Saturday, December 14, 2013

Reader Request: Getting Peruvian Residency If You Have a Criminal Record

Note: Full disclosure here I have never been detained, arrested, or charged with anything; I don't have a criminal record. I have run across people who have records and have managed to get visas. Here's all I know.

If I've said it once I've said it a thousand times, laws in Peru are not black and white, but shades of grey. I've had a couple people email me over the years and ask if it's possible to get Peruvian residency if they have a criminal record. They never tell me what's on their record, which is totally understandable. Everyone who has written to me has told me that they were young and stupid and haven't had any run-ins with the law since then.

One tip to remember is that speaking Spanish will help you greatly. You'll be treated differently than if you speak English all the time, it'll help you assimilate to the culture, and you'll be able to communicate easier.
I believe that there's no way you'll get a visa for Peru (or pretty much any country) if you have certain things on your record such as rape, murder, sex crimes, etc. In fact, here's what will definitely exclude you according to Peru this Week: convicted murderers, drug smugglers, illegal miners (gold, diamonds, etc), and being involved with organised crime. Take note that sex crimes aren't mentioned, though I'm willing to guess they would deny a visa to anyone convicted of them.

Expat Peru has contradictory information. They say that anything on your record will deny you a visa, but then say that they got their CE way before they got the results from their CBC (criminal background check). That's not to say that their home country and Peru aren't in contact though and Peruvian immigration gets the results before they do. 

There are three things to consider when applying for a visa.
  1. Will it even show up?: You'll have to undergo a federal check in order to get a visa in Peru. For Americans, that means an FBI check. Misdemeanors that happened over 7 years ago shouldn't show up. It varies by state, but 7 years seems to be the most common. The best way to find out is to ask a friend in law enforcement to run your name. If you get fingerprinted and it's been less than 7 years it will add another 7 years to whatever time is left. Once you find out your record is clean then you can get an FBI check. Most police stations charge about $20 to fingerprint you and you'll pay about $20 to the FBI to get your record. You can find the steps in apostillisations and criminal background checks.
  2. Misdemeanors: Now if you have misdemeanors, such as possession of drugs (not trafficking!) or underage drinking or drunk driving, it is possible to get a visa. I'm not saying that you will definitely get once, because each and every immigration officer is different, but it's possible. 
  3. When it happened: Let's say that you're 50 and when you were 17 you got busted for underage drinking. It was a one time thing and you've never had any issues, not even a parking ticket, since then. If it happened a long time ago and you haven't had any other issues, then it's much different than a 25 year old who has been busted three times for drugs.
If you are denied a resident visa you still might be able to live in Peru. Many people are allowed up to 183 days in Peru as a tourist at a time. You could go as a tourist, then travel for a couple of days and then go back to Peru as a tourist. Be aware that there's no guarantee that you will get 183 days. If you've border hopped a lot, or if they decide that they don't want to let you in because of your criminal background, they can deny you entry to Peru, so keep that in mind. If you're looking at teaching, you might also want to check out teaching with a criminal record. The latter has a list of countries where you can get a visa even if you have a criminal background.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Reader Request: Alternatives to Teaching English in Peru

Updated: 16 June 2014

While many people who come to Peru end up teaching English, there are lots of other things that you can do.

Many foreigners have set up businesses overseas. There are foreign owned language schools, bookstores, bars, and everything in between. Below are ways you can make money off line. Business Ideas dot net also has a lot of ideas. If you're going to offer products and services you usually have two choices: sell other people's stuff (and get a commission or buy wholesale and sell resale) or sell your own stuff. 

Remember that speaking Spanish will help you greatly if you're trying to start a business in Peru, whether big or small. You'll be treated differently than if you speak English all the time, it'll help you assimilate to the culture, and you'll be able to communicate easier.

Some do it legally and others work under the table. Some countries make it super easy to start a business, others have a high investment requirement and lots of paperwork, which is why people work under the table. Chances of getting caught are often slim though. If you're looking to make money online, check out the article I wrote about making money online.

Art: Sell what you create or teach classes. Check out what Anajali does.

Babysitting Service: Charge a monthly fee, annual fee, and / or a booking fee in addition to an hourly fee.

Baby Stuff: People are always having babies!

Bake: People love homemade goodies.

Bar: There's no doubt that English teachers like to drink. If you're going to set up a bar, you'll have to go the legal route though. Look at what Old Pub and Wolfhound have done. 

Beauty: Hairstyles, makeup, and more

Bookstore: There's always a demand for English books. Look at what Confederate Bookstore and What the Book have done.

