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Panama Immigration Changes

Panama Immigration Changes

By in Blog with 31 Comments

From Panama Guide:

Wow. Today Executive Order 343 of 16 May 2012 was published in the Official Gazette, “that creates within the immigration category of Permanent Resident, the sub-category of Permanent Resident in the form of foreign nationals from specific countries that maintain friendly, professional, economic, and investment relationships with the Republic of Panama.”

Executive Summary – Short Answer Up Front: The government of Panama has just created an entirely new immigration sub-category to make it easier for citizens from specific countries to obtain Permanent Residency status. Within this status newly qualified permanent residents will be able to exercise professional or economic activities – such as create a business or get a job. I suspect the “hand brake” will be the Ministry of Labor, so if they ever need to in the future they can either shut down or slow down the granting of work permits. But anyway, this is it. This is the big move I have been expecting for years. This is what the government of Panama has decided to do in order to ease their shortage of qualified workers. This move will allow the economy of Panama to keep growing. The text of the Executive Order is full of references to contributing to the growth of the Panamanian economy. Read on, kind folk, because it just got a whole lot easier to move to Panama, and to live here and work here as a Permanent Resident, if you’re carrying the right color of passport. (more)

What’s Going On? Article One of Executive Order says “To create within the immigration category of Permanent Resident, the sub-category of Permanent Resident in the category as foreign nationals from specific countries that maintain friendly, professional, economic, and investment relationships with the Republic of Panama.”

What Countries Are On The List? Article Two of Executive Order 343 provides a specific list of the countries covered;

 

  • Germany
  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Brazil
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Spain
  • United States
  • Slovakia
  • France
  • Finland
  • “The Low Countries”
  • Ireland
  • Japan
  • Norway
  • Czechoslovakia
  • Switzerland
  • Singapore
  • Uruguay
  • Chile
  • Sweden

How To Apply: Article 3 of Executive Order 343 tells foreigners how to apply for this category as a Permanent Resident. Specifically, “The foreigners who solicit this permission as foreign nationals from specific countries, that maintain friendly, professional, economic, and investment relationships with the Republic of Panama, who have as a goal of exercising economic or professional activities of any type, should comply with the requisites established in Article 28 of Decree Law 3 of 22 February 2008, and provide the following;

 

  • 1. Three passport sized photographs;
  • 2. Document that demonstrates the purpose of requiring the permanent residency, according to the professional or economic activity that will be realized;
  • 3. Proof of the economic solvency of the applicant, which will be demonstrated by providing the following;
    • a. A banking certificate or bank account statement from the past month that reflects an account balance of no less than four digits, or that demonstrates your income, that’s acceptable to the National Immigration Service;
  • 4. A copy of the identification card or residency card from your country.
  • 5. A letter of responsibility, if necessary;
  • 6. Documentation to verify kinship, if you have dependents.

Dependents and Family Members: Article 4 of Executive Order 343 describes the requirements for bringing your dependents and family members with you to Panama; “The applicant can include in their application as dependents their spouse, minor children under 18 years of age, family members with disabilities, and parents who are dependents. Adult children aged 18 to 25 can be applied for as dependents, as long as it can be proven that they are studying in a regular manner and that they are under the economic dependency of the applicant. The foreigner who proves to have the tutelage or guardianship or custody of a minor can apply for them as a dependent.

You Can Work, But You’ve Got To Stay Legal: Article 5 of Executive Order 343 gives a warning, saying “Those foreigners who wish to take advantage of this permission as a Permanent Resident in the category as foreign nationals from specific countries that maintain friendly, professional, economic, and investment relationships with the Republic of Panama must comply with all Panamanian legal norms and regulations in the areas of commercial, labor, or any other type, according to the professional or economic activity that will be realized.” In other words, whatever you’re going to do, you have to comply with all applicable Panamanian commercial and labor laws.

You’ve Got To Apply With Immigration: Article 6 of Executive Order 343 says “The applications for permission as Permanent Resident in the category as foreign nationals from specific countries that maintain friendly, professional, economic, and investment relationships with the Republic of Panama, can only be presented to the National Immigration Service.”

