Contrary to what many think, El Salvador is a recipient of migrants and foreigners entering for tourism, business, investment and work. Migration of foreigners in these areas represent growth opportunities for the country, both in tourism as in business consolidation that often becomes the prelude of investment and all its known benefits like the creation of jobs and improvement of living conditions of the population.
In the field of migration for business or work, it is common to be confronted with the need to seek for interpretations within the Salvadoran immigration legal framework to find solutions to situations that are not yet covered. The reason for this is largely due to the fact that the Migration Act -the main regulation tool in this area- dates from 1958, and has had very few amendments, most recently in 2006.
According to the Migration Act, the only types of existing permits for a foreigner to work in El Salvador are temporary residence with work permit and permanent residence. On the other hand it does not provide work visas but only entry visas to carry-out unpaid activities in the country. However, permits or visas for a foreigner to perform specific tasks and work that does not require a long -term stay do not exist in law, as it provides no other option other than the above mentioned.
For a foreign investor with expectations of finding in the country clear rules in all matters, including migration, this situation may obstruct the development of local investment plans, particularly when it comes to companies seeking to temporarily hire foreign companies for the execution of works in the country, or for those who plan to hire specialized personnel from abroad to implement modernization programs, trainings or others in order to improve and strengthen infrastructure, machinery or its own staff, with the goal of achieving a competitive advantage in the global market.
If a foreigner begins to work without a permit, both the company that hired him as the worker himself can be fined by the relevant authorities. However it often happens that the timeframe for obtaining such work permit is sometimes longer than the overall stay period required to perform the paid work in the country.