El Salvador to Offer “5,000 Free Passports” to Highly Skilled Immigrants

El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele yesterday announced that his country will offer “5,000 free passports” (by which he appears to mean citizenships) to highly skilled “scientists, engineers, doctors, artists, and philosophers from abroad.”

This number, said the President in a post on X, represents less than 0.1% of El Salvador’s population, so granting these individuals full citizen status, including voting rights, poses no issue.

Bukele believes their contributions will have “a huge impact on El Salvador’s society and future.”

He also said the government would ensure “0% taxes and tariffs on moving families and assets, including commercial value items like equipment, software, and intellectual property, to facilitate their relocation.”

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Presumably, the President will employ his discretion to grant citizenship by exception at scale to provide citizenship to individuals of exceptional merit. Bukele hinted more details about his new policy would be forthcoming.

The announcement comes shortly after Bukele’s landslide re-election in February. Last month, El Salvador’s Congress approved a reform to remove income taxes previously imposed on remittances from abroad, aiming to stimulate domestic and foreign investment and boost the economy.

El Salvador introduced the Freedom Visa program in late 2023, quickly making headlines for being one of the world’s first citizenship by investment programs to accept cryptocurrencies as payment for donations equating to at least $1 million at the time of the application.

Most industry observers consider the Freedom Visa program—which, despite its name, relates to the sale of citizenships rather than visas—uncompetitive in the global market for citizenship by investment.

Moreover, details about the program’s structure and requirements remain scant. So far, the Salvadorian government has not reported on how many investors have actually paid the hefty price tag for citizenship in the Central American country.

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Moustafa Daly AdministratorAuthorParticipant
Head of Digital , IMI

Moustafa Daly is the Head of Digital at IMI, based in Cairo.

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