Passport for money: 11 countries where you can buy citizenship, residency

Most countries offer fast-tracked residency permits and, ultimately, citizenship in return for investments in local businesses and property. While citizenship by investment (also known as economic citizenship) is the granting of citizenship status to an individual upon a specified investment in the country, residency by investment is getting a permanent residency card by investment routes. 
Over the past few decades, many prominent countries have earned billions by offering such citizenships. A look at some of the countries where you can easily buy citizenship or residency if you have the money.

Thailand

Thailand's new residence-by-investment programme, also called RIP, gives foreigners the right to live in the country for up to 20 years. The most popular one is for $15,902, where customers can secure residency that gives them visa-free travel. The country also offers several "elite residency" packages costing $60,000 a year, along with an annual fee of approximately $600, some including health checkups, spa treatments and VIP handling from government agencies.

The Caribbean Islands

Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Lucia are very popular destinations among rich people. Here citizenship can be bought for anywhere between $100,000 to $250,000. Once paid, the citizenship is issued within three to four months. The citizenship offers visa-free travel to more than 130 destinations, such as the Schengen zone, UK, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and others. The countries are popular among businessmen and entrepreneurs as they offer much lower tax rates than many developed countries.
Antigua and Barbuda

The country is the current abode of absconding diamond merchant Mehul Choksi. One can get citizenship in the country with a mere investment of $100,000 to the National Transformation Fund, or make an investment of $400,000 plus in real estate. The applicant can get a passport which ensures visa-free travel to 132 countries including the UK and all countries of the Schengen area.
Malta

Malta's citizenship-for-sale scheme requires a $787,556 donation to the national development and social  fund and a $408,362 property purchase.
Cyprus

Cyprus has been running one of the most desirable citizenship-by-investment schemes in the world since 2013. Under the scheme, foreign investors who spend $2.4 million for a passport, can stay and do business in the country with a low corporate tax rate of 12.5%, and enjoy more than 300 days of sunshine a year.  It also offers residency options with an investment of $300,000.
Bulgaria

In Bulgaria, an investment of $1,194,752 in government bonds can give you a Bulgarian citizenship and passport. While a $596,550 investment in government bond portfolio for five years is enough to qualify for residency programme.

United Kingdom

Among all advanced economies in the world, UK offers the most affordable Residency by investment programme in the world. For Tier 1, the minimum investment needed is $260,000 in UK government bonds, shares or loan capital in active British companies. After two years applicants can invest $13.12 million in order to settle permanently. The passport gives travel access to 177 destinations.


United States

With the US tightening many of its visa programmes, most experts have been advising high net worth individuals to enter the country through EB-5 visa. The visa programme, created in 1990, enables foreign investors to obtain a US visa by investing in a business that will benefit the US economy and create jobs. EB-5 visa applicants are typically required to make either a $500,000 or $1 million capital investment.

Australia

Australia has been running a golden visa programme since 2012. For buying a visa in Australia, one has to invest at least $5 million over a period of four years. The visa allows applicants and their family members to travel in and out of Australia and run a new or established business and also allows visa-free travel to 174 countries. According to statistics, as many as 85% of Aussie golden visas have been taken by citizens of China.
India

India too offers such opportunities for wealthy investors. In 2016, Government of India allowed permanent residence status to foreign investors with an investment of $1,456,558 (Rs 10 crore) within 18 months or Rs 25 crore within 36 months. The permanent residence status initially is available for 10 years and then can be extended by another 10 years.


Spain

For Spain residency programme, you have to invest $583,375. But for citizenship, you have to wait for at least 10 years to apply for citizenship. For investors, the Spanish visa is valid for two years.