Visa vs Work Permit: Difference and Comparison

To travel abroad, a person may require a visa or a work permit. However, it may be hard to comprehend the difference between the two.

In a real sense, a work permit is a type of visa that employs an individual in the host country. Additionally, there are other distinctions between a visa and a work permit.

Key Takeaways

  1. A visa grants entry and stay in a foreign country for a specified period, while a work permit authorizes an individual to work there.
  2. Visas can serve various purposes, such as tourism, study, or business, while work permits specifically cater to employment-related activities.
  3. To legally work in a foreign country, an individual needs a visa (to enter and stay) and a work permit (to engage in employment).

Visa vs Work Permit

Visa is used to describe a document that allows a foreigner to enter a country for a specific period of time and purpose. A work permit is a type of legal document that allows a foreigner to work in a specific country for a defined period of time and for a specified employer or job.

Visa vs Work Permit
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A visa is a signed and stamped document enabling an individual to enter another country legally. The immigration authorities of a country grant visas.

There are varying types of visas and visa categories for different countries. Usually, a visa is either non-immigrant or immigrant. Additionally, a visa may require renewal after a particular period. 

A work permit refers to documentation by an individual’s employer that permits him to work in another country for a specified period.

A work visa may be temporary or permanent. Moreover, an individual incurs zero costs when applying for a work visa.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonVisa Work Permit
DefinitionA visa refers to a document passed by immigration authorities that allows an individual to enter a foreign country. A work permit is an official document enabling the holder to conduct business in a foreign country.
Issuing AuthorityThe immigration authorities authorize the person with a visa.A work permit is issued by the company that hires the individual. 
Costs IncurredThe individual applying incurs the cost of the visa for it.The cost of a work permit is issued by the national or international company employing the person.
Documentation Required  The documentation required to apply for a visa includes an invitation letter, a passport photocopy, travel insurance, financial support proof for the trip, visa fees, and a document of the purpose of travel. The documents required to apply for a work visa include a copy of all academic and professional qualifications, a work experience certificate from previous employers, an employer’s reference letter, and signed client contract if any. 
Benefits A visa accrues more benefits to an individual than a work permit.A work permit accrues less benefits to a person than a visa. 

What is Visa?

By definition, a visa is signed and stamped documentation that permits the individual to enter another country on a legal basis.

A visa approval may be for a one-time visit or multiple visits. At most times, the visa is stamped on the passport of the visa-holder.

Additionally, there are varying types of visas depending on the purpose of applying. 

A student visa allows the visa-holder to seek education in the host country by enrolling in one of the educational institutions. A work visa is a type of non-immigrant visa.

In contrast, a tourist visa allows the visa holder to enter a host country for leisure and touristic purposes.

Another type of visa is the business visa, wherein the bearer conducts his business activities in the host country without joining its labor market. 

A person’s home country has a visa policy with other countries. This allows the individual to travel to those countries freely without any visa.

For example, individuals of Indian nationality don’t require a visa to travel to Bhutan, Nepal, or Indonesia. 

With advanced technology, e-visa has come into existence. E-visa is a digital visa that is neither stamped nor glued on the passport of the individual.

The documentation required to apply for a visa varies from country to country.  

visa

What is Work Permit?

A Work Permit is an employment document allowing the holder to work in the host country.

Work visas or work permits have different types depending upon their length of stay and the nature of work. Additionally, a work permit is issued by the company that hires the employee. 

A work permit doesn’t allow an individual to take up any other job except the one he’s called for.

In most cases, it is only possible to change the job once the person leaves the country and enters again with a new work permit.

An individual incurs zero costs when applying for a work visa. At times, the employing company also pays the flight fare and the accommodation.

A work permit can be as short as two years and as long as possible. The United States of America issues a three-year work visa.

Canada issues either Open Work Permits or Employer Specific Work Permits. A work visa may be temporary or permanent. Additionally, it is possible to extend a work visa if the employer wishes to do so. 

The documents required to apply for a work visa include a copy of all academic and professional qualifications, a work experience certificate from previous employers, a reference letter from the employer, and a signed client contract.

You can apply for a work visa online or offline by sending the visa application form to the embassy.

work permit

Main Differences Between Visa and Work Permits 

  1. A visa refers to signed and stamped documentation that enables an individual to enter a foreign country. In contrast, a work permit is a documentation that permits the holder to engage in any work in another country.
  2. The individual applying for the visa incurs all the costs. On the other hand, the national or international company employing the person pays for the work permit.
  3. A visa accrues more benefits to an individual than a work permit.
  4. The documentation required to apply for a visa includes an invitation letter, a passport photocopy, travel insurance, financial support proof for the trip, visa fees, and a document of the purpose of travel. In contrast, the documents required to apply for a work visa include a copy of all academic and professional qualifications, a work experience certificate from previous employers, a reference letter from the employer, and a signed client contract. 
  5. A visa is granted to an individual by the concerned immigration authorities visa. On the other hand, a work visa is granted by the company that hires the individual. 
Difference Between Visa and Work Permit
References
  1. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-94-6265-126-5_5 
  2. https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s11558-008-9033-6.pdf 

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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