And That’s Pretty Much It: Here is a link to Executive Order 343 in it’s original Spanish, so you can read it for yourself if you like. I think this will pretty much do away with the need for people to be living in Panama as permanent tourists, and making those trips across the border every six months to reset your tourist status. It appears that Panama has used this mechanism to open up the doors to foreigners, to allow them to come here and live as documented Permanent Residents, as long as you’re from one of the countries on that list. Once you have your Permanent Residency status, then you can apply for a work permit from the Ministry of Labor, and get a job. Or, you can create your own business and hire a bunch of Panamanians. Anyway, this one is an important game changer (I think) – which is why I dropped everything to translate it at 8:30 pm. And remember, you heard it here first…

About The Author

Kent Davis, founder and Managing Director at Panama Equity real estate, has been widely quoted in publications such as Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, The Miami Herald and the Financial Times for his unabashed views on the Panama real estate market. Panama Equity is regarded as one of the most active real estate agencies in Panama and Kent’s articles, reports, and market research projects have been syndicated by press agencies including Bloomberg and the Associated Press.   Connect with the Author via: Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Google+

31 Comments

  1. elijah bradshaw says:

    Hi, can you please recommend an attorney who can help us with Executive Decree 343 Visa.

    Thanks,

  2. Gisele says:

    Hi! What are the minimum requirements (financial amount) to invest (bank account and/or business, PLUS legal fees, to realistically be approved for an unlimited visa? Thanks in advance!

  3. Nada says:

    Hi Kent,

    Would like also info about good lawyer or attornety in panama pls.

  4. Ralph says:

    Hello Kent,

    Can you pass on the name of your go to
    immigration lawyer?

    Many thanks

  5. james says:

    please i will like to know what its en take for my family to relocate from Nigeria to panama ?

    • Kent Davis says:

      Good morning James. Thanks for your inquiry regarding the immigration process of moving from Nigeria to Panama. You would actually be our first client from Nigeria! I’ve sent you a private message to your gmail account.

  6. Les Schee says:

    I am in the process of application with my Lawyer. Do you know of anyone being turned down yet and for what reason?

    • Kent Davis says:

      Hi Lee, all I know is that the Panama immigration process takes a long time and the key is to have a good lawyer who is EXCELLENT at following up and who has solid relationships with government contacts. If your lawyer isnt getting the job done, send me an email to Kent@panamaequity.com and I’ll put you in touch with our go-to immigration attorney in Panama.

  7. Patti Hanna says:

    Kent,
    Thank you for this very simple to understand information. I would also like the contact info of an attorney. I would be relocating from the US and would like to start a business in the tourist industry.

  8. William says:

    Could you refer me to a reputable attorney that could assist me? I live in South Carolina, USA
    Thanks

  9. Gene Gregory says:

    Hi Kent,
    Please sne dme a list of attorney’s as well. We spend a lot of time in Panama now. Is it a requirement to start a business as a condition of permanent residency? I don’t mind start a corp there, but just curious how this works.

    Gene Gregory

    • Kent Davis says:

      Hi Gene, check your email, I just responded.

      • Stan Medoff says:

        Hi Kent, thank you for the info. My first question is; Is this law in effect now, April, 2013? If so, I am an American citizen, living in Spain, planning to move to Panama soon. I am not retired, and would like to open a business and work. Can I get this process started here in Spain or do I need to get this started in Panama? Can a US embassy help me?
        Thanks, Stan

        • Kent Davis says:

          Good morning Stan. Thanks for reaching out! A good portion of the paperwork can be gathered and sent from outside of Panama, however you’ll need to be physically present in Panama to process the visa (although not necessarily residing here on a full time basis yet). As for opening a business, the new administration has really streamlined that process and made things easier (less complicated, but in Panama NEVER easy) for foreigners, not to mention some new visa options that are only available to entrepreneurs like yourself.

          I’ll send a separate message directly to you with suggestions on the next steps for the Panama immigration process.

  10. Vladimir says:

    Please also recommend decent attorney for me
    Thank you!

  11. sage says:

    Greetings,

    I am Pakistani citizen and my wife is American, and would like information on this please. We live in UAE right now and wanting to move to S.America.

    Thanks
    sage

    • Kent Davis says:

      Hi Sage,

      Thanks for the email and yes, i’ll be putting you in touch with Panama Relocation Attorneys who specialize in the type of information you’re looking for!

  12. Sylvester & Cynthia Carvalho says:

    Thank you very much, Kent. Do you know how we could start the process as we do maintain an account in Panama and own property in Panama. If you can direct us, we would appreciate it. Many thanks.

    Cynthia & Sylvester

    • Kent Davis says:

      Hi Guys,

      At this point, I think your best bet is to still use an attorney! There are some good ones out there and I’d be happy to point you in the right direction.

      • City says:

        Could you refer me to a reputable attorney that could assist me as an american? Thanks

      • Susan says:

        Hi Kent,
        My husband and I (Canadian) are interested in moving to Panama. Can you direct us to a good immigration lawyer – one that is fully up to date and familiar with this new law. Thank you
        Susan

      • mirela says:

        Hi Kent,
        I’ve seen your info you posted in 2012 regarding the immigration process.
        My husband and I are coming to Panama in january 2015 from Cnada.
        Can you recommend a good immigration lawyer to assist us
        Thanks

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