Panama: Immigration Legislation

Last Updated: 15 May 2017
Article by Carlos Molino

In order to obtain your immigration visa, below are some step-by-step instructions intended to help guide you through the process.

First of all we need to register the passport at the National Direction of Migration before and filling the visa application. This process is known in Spanish as "filiación" (basically – signing up). We always sent our assistant with our clients to the Immigration Department to do this. This can be done in about 2 hours as long as the client arrives early in the morning.

Documents required, for the registration:

Original Passport

Copy of the front page of the passport (the page that has the photo, general details, and signature)

Fill in the immigration form (we will assist with this)

Two (2) passport sized photos.

Types of Visa:

MACRO BUSINESS INVESTOR VISA:

Who can apply for this visa?

All the persons who could do an investment on a Panamanian company of a minimum amount of US$160.000.00 and the petitioner should be director and shareholder of the company. If the petitioner does no fulfill this requirement, the visa will be cancelled.

The company should have a payroll of 5 Panamanian employees per each petitioner, working full time and the salary can't be under the minimum salary established by law.

The company and all the workers should be registered in the Social Security.

Dependant allowed?

Yes, only husband, wife or children under 18 years or 25 if they are students. For each dependant should demonstrate a solvency of and additional sum of $2.000.00

This visa will give you a temporary residence for 2 years and after you can apply for the permanent residence. After 5 years with the permanent residence, nationality can be applied.

VISA TO RETIREMENT PENSION APPLICANTS

Who can apply for this visa?

This visa may be requested by foreigners who receive a retirement pension from the foreign government, international organization or private company, who come to Panama with a view to residing here and have sufficient means to cover all their expenses, as well as those of their dependents.

The monthly income or pension can be no less than One Thousand Dollars (US$1,000.00) per month and must be "for life". Where the applicant can prove that they have purchased a property in their personal name in Panama for at least One Hundred Thousand Dollars (US$100,000.00), then the pension may be for Seven Hundred and Fifty Dollars (US$750.00).

This visa will give you, immediately, the permanent residence. After 5 years with the permanent residence, nationality can be applied.

Dependant allowed?

Yes, only husband, wife or children under 18 years or up to 25 only if are students. For each dependant should demonstrate a solvency of and additional sum of $250.00

OWN ECONOMY SOLVENCE

Who can apply for this visa?

Foreigners doing a minimum investment of US $ 300,000.00. Migration admits some of the following options how the possession of the U$300,000.00 can be proved:

Please note that there are 3 variations in this visa:

US$300,000 in a time deposit in a local bank in Panama for 3 years.

US$300,000 in a real estate property in Panama.

Part of the US$300,000.00 in a property in Panama in the name of the applicant PLUS the rest in a time deposit in a local bank in Panama.

The term deposit and the title of the property must be a in the name of the petitioner, can't be in the name of corporations, foundations, relatives, nor organizations. Only it is admitted that the property or the term deposit be in the name of a Panamanian Foundation of Private Interest any time it is demonstrated that the foreigner is the founder and he or his dependents are the beneficiaries. The certificate of Public Record will have to show the designation of the founder and of the beneficiary.

Is Financing admitted?

If the foreigner buys a property for a sum over US$300,000.00, he should demonstrate that he paid $300,000.00 and the balance can be finance with a mortgage with a local bank.

Dependents allowed? Yes. Only wife/husband, parents and children not older than 18 years are considered as dependent. It is not needed that the dependent proves directly his economic solvency. The principal petitioner must demonstrate an additional solvency of US$2,000.00 for each dependent.

This visa will give you a temporary residence for 2 years and after you can apply for the permanent residence. After 5 years with the permanent residence, nationality can be applied.

FORESTAL INVESTOR VISA

Who can apply for this visa?

People who could do an investment on personal name or in the name of a corporation duly authorized by the National Authority of the Environment in Panama of at least (20) hectares with a minimum investment of (US$80,000.00).

Dependant allowed?

Yes, only husband, wife or children under 18 years or 25 if they are students. For each dependant should demonstrate a solvency of and additional sum of US$2.000.00

This visa will give you a temporary residence for 2 years and after you can apply for the permanent residence. After 5 years with the permanent residence, nationality can be applied.

