Logo de Confidencial Digital




Ortega Regime Brings in Millions From Migrant Fees Despite US Sanctions

Migration raised 53% of the total revenues expected in 2024 in the first quarter. Most of this came from charging migrants

Haitian migrants line up to buy a telephone chip at Managua's international airport. Photo: Confidencial

Redacción Confidencial

17 de junio 2024


Nicaragua's Directorate of Migration and Alien Affairs (DGME) collected 311 million córdobas (8.42 million USD) in migration fees in the first three months of 2024. The figure is equivalent to 53% of the annual goal of 586 million córdobas (15.4 million USD) according to the budget execution report for the year's first quarter, published by the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit and analyzed by CONFIDENCIAL.

If this pace of revenue collection continues, the Ortega regime will surpass 1 billion cordobas (27.1 million USD) in migration fees for the second consecutive year, despite recent sanctions from the United States aimed at preventing irregular migration from various countries promoted by the Ortega regime in Nicaragua.

The main source of revenue was recorded in the category “other fees for migration and immigration services,” which is related to the “fines” imposed on irregular migrants passing through Nicaragua on their way to the United States.

Through this collection from migrants, the DGME gathered 197 million córdobas (5.36 million USD), 89% of the 219 million (5.95 million USD) they projected to collect for all of 2024.

In 2023, this category brought in around 1.664 billion córdobas (45.2 million USD), the highest record ever reported, coinciding with the high transit of migrants using Nicaragua as a “springboard” to reach the United States.

According to complaints from many migrants, the authorities forced them to pay fines of 150 or 200 USD to obtain a supposed safe-conduct pass. The scheme set up by the regime and the airlines led the United States to impose sanctions on those who facilitate the transit of irregular migrants.

Ortega projected lower revenue following sanction threats 

After the sanctions were imposed, the dictatorship projected to collect up to seven times less from the “other fees for migration and immigration services,” expecting only 219 million córdobas (5.95 million USD). However, in the first three months of the year, it was already just 22 million (598,814 USD) short of reaching and surpassing this target.

According to data from the Central Bank of Nicaragua, the flow of passengers arriving in Nicaragua in 2024 continues to grow. Between January and March, around 198,500 passengers landed at Augusto C. Sandino International Airport, which is 50,000 more than in that same period in 2023.

“Increasingly, migrants are using Managua as a landing point to continue their journey north by land,” warned the U.S. Departments of State, Homeland Security, and Treasury last May.


Get the most prominent news about Nicaragua, every Wednesday, directly to your inbox.

In a statement, they expressed that “the actions of the Government of Nicaragua are of great concern,” as President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo “have implemented deliberately permissive immigration policies that have created opportunities for trafficking networks to exploit migrants for profit.”

Tourist cards as another source of revenue 

The DGME's second source of revenue comes from consular revenues. According to the newly published performance report, in the first three months of 2024, they collected 37 million córdobas (around 1.01 million USD), 39% of the 94 million (2.56 million USD) expected for the year.

Through immigration clearance fees, they collected 27 million cordobas (734,350 USD) out of the 52 million cordobas (1.42 million USD) expected to be collected this year. 

The collection from tourist cards is close to surpassing the 2024 target. Between January and March, the DGME accumulated 21 million córdobas, (571,435.50 USD) 73% of the 29 million (788,495.79 USD)expected for the entire year. Last year, 88 million córdobas (2.39 million USD) were collected from these cards.

For airport terminal fees, the DGME collected eight million córdobas (217,887 USD). The amount collected from this fee has increased since 2022. That year, it surpassed 51 million córdobas (1.4 million USD) for the first time.

In 2023, it dropped to 43 million (1.2 million USD), but it is still higher than the 25 million (679,924 million USD) collected in 2019, before the arrival of COVID-19.

Migration also continues to increase its revenues by expediting passports, residence card procedures, and extension of stay in Nicaragua.

This year, they expect to collect 162 million córdobas (1.7 million USD) from these three categories; however, growth in these areas is slower. In the first quarter, they only managed to collect 19 million (516,891 USD).

This article was published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by our staff To get the most relevant news from our English coverage delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe to The Dispatch.


Your contribution allows us to report from exile.

The dictatorship forced us to leave Nicaragua and intends to censor us. Your financial contribution guarantees our coverage on a free, open website, without paywalls.

Redacción Confidencial

Redacción Confidencial

Confidencial es un diario digital nicaragüense, de formato multimedia, fundado por Carlos F. Chamorro en junio de 1996. Inició como un semanario impreso y hoy es un medio de referencia regional con información, análisis, entrevistas, perfiles, reportajes e investigaciones sobre Nicaragua, informando desde el exilio por la persecución política de la dictadura de Daniel Ortega y Rosario Murillo.