Visas VS Work Permits: What are the differences?

April 26, 2023

In recent years, the way we work has undergone a massive transformation. With the effects of Covid-19 in society, remote work has become increasingly popular, allowing people to work from anywhere in the world. As a result, many companies and employees are now looking to work abroad, whether it be for short-term projects or more permanent positions.

However, working abroad comes with its own set of challenges, particularly when it comes to visas and work permits. Understanding the differences between them is crucial for anyone who is looking to work abroad, or looking to hire someone in a different country, as it can affect the type of work you are able to do, the length of your stay, and the requirements you need to meet.

International employment opportunities are becoming increasingly popular, but navigating the regulations and requirements can be overwhelming. Before accepting or offering a job in another country, it's important to understand the legal requirements for working there.

So, what exactly are the differences between visas and work permits? In this blog post, we'll take a closer look at these two concepts and explore how they impact international employees.

What’s the difference between a work permit and a visa? It’s all about the paperwork

Visas and work permits are both legal documents required for working abroad, but they serve different purposes. When it comes to working abroad, obtaining the necessary paperwork can be a complex and time-consuming process. Both require a significant amount of paperwork and documentation, and the requirements for each can vary depending on the country you are entering and the type of work you will be doing.


Visas typically grant temporary entry into a country for a specific purpose, such as tourism, business, or study. They may also allow for short-term employment or training. Work permits, on the other hand, are designed specifically for individuals who will be working in a foreign country for an extended period of time. They are typically required in addition to a visa and are necessary for legal employment in a foreign country.


A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that allows a person to enter and stay in that country for a specific period of time. There are many different types of visas, including tourist, student, and work visas. Visas are typically granted for a limited period of time and can be either single-entry or multiple-entry, which allows the holder to enter and leave the country multiple times during the visa's validity period.

The requirements for obtaining a visa vary depending on the country you are entering and the type of visa you are applying for. In general, you will need to provide documentation such as a valid passport, proof of financial support, and a travel itinerary. If you are applying for a work visa, you may also need to provide a job offer letter or other documentation related to your employment.

Work permits

A work permit is a document that allows a foreign national to work in a specific country for a specified period of time. Work permits are typically required in addition to a visa and are necessary for legal employment in a foreign country. The requirements for obtaining a work permit vary depending on the country you are entering and the type of work you will be doing. In specific areas or fields, there’s also a need for proven experience, previous job reports and even validation of diplomas.

To obtain a work permit, you will generally need to provide documentation such as a valid passport, proof of education or experience, and a job offer letter or contract. You may also need to undergo a medical exam and provide a criminal background check. In some cases, the employer may need to provide additional documentation or sponsor the work permit application.

It's important to note that the requirements and regulations surrounding visas and work permits can be complex and vary widely depending on the country and type of work you will be doing.


How Airswift can help you expand into new markets


Expanding your business overseas can be challenging. From hiring talent to maintaining compliance with different laws and more, a lot of things come into play in the face of global expansion.

During your expansion, one of the most effective ways to streamline the process is to work with a Global Employment Outsourcing partner like Airswift.  

Here are some advantages to consider:

Increase your speed to market:

For growing organisations, managing operations across multiple countries can be a daunting task that includes dealing with compliance, communicating with foreign employees, tax implications, and frequently changing immigration regulations. This can divert your attention from core business goals such as market research, talent acquisition, customer service, and maintaining profitability.

By partnering with a supplier that has a comprehensive understanding of compliance requirements, you can simplify your global expansion process and free up your resources to focus on strategic priorities. This allows you to quickly enter new markets while mitigating the complexities of managing a global workforce.

Save on additional costs:

Managing employment and compliance requirements can become increasingly complex and costly when dealing with multiple suppliers or recruiting HR specialists. Opening an entity in-country can also incur high expenses, making it challenging for growing organisations to navigate financial burdens effectively.

In such situations, leveraging another company's footprint can be a cost-effective solution to streamline operations and minimise financial strain. Outsourcing your HR and employment needs allows you to work with a single entity and remove the need for an expensive in-house team. This not only reduces costs but also provides access to specialised expertise and global resources that can help you achieve your business goals.

Increase productivity and efficiency:

Outsourcing your global employment needs to a single provider can simplify communication and streamline operations. By working with a single point of contact for all inquiries, you can increase efficiency and ensure that any issues are dealt with promptly.

This approach eliminates the need to engage with multiple stakeholders and minimises the risk of miscommunication or delays.

Maintain compliance:

Mobilising a workforce quickly and legally is critical for global companies. Staying compliant with local legislation is essential to avoid legal issues and operational errors. 

A global employment outsourcing specialist with local knowledge can provide expert guidance and support, ensuring compliance while minimising risk. By partnering with a trusted outsourcing partner, you can focus on your core business functions and position your company for success in the global marketplace.

Ensure accurate payroll management:

For clients without a permanent base in a foreign country, maintaining in-house finance and international payroll teams can be costly and challenging. Managing payroll can become even more complicated with changing compliance requirements and limited legal knowledge, making it one of the biggest challenges of global expansion.

An Employer of Record can manage local and national income tax and social security payments on behalf of your local and international employees, ensuring compliance with local tax laws. They can also deduct these amounts from your employees' salaries and pay them directly to the tax authorities, streamlining the payroll process and reducing the risk of errors.


Workforce solutions to power your business

At Airswift, we believe that people are at the heart of everything we do. Our global network of over 60 offices in 130 countries gives us a deep understanding of people's needs and helps us to provide exceptional employee care.

As specialists in managing immigration challenges, logistical hardships, and complex employment laws, we're dedicated to helping our clients navigate the complexities of global expansion. 

Want to tap into new markets but are not quite ready to establish physical entity overseas? 

Our EOR services can provide you with tailored solutions to support your global expansion plats.

Interested in our Employer of Record services?

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This post was written by: Tomás Battaglia, Content Marketing Coordinator