The countries with the most and least expensive work visas

Passports from different countries.
Passports from different countries.

Working abroad can be an enriching experience with diverse opportunities to grow and learn. But first, expats must apply for a work visa, and some countries charge much more than others for the privilege.

Three Latin American nations, Australia, and the US top the list of those with the most expensive work visas, according to a new report by international insurance provider William Russell. Colombia recently launched a digital nomad visa that has made it an attractive place to work. Though living expenses are relatively low for many expats, Colombia charges the most for a work visa—$297 on average—of any country on the list. However, a Colombian M-5 work visa is good for up to three years.

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Mexico and Chile also have higher work visa fees, at $246 and $153 on average, respectively. The Mexican work visa is a temporary resident permit that lasts up to four years. Chile offers several types, including the “subject to contract” visa, which allows foreigners to live and work there as long as their employer is a Chilean company.


Australia also has specific visas depending on the type of work an expat plans to do, with an average fee of $226. The US charges an average of $189 for a work visa, but for foreigners, obtaining one through an employer is mired in complications.

The countries with the cheapest work visas

Israel, Switzerland, and Spain have the lowest average work visa fees. While Israel’s work permit fee is the cheapest, at $47, it must be renewed annually. Work visas in Switzerland, averaging $55, also typically last a year. At about $57 on average, Spain’s employee visa lasts 90 days, with the duration of employment authorized once the worker registers with the country’s social security system.


South Korea has several options for work visas, averaging $65 and tailored to specific skills and for job seekers. It also offers a self-employment visa for those wishing to start a new business. Work permits for expats in Canada, which average $88, are always temporary, but they can be extended and provide a stepping-stone to residency for some skilled workers.

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