The Easiest country to buy citizenship through investment is Vanuatu and to some extend caribbean countries. This is because Vanuatu has the easiest application process and fastest processing times (less than 1 month). One other advantage here is due to ongoing pandemic, these countries require no in-person trips to collect the passport, can be done at nearest embassies abroad.
All countries that run citizenship by investment screen applicants for criminal record and other red flags. There is No exception whatsoever. For example if you have a felony that shows up in criminal record or you have a denial of schengen or UK visa, you wont be able to apply for passport programs.
In general, you should expect the CBI costs exceed $100,000 which is the bare minimum. Take for example with Vanuatu, you should get $135,500 for Vanuatu for a single applicant quote and for St Lucia $109,500 plus agent fee. If you analyze the net costs Dominica and St Lucia can be the cheapest for one person application and Antigua for families. You can include siblings or son or daughter in a single application, but watch out for the age, it should not exceed 30 years for dependants.
Nationals of certain blacklisted countries also cannot apply for investment citizenship programs (eg. Iran, North Korea, Sudan, etc). Exceptions are those who have lived abroad as permanent residents for more than 10 years.
The paperwork involved in collecting documentation, is also complicated for Caribbean countries (St Kitts, St Lucia, Dominica etc) and the whole application processing takes between 2-3 months. The passport issue takes another 2 weeks.
EU investor citizenship programs with Malta, Bulgarian are the most difficult ones. These are not the easiest countries (probably hardest) to apply. These countries have strictest checks and high refusal rates. Getting a citizenship drags more than 1 year with one or two personal trips.
To apply for these programs, you DO NOT have to make the whole investment. All payments are done in steps spread over 3-6 months. You will complete the investment only after the government approves your application.
- Pay the licensed agent 10% of investment.
- Prepare your police certificate and other initial documents.
- Agent will file your application to CBI unit.
- Receive CIU approval letter 3 months.
- Complete the full investment.
- Apply for passport presenting your original birth certificate.
- Collect your passport at nearest embassy or agent will hand over to you.
Sometimes it can be cheaper for you if you apply as main applicant (one person). Later you can add your family members (spouse and children) as a post citizenship addition.
If you have ambitions to settle in the US, at the same time applying for another citizenship, take a look at Grenada passport with E-2 visa option. It could be pretty interesting for you.
Montenegro is another interesting country. This country could be the future EU country say in five years. If you invest in a Montenegro passport now, you could be investing in a future EU citizenship and passport. Sadly the Montenegro CIP will be shut down from Jan 2022.
Acquiring a second passport is just first step. You should know how to use a secondary passport to cross borders.
If you are not interested in citizenship, only residency, take a look at Golden visa programs (eg. Portugal, Grence). These schemes are extremely popular among investors from all over the world.