El Salvador’s pro-Bitcoin policies have won frequent praise from crypto enthusiasts around the world, promoting a vision of the country as a forward-thinking libertarian paradise.
Taking their support for President Nayib Bukele’s techno-economic agenda a step further, some Bitcoiners have even relocated to the crypto-friendly nation. In a bid to convince others to make El Salvador their home and attract investment to the country, the government has even launched a new Bitcoin visa scheme.
In its latest attempt to foster a crypto economy, El Salvador’s Migration Authority has invited “investors interested in contributing to building Bitcoin Country” to apply for its new “Freedom Visa” program.
The scheme offers a lifelong residency permit and route to citizenship for anyone who invests $1M worth of BTC or USDT in the country. Contributions will be used to fund economic development, cultural enrichment and social programs, the program’s website states.
Like similar “golden visas” around the world, the scheme extends residency status to any immediate family members who also make the move. It will have a cap at a maximum of 1,000 participants per year.
Promotional materials present El Salvador’s Freedom Visa as an opportunity to embrace the “Bitcoin lifestyle,” in a “land of economic liberty.”
The scheme builds on previous initiatives that have sought to incentivize investment and attract high-net-worth individuals. Unlike in most countries, Bitcoin isn’t subject to capital gains tax in El Salvador, providing what could be a significant draw for many crypto investors.
While Bukele is credited with spearheading efforts to promote cryptocurrency across the country, the President has cited the Pacific surf town of El Zonte as his inspiration.
After an anonymous American donor gifted El Zonte over $100,000 worth of BTC in 2019, it kickstarted a local Bitcoin economy and helped establish the cryptocurrency as a method of payment for businesses in the town, which soon earned the nickname Bitcoin Beach.
Taking the idea and running with it, in 2022, Bukele unveiled ambitious plans to build a whole new “Bitcoin City,” funded by dedicated government bonds and powered by geothermal energy from the nearby Conchagua volcano.
While critics continue to question the project’s viability, earlier this year, construction started on a new airport close to the site of the proposed new city.
Moreover, in recent weeks, the rising price of BTC has seen the government’s investments turn profitable.
Having paid an average price of just over $40,000 for each coin in its $131M Bitcoin portfolio, if the kind of crypto rally seen in 2020-2021 will repeat in the coming months, it could significantly benefit El Salvador’s public purse.