As Myanmar continues to open up after years of isolation, many foreign investors and multinational companies are entering the country for the first time. For those establishing businesses from the ground up, skilled and experienced foreign workers are often brought in to oversee the establishment of new operations.
The ability to employ skilled foreign workers is particularly important in Myanmar given the poor state of training and work-preparedness in the country.
But the laws concerning the employment of foreign workers in Myanmar are still developing, as is the case with many other regulations governing the country’s rapidly changing business environment. Myanmar lacks a comprehensive work permit system for foreign workers, though the National League for Democracy-led government is drafting legislation to create a more cohesive framework.
Only nationals from Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam can arrive in Myanmar visa-free, with a maximum stay of 14 days
That being said, there are currently multiple paths for foreigners to acquire legal working status in Myanmar, which will be explored below.
Obtaining a Business Visa
At present, most foreign workers in Myanmar enter and live in the country with a business visa.
Initially, most foreign workers acquire a single entry business visa valid for a 70 day stay. A multiple entry business visa can be acquired if the applicant has already had at least two single entry business visas and has not violated any immigration laws.
The criteria for awarding a multiple entry business visa are not set in stone, but rather determined on a case-by-case basis. In some cases, authorities might only require one previous single entry visa, while in other cases they may require three.
Multiple entry business visas allow for unlimited entries during a lifespan of three months, six months, or one year, though there is a maximum stay of 70 days per entry.
Citizens from 50 different countries are eligible to apply online for a 70 day single entry business e-visa. E-visas require entry into the country through Yangon, Mandalay, or Nay Pyi Taw airports.
Nationals from 48 countries are also able to acquire a business visa on arrival, while nationals of all countries can apply for one at a Myanmar embassy or consulate.
Only nationals from Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam can arrive in Myanmar visa-free, with a maximum stay of 14 days. While visa costs vary by country of origin, multiple entry visas are considerably more expensive than single entry ones.
The following documentation is required when applying for a business visa:
- A recommendation letter from the employer, including details about the type of business, purpose of visit, applicant’s name, passport details, position in company, and intended entry and exit dates
- Invitation letter from a Myanmar registered company on its official letterhead
- A guarantor from the Myanmar registered company who is the one officially inviting the applicant. The guarantor must be the managing director or owner of the company, and must give a copy of the Myanmar company registration certificate. The guarantor may be contacted by the immigration authorities during the application process
- Visa application form
- Two recent color photographs with white background size 35mm x 45mm
- Passport valid for at least six months and copy of the passport details page
- Next page