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Is Salvadoran citizenship worth $1 million?

El Salvador's new residency program attracts crypto investors — and skeptics.

On the docket today:
  • Bitcoin banditry? Crypto investors debate El Salvador’s new (and pricey) residency offering.

  • South Korea admits it needs more foreigners. The Justice Minister says a new immigration ministry could head off “extinction.”

  • Roman Abramovich in the crosshairs. Lithuania is poised to revoke citizenship of one of the world’s wealthiest men.

El Salvador’s bitcoin bet

A scene in El Salvador’s capital city, San Salvador. Photo by Mauricio Cuéllar on Unsplash

Bitcoin bros, take heed. The smallest and most densely populated of the seven Central American countries is offering residency and a pathway to citizenship for a cool $1 million in bitcoin.

The move puts El Salvador on the map as the first country ever to trade a passport for a cryptocurrency investment. But there’s a catch: the government is only accepting the first 1,000 crypto-rich applicants.

The program is expected to net the nation $1 billion.

So far, opinion is split. Critics are quick to point out the eye-watering cost, especially when Caribbean nations like Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, and St. Lucia dangle citizenship for as low as $100,000.

Even EU member Malta offers a more affordable passport at €750,000.

Its mega price tag has many questioning the value of a Salvadoran passport in the competitive citizenship market. At the time of writing, El Salvador enabled visa-free travel to only 134 countries.

I don't expect even 100 of the 1000 spots to be filled,” bitcoin investor KJ wrote on Twitter.

Despite the skepticism, some expect the program to gain traction with a select group of cryptocurrency investors.

President Nayib Bukele, just 42 years old, has transformed El Salvador into a crypto haven, offering tax breaks for tech firms and even giving bitcoin legal tender status.

The country's ambassador to the US, Milena Mayorga, told Forbes recently there was a surge of interest from companies keen to relocate to the country.

"We try to get rid of the bureaucracy. We try to accompany them in different meetings, according to the needs of each company," Mayorga said in the interview.

By some accounts, the strategy is working. Big names in the crypto world are flocking to El Salvador. Strike, a leading bitcoin payments processor, has already moved its HQ there, and issuer Tether 0.0%USDT is investing in a $1 billion renewable energy project for bitcoin mining.

With presidential elections on the horizon, some analysts suggest there is uncertainty about the program's future. Will this daring crypto citizenship experiment stand the test of time?

El Salvador's move is controversial and attention-grabbing. It's a high-stakes gamble in the volatile world of cryptocurrency and national identity – and everyone's watching.

South Korea’s looming “demographic catastrophe”

An empty street in Seoul, South Korea. Photo by rawkkim on Unsplash.

South Korea’s top law enforcement official wants the country to embrace immigration in the face of a rapidly shrinking population.

Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon is on a mission to address the nation's plummeting birth rates, which have dropped more than 60% since 2000.

In a recent address to lawmakers in Seoul, the minister didn’t mince words. “We have passed the stage of deliberating whether to implement [immigration reforms] or not. Because if we don't, we cannot escape the fate of extinction due to the demographic catastrophe.”

Han is pushing to create a new ministry focused on attracting global talent and consolidating immigration policy, which is currently managed by four different ministries at once. If current birth rates persist, the depopulation they cause could surpass the impact of the Black Death on Europe in the 14th century.

Lithuania moves to strip Roman Abramovich of citizenship

A consortium of journalists has obtained leaked documents suggesting that two children of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich held Lithuanian passports during a restructuring of their father’s fortune, which potentially shielded the family from billions of dollars in penalties from international sanctions.

Until the restructuring, Abramovich, sanctioned by the UK and EU, was the sole beneficiary of numerous trusts encompassing assets—luxury homes, yachts, and jets—valued at over $4 billion.

In response, Lithuania has proposed legislation allowing the government to revoke citizenship in the name of national security. “A Lithuanian passport cannot become a cover to circumvent sanctions,” said Lithuanian Interior Minister Agne Biloataite.

Other headlines


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