El Salvador Offers Golden Visa for $1 million in USDT, Is This Another Crypto Gambling By Bukele?

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El Salvador has launched its “Adopting El Salvador Freedom Visa Programme” which will hand over automatic citizenship to investors who invest at least $1 million of Tether USDt or Bitcoin in the country.

Main Points:

  • El Salvador’s Golden Visa is called “Adopting El Salvador Freedom Visa Programme ” which is an investment initiative that gives investors the privilege to get residency permits with $1 million in USDT or Bitcoin investment.
  • Just like it became the first country to make Bitcoin legal tender, El Salvador has also become the first country to sell citizenship in cryptocurrency.
  • Investors can move their family with a single application
This screenshot shows the application fee for El Salvador's visionary freedom programme. Investors must invest $1 million in USDT or Bitcoin to become El Salvador's citizen

It is one moves by Central American country to attract long-term residents to the country.

El Salvador hit the headlines in 2021 after announcing Bitcoin as a legal tender complementing the U.S. Dollars.

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The new crypto “Freedom VISA” program will accommodate 1,000 Bitcoin or Tether USDT investors per year with a strong technical partnership with Tether Operations Limited.

“This collaboration signifies a pivotal milestone in our dedication to economic development and innovation.

“The ‘Adopting El Salvador Freedom Visa Program” offers an extraordinary opportunity for individuals to actively participate in shaping a prosperous future for our nation”.

says El Salvador’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Adriana Mira.

For Tether, it shows the company’s commitment to supporting financial freedom and innovation by deploying its technological capacities in the digital decentralized financial world.

“Being chosen as the tech provider underscores the importance of robust infrastructure in driving meaningful change.”

CEO of Tether, Paolo Ardoino, said in an official statement published on Friday.

Application fee

An eligible participant will commit an application fee of a non-refundable $999 in USDT or BTC, according to a statement by the technical handler of the programme, Tether Operations Limited.

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The registration process which has already gone live Friday only requires your first name, last name, valid email, and ensure to read through the T&C of the programme.

Application Process for El Salvador Visionary Programme

1) Fill in your first and last name, email address, and create a strong password

2) Check the T&C box to register on the online registration portal which has already launched by Tether together with El Salvador ‘s Migration Authority on December 8, 2023

3) Check your email address for the 5-digit OTP

4) Then click the “Apply for Immigration” link to proceed

5) Complete the name and contact section, including your date of birth, nationality, phone number

6) Then save and proceed to the next page: “Address” to fill in your proof of residence and equally upload your proof of address using the utility bill.

7) Next is your means of identity such as national ID, drivers license, or passport. Ensure that the document is valid and clear, and not cropped.

8) Clicking to proceed to step 5 will take you to the payment page.

9) Payment will be processed by Bitfinex, Tether’s sister company owned by iFinex Inc.

10) If you choose to pay manually, BTC address will be displayed for you

11) The application fee $999 in USDt payment link expires in 24 hours.

Note: Your payment must be confirmed before the review process will begin on your application.

12) Your application will be reviewed for KYC Process after payment and confirmation of a a non-refundable application fee of 999 USD in USDt or BTC

13) Payment link for $1 million in USDT or BTC will be sent to you via email.

14) Upon completion of the payment process, your Freedom Visa will be issued.

15) You will receive your Freedom Visa by post or collect it in person, depending on the method of delivery you choose.

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What’s the duration for approval?

According to information on the government’s website, process time can take a maximum of six weeks. However, submission of application takes less than five minutes.

Family application

The visionary freedom programme allows families to apply together. According to information from the government, the main applicant can include one spouse and all children under the age of 18.

The total fee for successful applicants and their family members is $1 million, including a non-refundable $999 application processing fee.

What Freedom Visa Programme mean for El Salvador

Adopting El Salvador Freedom Visa Programme is similar to the concept of a “Golden VISA” also known as Immigrant Investor Programme offered by several countries.

Golden Visa countries include the United States, United Kingdom, UAE, Germany, Canada, Spain, Malta, Dominica, Anguilla, Turkey, Grenada, Belgium, Switzerland, Greece, Austria, and Portugal.

Immigrant Investor Programmes are programmes where wealthy people can invest a certain amount into that country’s economic development such as bonds or property in return for a residency permit.

But for the Freedom Visa Programme, El Salvador becomes the first country to make residency possible through Bitcoin or USDt investments.

The investor programme could fetch El Salvador at least $1 billion in deposits if the 1,000 slots are filled every year.

But El Salvador’s investor programme is more expensive than others in the bloc. While you need at least CAD $250,000 for Canada’s Golden Visa, $250K for Turkey, and $100K to get a Dominican passport, El Salvador’s freedom visa is $1,000,000 in Tether USDt or BTC.

List of Prohibited countries

Since the programme launched, investigations revealed that some residents of some countries might not be able to apply for the Adopting El Salvador Freedom Visa Programme.

“We regret to inform you that your jurisdiction is currently on our list of prohibited regions, and unfortunately, you are not eligible to apply for the Freedom residency Visa.”

The prohibited jurisdictions are:

  • The United States
  • US Virgin Islands
  • American Samoa
  • Canada
  • Puerto Rico
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But the government, while clarifying, said, “Americans and Canadians can apply in person at the nearest Embassy or Consulate of El Salvador, or via the country’s virtual consulate.”

Is the new El Salvador’s Golden Visa another crypto gambling by Bukele?

Since El Salvador became the first country to adopt Bitcoin as a legal tender in 2021, some of the crypto policies in the country witnessed some sort of indifference from citizens while the country has reported losses in millions, following BTC fall.

For instance, President Nayib Bukele urged citizens to get involved in his Bitcoin campaign, launching a digital wallet called “Chivo” on September 7, 2021, with a $30 sign-up bonus in BTC.

And in less than three weeks, Bukele taunted his critics in a tweet that, “2.1 million Salvadorans are ACTIVELY USING @chivowallet,” boasting that the digital wallet “has more users than any bank in El Salvador”.

Despite the $30 bonus that comes with Chivo digital wallet, some critics say El Salvadoreans ditched it for centralized finance.

But Bukele remains unperturbed by criticisms such that he invited more than 40 countries to the country’s Bitcoin city, showing them how his government plans to change the fortunes of El Salvador through cryptocurrency.

The country’s president has been taking some controversial decisions such as acquiring more Bitcoins which turned disastrous following volatility in the crypto market.

Will Adopting El Salvador Freedom Visa Programme be a turnaround for the economic development of the country or another scheme that could threaten the source of livelihood of locals as a result of expansion?

Author

  • Opeyemi Quadri

    Ope is a finance writer and researcher with 10+ years of experience in content creation. His interests cut across decentralized finance, investment, foreign exchange, government policies and politics.

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