Residence for investors in Central America

Regional Immigration Law Team

One of the recurrent migratory categories that can be found throughout Central America is the Residency for Investors. This category of residence as an investor is granted to foreigners and their dependents, who invest a sum of money in real estate, registrable goods, shares, securities and productive projects or projects of national interest (the amount of investment is determined differently by each country). This type of residency is requested by foreigners who have long-term plans to reside in a country. Its granting can be from one year to 5 years, and it can be extended. In the case of Honduras, the investment residency is permanent from the beginning.

The types of investment that must exist specifically in each country are:

Guatemala: investments through foreign capital within the country. The minimum amount to be considered an investor is one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000.00 USD). Any foreign person, except for the limitations established in the Political Constitution of the Republic and other laws, has the right to obtain property in the national territory, as well as to invest in companies, businesses or legal entities, in accordance with the national legislation. The investment must generate the expectation of obtaining profits or benefits; likewise, such investment must be made with lawful income.

Honduras: The residence for investment is of permanent character. The investment may be in any branch of lawful economic activity in Honduras, as long as it is for a minimum of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000.00 USD). Foreigners who invest their capital in certificates, securities or bonds of the State and national financial institutions may also acquire this status).

El Salvador: There is only one type of investment. Such foreign investment must be previously approved by the National Investment Office (ONI) and such investment must be for the amount of at least four minimum wages in force, which for the last quarter of 2022 is equivalent to one million four hundred and sixty thousand dollars ($ 1,460,000.00 USD).

Nicaragua: It is recognized as foreign investment the one made through the transfer to Nicaragua of foreign capital regardless of the nationality or place of residence of the investor, as long as such investment is for commercial purposes (it cannot be considered as investment to buy a property to live in it). The minimum amount for the Registration of the Investment is thirty thousand dollars ($30,000.00 USD).

Costa Rica: For the request of temporary residence as an investor, the interested foreign person must demonstrate his/her investment with a capital of not less than one hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($150,000.00 USD) according to the official exchange rate determined by the Central Bank of Costa Rica, either in real estate, registrable goods, shares, securities and productive projects or projects of national interest.

This residency is regulated in the Immigration Law of each country and in the case of Guatemala in its Immigration Code. Among the general and standard requirements that apply to all countries, the following requirements must be provided for such category:

    • Written application.
    • Passport size photographs of each applicant (principal or family).
    • Original and valid passport (with a certified copy).
      The entry/stamp to the country must be stated in the passport.
    • Birth certificate of the foreigner duly legalized and apostilled.
    • Certificate of criminal record from his/her country of origin of the place where he/she has resided legally during the last years, duly legalized and apostilled.
      Apostilled Marriage Certificate in case of coming with spouse.
    • Notarized affidavit stating the economic activity to which he/she will be dedicated and the period of stay in the national territory.
    • Reliable proof of investment according to the limits of each country.
    • Payment of the fiscal stamps, proper of each country, prior to the presentation of the procedure.
    • Any other information or document required by the Secretary of State or the General Directorate of Immigration in each country.

All documents coming from abroad must be duly legalized or apostilled and those authorized in a foreign language must be officially translated into Spanish.

Something important to mention is that of the types of residences that may exist, the Investor’s Residence is one of the residences that takes the longest to be approved and that the authorities do not tend to accept easily. Much of its admission is subject to the discretion of the Immigration officers; which generates that they may ask for additional documents prior to its approval.

In the specific case of Costa Rica, there is talk of an eventual reform to this category, which could require that the investments appear in the personal capacity of the interested party. This generates some concern to foreigners who have recently acquired properties (real estate) in the name of an anonymous company, since it could mean that they will have to incur in previous expenses to change the owner of the property.

If any of our readers is interested in initiating a process as an Investor, we urge them to write to us at to offer them specialized advice in each country.