Peru: Sweeping New Immigration Law Implemented

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By Lucien O. Chauvin

The Peruvian government is in the process of implementing a major revision to its immigration law (Legislative Decree 1350), the first substantial change since the enactment of Legislative Decree 703 in November 1991.

“This is the first overhaul in more than two decades,” said Norma Ramirez, an immigration lawyer and former head of immigration control at the international airport in Peru's capital Lima. “It corrects many problems that were detected and addressed by different directives, but which also allowed for too much discretion on the part of corresponding authorities.”

The 66-article Immigration Law was published on Jan. 7 and its 230-article implementing bylaws (Supreme Decree 007-2017-IN) on March 27. The bylaws require federal ministries and agencies to adjust their internal regulations to conform with the new law within 60 days, i.e., by the end of May.

The new law guarantees that foreign nationals working in Peru are eligible for the same health services, education and labor conditions as Peruvian nationals and allows foreign nationals to work in both the private and the public sectors.

According to the National Statistics and Information Institute, there are currently 103,854 foreign residents in Peru, 48 percent of them on work visas, 0.8 percent on investor visas and the remainder dependents, immigrants, religious, students or pensioners. The highest proportions of foreign residents are from Colombia (13.4 percent), Spain (10.2 percent) and the U.S. (7.5 percent).

Changes, Problems

Article 69 of the bylaws provides for nine types of temporary visa, including business and work visas granted for 183 days, and the legislation itself creates a special work permit valid for up to 60 days (Article 67). Article 80 of the bylaws establishes 18 types of resident visa granted on an annual basis and renewable thereafter, including visas for investors, researchers and workers.

The National Immigration Superintendency will coordinate the activities of the various agencies that oversee foreign nationals in the country, including the Immigration Superintendency, which issues worker visas, and the Foreign Affairs Ministry, which controls visas for diplomats and journalists.

While the new law is a substantial improvement, there are still areas of concern, Ramirez said, citing as an example the ambiguity of the treatment of reciprocity. If the legislation were applied as written, Ramirez said, Peru would have to require visas for nationals from all countries that impose that requirement on Peruvians, including the U.S. The legislation circumvents this problem by providing that reciprocity does not have to be identical, but in Ramirez's view, “it would have been better not to have included wording on reciprocity. It creates unnecessary problems.”

A second problem, according to Ramirez, is that the bylaws give too much discretion to the National Police in their enforcement of the legislation.

“Care needs to be taken to avoid discrimination,” Ramirez says, because this “opens possibilities for discretion on the part of authorities. Personnel need to be trained about the scope of the law, because no law can change things if it is not properly applied.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Lucien Chauvin in Lima at correspondents@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rick Vollmar at rvollmar@bna.com

For More Information

The Immigration Law and bylaws are available in Spanish here.

For more information on Peruvian HR law and regulation, see the Peru primer.

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