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December 8, 2023

El Salvador launches freedom visa

We’ve been waiting for El Salvador to launch a Citizenship by Investment program ever since bitcoin was announced to become legal tender. We even played around with numbers to understand what it would mean to the country and the roadblocks policy makers and the government would run into in THIS ARTICLE.

Yesterday, their Freedom Visa program launched in a collaboration with Tether.

I am trying to make sense of this announcement and the language of the official announcement is either in line with true politics – where you can’t actually understand details or it’s just poorly written by a person who has never been involved in anything close to immigration. 

Quote from Tether announcement:

“The program’s application process is streamlined to encourage visionary contributions to El Salvador’s economic development, cultural enrichment, and societal upliftment.

The process requires a non-refundable $999 USD deposit in Bitcoin or USDt, and all accepted applicants must pass KYC. Upon acceptance, the deposit will be credited toward the $1 million in Bitcoin or USDt investment required to secure the Freedom Visa and then citizenship.

This investment enables participants to secure the Freedom Visa and actively contribute to the nation’s growth. Families also have the opportunity to apply collectively, allowing eligible family members, such as spouses, children, and dependent relatives, to join in shaping El Salvador’s future.


The things that I found confusing:

What is the immigration power of a “Freedom Visa”?

My guess is it’s similar to a Golden Visa or a Permanent Residency program. 

What am I investing into?

A certain amount of money that most likely would be coming from a seasoned investor, that would like to look into potential ROIs and much more.

In the Citizenship by Investment industry, the word “investment” sometimes covers the Donation route as well. 

What is “THEN”? 

quote: $1 million in Bitcoin or USDt investment required to secure the Freedom Visa and then citizenship. There is no particular timeline they follow.

What makes an applicant eligible for a citizenship? 

Eligible candidates will be able to obtain citizenship. (from application website)

My guess is – just like in any general naturalization process, eligibility for naturalization comes with a requirement of holding the residency for 5 years, passing the citizenship exam testing your knowledge of El Salvador and its history, as well as your ability to speak and write in Spanish.

Elon Musk format?

Just like Elon launched $100 deposits for teslas and cybertrucks, this program seems to be collecting enough funds to develop the policy and build the team to facilitate the process later on. Right now, they are allowing 1,000 applicants to submit $999 deposits towards the $1 million contribution. Since it’s such a small number, a lot of people will probably apply but perhaps won’t actually complete the process. This allows El Salvador to build out a residency by investment unit to facilitate the Freedom Visa program later. 

Here’s the good news, I applied so you don’t have to!

With a few website errors aside, the process was quite smooth.

All that I was required to provide was: 

  • Proof of residency (Utility bill under your name) 

  • Government issued ID – passport/DL

  • Basic information – name and address 

  • And a payment of $999 in USDt or BTC.

This KYC process is nothing like an actual immigration due diligence, and my guess is the actual due diligence process awaits for you later on.

Existing KYC just covers Tether’s legal requirements and is by no means your actual Freedom Visa application.

I will keep you posted once I get to the next step of my application. 

In the meantime, I am going to try and get to the bottom of all the questions I have regarding the program.

Stay tuned!