Immigration control in El Salvador is the responsibility of the Ministry of the Interior. It includes the organisation and coordination of services related to the entry and exit of nationals and foreigners in the territory of the Republic through the review and qualification of documents. It also examines the problems that this movement generates, and ensures the monitoring of compliance with legal provisions related to the stay and activities of foreigners in the country.
According to the Migration Act, there are different immigration categories: tourists; temporary residents; and definitive residents.
Any foreigner may obtain the category of temporary resident or definitive resident; except those that have a contagious disease, profess ideas contrary to democracy, endanger the peace or security of the State, or represent a danger to the public interest.
Tourists: are those that enter the country with recreational, health, family, religious, sports, cultural, or other similar purposes; or who enter as persons in transit and remain in national territory for more than 48 hours, up to 90 days, or for another like period; but who are not allowed to work.
Temporary residents: foreigners that wish to enter El Salvador under this category must accredit their authorisation by means of a visa issued by the Consul of El Salvador at their place of origin or at the closest available consulate, prior authorisation by the Ministry of the Interior. Under this category, entry to the country can be for up to one year to dedicate him/herself to some scientific, cultural or athletic activity, work as a technician or specialised worker, or exercise any other temporary activity. This category also applies to persons that enter the Republic to protect their freedom and life from political persecutions. In this case they will be subject to the provisions of the International Conventions in force related to this subject, and the special regulations determined by national authorities.
Definitive residents: persons that wish to enter the country under this category, as is the case of temporary ones, must request permission from the Ministry of the Interior through the pertinent consular officer or by means of a legal representative or proxy residing in the Republic.
Foreigners that enter under this category acquire the right to remain in the country for an indefinite period, provided that they submit evidence of good health, have a history of ethics and competence for work –as well as a profession, craft or trade– or sufficient resources to establish him/herself in licit financial, industrial or commercial activities.
The Migration Act provides that a foreigner may obtain definitive residency if he/she proves to have remained in the country for ten years prior to enactment of the law, even though he/she does not comply with the legal requirements. It is mentioned that the entry of definitive residents will not be authorised when the activities they intend to perform in the country cause displacement of or competition with Salvadorans.