Ethiopia is a wonderful and beautiful country that is very well known for the discovery of coffee. The story of the discovery of coffee is quite interesting, an Ethiopian Shepard started to notice his goats were very restless when they ate the leaves and then this was explored further to make what we know today as the drink that no one can do without. Ethiopia is not just known for its coffee but also its vast beauty in landscape and history. People from all over the world come to visit this beautiful country. The visits are sometimes more than just for tourism but stem further into work trips.

Ethiopia’s Economy

Ethiopia has shown some very impressive economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa. It is the fifth biggest economy which is at the focal point of emerging economies’ interest.

Julians Amboko, research analyst at Stratlink Africa from CNBC Africa stated, “If you look at it [Ethiopia] from an economic stand point, I think Ethiopia is one of the countries that has become the quint essential embodiment of the Africa rising narrative,”

The country’s economic growth is principally attributed to intense government projects aimed at achieving becoming a middle income status by 2025. The Ethiopian government is in the process privatizing many of the state-owned businesses and moving toward a market economy. This will open many doors for investments in the country and creates opportunities for many private companies that want to enter the market.

The lack of a business visa…

When it comes to visits beyond just tourism one must be careful as to be compliant. Ethiopia is special due to the fact that it does not have a business visa but a work visa. Usually a Business Visa is for Those who would like to travel for a short duration for business related reasons that do not require actual labor work. However, when it comes to Ethiopia regardless of what type of work visit a person is taking they must apply for a work visa even if it is just for meetings.

What’s the difference between a work permit and a work visa?

The terminology can be confusing because there is the work permit and work visa. The work visa is strictly for meetings and is institution specific. To be able to do actual work in Ethiopia one must apply for a work permit, there is only a slight change in terminology and this should not be confused with a work visa. Essentially, a work visa is what is known as a business visa in other countries. It enables the entry into the country to work and attend business meetings for 30 days and can be renewed three times. Whereas, the work permit is issued for up to 3 years and can be renewed annually. The work permit also requires much more documentation than the work visa.

Once the work permit is issued, there is a residency stage that the applicant must apply for separately from the work permit. There is a separation between residency and work authorization.

How do I obtain a work permit?

A work permit is issued to a person upon showing that an Ethiopian cannot perform the work. This often means that the ex-pat applicant has a combination of education and experience in a type of work or at a level that is hard to find in the country. Work permit applications are decided on a case-by-case basis. The short term work permit is functionally not different from a long term work permit and the requirements are similar for both types of work permits.

Work authorization is granted to allow one to work in Ethiopia. However, in order to also reside in Ethiopia whilst working, an additional residence permit is required. The residence permit applications are handled by the Main Department of Immigration and Nationality Affairs and the work and residence permit are required to legally live and work in Ethiopia.

The application for the work permit must be submitted by our local provider because local authorities need to be approached. After approval of the work authorization, the second application for the residence permit must be submitted.

It is important to ensure that the immigration part of the relocation process is started as early as possible and well in advance of your actual assignment date as requirements and procedures are likely to change at times.

How long will it take to process my work permit application?

The permit is always processed inside the country and currently it takes about 15 days once the application is submitted. The processing time may increase or decreases depending on the queue at the Ministry. It is issued by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, and Ethiopian Investment Commission (it only takes one to two working days at the Commission to process the work permit)

Closing thoughts

In conclusion, Ethiopia embraces the expatriate community and tries to assist with ease of their applications via fast processing time and more tailored work permits and Visas. However, it is important to apply for a work visa even if only attending meetings. This is a very important detail that corporates must be attentive to in order to be compliant.

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Please do not hesitate to contact us for advice regarding immigration & visa, setting up business, property transfer & investment.

by Ahlam Nasser