El Salvador, in collaboration with Tether, has launched a distinctive citizenship-by-investment initiative targeting affluent investors interested in Bitcoin and Tether. The “Adopting El Salvador Freedom Visa Program” proposes granting up to 1,000 citizenships to individuals willing to invest a substantial $1 million in either Bitcoin (BTC) or Tether (USDT) within the country. However, the program’s ambition comes with a considerable price tag compared to similar initiatives in neighboring Caribbean nations.
Details of the Program
Announced by El Salvador’s government in partnership with Tether on Dec. 7, the program aims to attract investors to bolster the country’s economy. Participants are required to make a $999 nonrefundable deposit, serving as the initial step toward the total $1 million investment. If all available spots are filled, the program has the potential to generate a substantial $1 billion for El Salvador.
While El Salvador’s innovative initiative targets cryptocurrency investors, Alistair Milne, founder of Altana Digital Currency, has expressed reservations about its competitiveness on the global stage. Milne pointed out that acquiring citizenship in a European Union country, such as Malta, can be achieved for a lower amount—specifically 750,000 euros ($810,000). This further grants access to the EU’s visa-free Schengen Area.
Competition Within the Region
El Salvador’s citizenship cost appears to be notably higher than that of neighboring Caribbean nations like Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, and St. Lucia. These regions offer citizenship in exchange for a $100,000 contribution to sovereign development funds. Grenada and St. Kitts and Nevis also have similar programs, with contributions starting at $150,000 and $250,000, respectively. Despite the higher cost, El Salvador’s appeal may stem from President Nayib Bukele’s pro-Bitcoin policies. This includes the recognition of Bitcoin as legal tender and tax incentives for tech companies.
Government Policies and Controversies
President Bukele’s pro-Bitcoin stance has attracted attention, but the launch of the citizenship program has sparked debate. Some argue that the cost is excessive compared to alternatives, while others highlight the potential economic benefits for El Salvador. Bukele’s administration, with a focus on reshaping the country’s image, has faced criticism for its human rights record in efforts to reduce violence.
El Salvador’s venture into cryptocurrency-based citizenship programs represents a novel approach to attracting foreign investment. While the program’s cost may be a subject of contention, it underscores the country’s commitment to leveraging its crypto-friendly policies. As the global crypto community observes this experiment, the question remains whether El Salvador’s vision will successfully attract the anticipated influx of wealthy investors seeking citizenship through a substantial investment in Bitcoin or Tether.