Early Bitcoin adopter, libertarian and millionaire investor Roger Ver has been denied a US visa to to attend a conference, despite having been born in the country.
Ver made his fortune by buying Bitcoin in 2011 at a price of around $1, but renounced his US citizenship last year. Speaking to Coindesk he said that he had sought legal advice prior to the move and had been assured that he would have no trouble getting visas.
In a tweet Ver complained that the US rejected his application within weeks of him paying a $325,000 tax bill to the country. Under US law even those who renounce citizenship can be liable for tax for up to a decade.
He also included in the tweet a photograph of himself wearing a tee shirt with the slogan “borders are imaginary lines”, which he reportedly wears whenever crossing international borders.
His application has been rejected three times at a cost of $160 each time.
A letter from the US government informed him that: “You have not demonstrated that you have the ties that will compel you to return to your home country after your travel to the United States.”
Ver officially lives in Tokyo, where he moved in 2005 after serving a ten month prison sentence in the US for selling large firecrackers on eBay, which the Department of Justice described as “dealing in explosives without a license”. However, he has a second home on Saint Kitts, a small island in the West Indies, which is where he was applying for the visa from.
Bloomberg reported in June that Ver had started a service offering a passport from the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis – which allows international travel to many countries without the need for visas, and a low level of taxation – in return for a Bitcoin payment. The small government had offered a similar service since 1984 but residents of some countries had found it difficult to get the necessary $400,000 real estate investment out of their own countries. Ver hoped that the unregulated nature of Bitcoin would make that process easier.
Speaking to Coindesk, Ver said: “I would be fine with them denying my visa if it was for a valid reason, but they are either lying, ignorant, or stupid when they claim that I plan to secretly overstay my visa and live as an illegal immigrant in the USA.”
Ver bought his first Bitcoins in 2011 at a price of around $1. Since then they have risen dramatically to as high as $1,242, but have since fallen back to around $287.
Since then he has been extremely active in the Bitcoin startup community, funding several companies and often handing out coins for free in order to raise awareness of the currency, earning him the nickname “Bitcoin Jesus”.