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El Salvador Citizenship, Golden Visa & Residency by Investment

Mark Damsgaard

Mark Damsgaard

Founder of Global Residence Index

Last updated: February 21, 2024

El Salvador recently unveiled a citizenship by investment program, which, while anticipated, arrived with a presentation that left many, including myself, with mixed feelings. The program, aimed at attracting wealthy individuals, requires a significant donation of one million US dollars in Bitcoin or USDT. This investment grants Salvadorian residency, eventually leading to citizenship. However, the specifics of this transition from residency to citizenship remain vague.

The Freedom Visa: A Closer Look

Dubbed the “Freedom Visa,” this initiative is more of a donation to the country rather than an investment. Applicants are promised approval within six weeks, but it’s crucial to note that this is just for the visa, not the citizenship. The process from obtaining the visa to the passport is still unclear, raising questions about the program’s transparency and effectiveness.

Comparing Passport Benefits

The Salvadorian passport offers comparable benefits to Caribbean passports, with access to Europe, Russia, and certain Asian countries like Korea, Japan, and the Philippines. However, it lacks access to destinations like the US, Canada, and the UK. This limitation could be a significant deterrent for potential applicants, especially compared to programs like Malta’s, which offers a more powerful passport and EU residency for a similar investment.

Future Prospects and Concerns

El Salvador’s growing relationship with Eastern countries like China and Russia is noteworthy. Significant investments from China, including infrastructure projects, hint at future enhancements to the passport’s power, possibly including visa-free access to China. However, El Salvador’s alignment with Eastern powers may hinder its ability to secure visa-free travel agreements with Western countries.

The Direction of El Salvador

Under the leadership of Nayib Bukele, El Salvador has transformed, becoming safer and more stable. However, Bukele’s frequent criticism of Western powers may impede the development of beneficial relationships for El Salvador and its citizens, further impacting the attractiveness of its citizenship program.

Who is it For?

The program seems tailored for ultra-high-net-worth individuals with a deep affinity for El Salvador or those heavily invested in cryptocurrencies. However, for the average millionaire or crypto enthusiast looking for a Plan B, the program’s high donation requirement and lack of clarity might be unappealing.

Final Thoughts

El Salvador’s citizenship by investment program has potential but requires significant improvements to attract a broader audience. As it stands, the program seems limited to a very niche market. It will be interesting to see if El Salvador makes the necessary adjustments to appeal to a broader range of investors and crypto enthusiasts seeking alternative citizenship options.

Click here to learn more about citizenship by investment with Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.

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