Childbirth Educator: People are always having babies and you can help them learn about the options available to them. Look at what Tender Embrace Birthing does.

Children's Classes: Music, dance, crafts, are all great activities for kids.

Clothing: You can cater to kids or adults.

Cook: People always miss food. If you can cook you could try catering or even shipping ready to made meals. Look at what 6th Floor Cafe does.

Cooking classes: Teach people how to make the local dishes. Look at O'ngo.

Course Book Writer / Materials Writer: You can try to approach big name publishers (like Longman, Oxford, Cambridge, or MacMillan), local publishers, or chains.

Crafts: You could sell items you've made or teach people how to make things.

Dance: Teach dance classes.

Doula: Doulas have been proven to help women in labour. More and more families are hiring them.

Ebook: Write an ebook, You can even set up an affiliate scheme.

Editing / Proof-reading: Although getting a position at Oxford or Cambridge University Press might be difficult there are plenty of local publishers that would welcome a native speaker to help them out.

EFL / ESL Examiner: IELTS or Cambridge examiner. Recruitment information packs for applicants can be downloaded from the British Council and the Cambridge website.

Exam Writer: Someone's got to write the exam questions, so it might as well be you. Cambridge, IELTS, Michigan, and TOEFL are the big exams, so try contacting them for more info.

Facebook: Creating fan pages or writing content for them is possible if you're good with words.

Food: Sell items that expats want, like cereal, cheese, or chocolate. Look at what High Street Market and Fat Bag do. You could also export local foods like Afex Peru does.

Foreign exchanges: Help foreign students who come over to study. Check out what CCCAsia does.

Foreign goods: Although iherb is pretty reasonable, you could sell other items, cosmetics, clothes, shoes, etc.

Group classes: They could be in your home or you could rent out a small office.

Homestays: People who host students in their homes can be paid pretty well. You will probably also have to cook for them and may have to do their laundry.

Hostel: Open up a hostel. Look at Hostel Trail in Ecuador.

Interior Decorating: From giving advice about major revamps to the little details.

Language Institute: You could open up an English institute or better yet, open up one that teaches the local language to foreigners. Look at what El SOL does.

Magazine: Start an English magazine.

Newspaper: Start an English newspaper.

Organise classes: Find a teacher and a venue and organise a class. Charge people a registration fee for your services. Some people have organised CPR and first aid classes and charged $20 for the registration fee which is in addition to the teacher's and venue's fees.

Photographer: Many people want a professional photographer to capture moments such as an engagement, wedding, birth, or their children.

Private Students: Try to find a niche, whether it be teaching kids, Business English, exam prep, etc. Look here to find out how to teach private students

Property, see rental income.

Recruit Teachers: Check the local laws and immigration requirements. Your best bet might be setting up a business back in your home country. You'll have to establish contacts and might have to make guarantees (recruiters often promise to replace a teacher for free if they leave within six months). Most recruiters can earn up to one month of the teacher's salary for each teacher they place.

Rental Income: Houses in other countries may be cheaper than at home.Put the full downpayment on a property, keep it mortgaged, and use an agent to manage it. Buy a couple properties since it's better to have 4 properties with the tax advantages and rise in value than tying all your capital up in one property that just generates rent with no expenses to offset the income. Dmocha from Dave's ESL Cafe says that you may be able to get tax breaks for property as far as interest, improvements, and agent's fees go. Look at what Apartment Club Peru does.

Sell stuff: Buy low, sell high.

Sports: You can teach classes, such as yoga.

Subbing: Contact schools and ask to be put on their sub list.

Teacher: Teach other subjects like martial arts, visual arts, drama, sports, yoga, meditation, photography, childbirth education, or school subjects. The possibilities are limitless.

Teacher Training: If you've got the quals and experience try contacting intensive TEFL course providers. Some may have weekend courses or may need trainers during the breaks. Check out what Kagan Korea does.

Toiletries: Natural soaps, butters, and oils are in high demand.

Tour Guide: Being an English tour guide is a good way to earn extra money during the high season. You can give tours when you have time. You can have set prices or do free tours with donations like Guided Bucharest.

Translating: Contact local businesses and offer your services or put an advert up on Craigslist. Here's a list of where to advertise your translation services.

Traveling with students: Organise trips for students. They can be daytrips to local places or even longer trips overseas. If you get enough students together, you could take them back to your home country for a vacation where they could study and learn about the culture first-hand.

Workshops: Lots of publishers offer training sessions so contact publishers and ask if they can put you on their list.

Writer: Write a book or article, online or in print.


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