PERMANENT RESIDENCE FOR ITALIANS

Every Italian has the opportunity to ask for the Panamanian residence. The fundamental requirements are:

Italian Passport.

Own economy solvency.

Free Criminal Record.

Dependant allowed?

Yes, only husband, wife or children under 18 years or 25 if they are students.

This visa will give you, immediately, the permanent residence. After 5 years with the permanent residence, nationality can be applied.

RESIDENCE PERMIT FOR WORKERS IN THE 10%

For this visa can apply the foreigners that will work in a Panamanian company.

One of the fundamental requirements that must have the company in order to contract a foreigner is that they must have the 10% that the Law requires. This 10% means that for a company to contract a foreigners they must have 10 Panamanians workers first.

Dependant allowed?

Yes, only husband, wife or children under 18 years or 25 if are students.

Work permit mandatory: YES

This visa will give you a temporary residence for 2 years and after you can apply for the permanent residence. After 5 years with the permanent residence, nationality can be applied.

VISA FOR SPECIAL TEMPORARY VISITOR:

This Visa is granted only to foreigners that come to Panama on a temporary basis as Executives or Representatives of Foreign Companies, with positions in the Directive-Operative Level, with affiliate offices in Panama, whose Main Office is located outside Panama and makes only "off shore" operations (operations that take effect only outside Panama). The whole salary of the applicant must come from abroad.

This visa will give you a temporary residence for 1 year, and can be renewed up to 7 times.

RESIDENCE PERMIT FOR WORKERS IN THE MARRAKESH

For this visa can apply the foreigners that will work in a Panamanian company.

One of the fundamental requirements that must have the company in order to contract a foreigner is that they must have the 3 Panamanians working in the company and you can hire 1 foreigner.

Dependant allowed?

Yes, only husband, wife or children under 18 years or 25 if they are students.

Work permit mandatory

This visa will give you a temporary residence for 1 year, and can be renewed up to 7 times.

RETIREE VISA

Who can apply for this visa?

Will be able to ask for this permission who is retired of the active life and that exclusively yields a minimum rent of the thousand balboas (B/.850,00) monthly originating of interests on term fixed deposit in the National Bank of Panama or the Savings bank (Banco Nacional de Panamá o Caja de Ahorros), free of liens or guarantees of any nature, that will be by a minimum period of five (5) years. The retirement of fixed term at any time spent first the five (5) years will cause the lost of the rights that the Law grants.

Dependant allowed?

Yes, only husband, wife or children under 18 years or 25 if they are students. For each dependant should demonstrate a solvency of and additional sum of $2.000.00

This visa will give you a temporary residence for 5 year, and can be renewed every year for 5 years. This Visa will grant you a special Panamanian passport.

FRIENDLY COUNTRIES VISA

Who can apply for this visa?

This visa may be requested by foreigners with nationalities of one of the following countries:

United Kingdom of Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Republic of Germany; Republic of Argentina, Commonwealth of Australia, South Korea, Republic of Austria, Federal Republic of Brazil, Kingdom of Belgium, Canada, Kingdom of Spain; United States of America; Republic of Slovak, Republic of French, Republic of Finland, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Republic of Ireland, State of Japan; Kingdom of Norway, Czech Republic, Swiss Confederation, Republic of Singapore; Oriental Republic of Uruguay, Republic of Chile, Kingdom of Sweden, Republic of Poland, Hungary, Hellenic Republic (Greece), Portuguese Republic, Republic of Croatia, Republic of Estonia, Republic of Lithuania, Latvia, Republic of Cyprus, Republic of Malta, Republic of Serbia, Republic of Montenegro, State of Israel, Kingdom of Denmark, Republic of South Africa, New Zealand, Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong, Luxembourg, Principality of Liechtenstein; Principality of Monaco, Principality of Andorra; Marino Most Serene Republic, Rep. of Taiwan and Mexico.

This visa will give you, immediately, the permanent residence. After 5 years with the permanent residence, nationality can be applied.

SEM VISA

This visa is granted for foreigners that work in companies that have a SEM license.

Dependant allowed?

Yes, only husband, wife or children under 18 years or 25 if they are students.

This visa will give you a temporary residence for 5 year or the length of the contract. After 5 years the foreigner can apply for the permanent residence.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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