El Salvador’s Bitcoin Citizens
El Salvador, one of the most crypto-friendly nations in Latin America, offers citizenship to foreigners making Bitcoin donations based on recently approved legislation.
The initiative by the El Salvador government was spearheaded by President Bukele’s ruling Nuevas Ideas party, which gained majority support in Congress, providing an alternative pathway to El Salvadoran citizenship.
According to the latest legislation, the new option for obtaining citizenship allows individuals with some Bitcoin holdings to gain citizenship through Bitcoin donations instead of the standard requirements.
The move of the Latin American country will support the nation’s social and economic initiatives through the exact donation amount to the government.
Previously, non-speaking immigrants of El Salvador had to reside in the country for five years to be eligible for citizenship.
Last December 8, 2023, the country introduced the “Adopting El Salvador” program, designed to expedite the citizenship process for foreign Bitcoin investors.
The country will provide free citizenship to any foreigners when they invest $1 million in USDT; these investors can fast-track their Salvadoran passport acquisition. However, this opportunity is limited to 1,000 applicants only per year.
How the Law was Passed
The Salvadoran Congress passed a new migration law that offers accelerated citizenship to foreign nationals who contribute Bitcoins to the nation’s social and economic development initiatives.
The legislation was approved on Wednesday, December 22 (El Salvador Time). It was supported by President Nayib Bukele’s ruling party and is anticipated to be enacted soon. It will align with the President’s re-election campaign for the upcoming February 4, 2024 elections in El Salvador.
The government policy specifically targets “altruistic foreigners” who wish to aid the Latin American country’s development by donating Bitcoins.
The law allows eligible individuals to bypass the standard naturalization requirement of five years of permanent residency for non-Spanish speakers or two years for those married to Salvadorans.
El Salvador as Pioneer in Bitcoin Adoption
El Salvador has been a pioneer in adopting Bitcoin as an official currency since 2021, but its widespread acceptance and implementation have been gradual and somewhat limited. The move has attracted some Bitcoin advocates, primarily to coastal regions.
Presently, Bukele’s government, facing financial challenges, is negotiating with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for new financing amidst slow economic growth and IMF concerns over the risks of bitcoin as legal tender.
Bukele’s bid for re-election is controversial, given constitutional provisions that seemingly forbid consecutive terms. However, in 2021, El Salvador’s top court, appointed by Congress, ruled in favor of his eligibility to run again, a decision that received significant international criticism, including from the United States.
The Central American country made some history regarding Bitcoin adoption; in September 2021, it became the first to make Bitcoin legal tender, requiring all businesses to accept the cryptocurrency.
In an initial attempt at mass adoption, El Salvador gave its citizens financial incentives for downloading a particular cryptocurrency app, Chivo. Half the nation’s 6.3 million population downloaded the app when the Bitcoin Law was passed.
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