas for a work project, knowing which visa is needed can be hard to figure out. Two common visas for doing business outside of the country are the business visa and the work permit, but determining which one is needed is the tricky part.

What is the Difference between a Work Permit and a Business Visa?

The fundamental difference between a business visa and a work permit is:

  • A business visa is for tasks that can’t be considered work or gainful employment.
  • A work permit is meant for services that would be considered a job or labor.

Although this is a very general way to differentiate a business visa and work permit, it is important to keep in mind that each country will have very unique rules as to what is considered labor or worth compensation.

What you need to know about Business Visas

A global business visa is meant for business relations and meetings that do not involve anything that could be considered labor or gainful employment.

Common reasons for a business visa:

  • attend meetings
  • unpaid training
  • business events
  • investigate business opportunities and ventures

Some countries allow installation of goods (hardware, machinery) after a sale to be allowed under a global business visa. The important part to know is that this visa involves business logistics and relations, but not actual labor or services.

What you need to know about Work Permits

A global work permit is for people who wish to earn an income or compensation overseas.

Common reason for global work permit

  • Working in a retail
  • Contracted labor such as assembling an exhibit
  • Obtaining full-time or part-time employment
  • Working under contract

The point is that global work permits are meant for employment, contracted labor, or any activity that the country would interpret worthy of income or compensation. Each country around the world has different requirements and follows different application processes to apply for a work permit.

The general difference between the two should be clear: One involves business inquiry or relations, the other allows expats to work or earn an income. Before applying for a business visa or a work permit, be sure to determine what the country of interest interprets as “work.”

Luckily, Envoy’s team of global mobility specialist can easily review any situation and can help determine which visa or work permit will meet your needs. If you or an employee will be traveling internationally in the future, contact us today.