panama-1524521_1280If you’ve ever wanted to live in Panama, now is your chance. Since 2012, the Panama’s immigration policies have become more hospitable for foreigners looking to work and make a life for themselves and their families in Panama. The more lenient immigration policies will bring in many soon-to-be Panama citizens, which will be great for the local economy. Panama’s “Friendly Nations” Visa program allows for expedited processing of immigrants coming to Panama to start companies, purchase existing Panama companies or get hired by a Panama company.

The goal of the “Friendly Nations” Visa program is to attract immigrants who will make great citizens who will financially contribute to the Panamanian economy in the form of taxes, making purchases and building up the local business workforce. Under the “Friendly Nations” Visa program, these immigrants will be able to qualify for permanent Panama residency and thus full Panama citizenship along with a work permit. Panama’s work visa program currently has a partnership with 47 countries which are friendly to Panama and have both professional and economic ties with Panama. These countries are listed below:

  • Andorra
  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hong Kong
  • Hungry
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Monaco
  • Marino
  • Montenegro
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Serbia
  • Singapore
  • Slovakia
  • Spain
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • United States of America
  • Uruguay
  • United Kingdom

What Are the Requirements?

As mentioned earlier, the “Friendly Nations” Visa program is only for immigrants who will be part of the workforce and contribute to Panama’s economy and their families.

Immigrants who land a full-time job at a Panamanian company will have the issuance of their work permits expedited so they can begin working earlier. If you fall into this category, your employer needs to provide a copy of your employment contract and you, yourself need to get registered at the Panama Social Security office. It should be noted that some professions such as medical doctors, veterinarians, lawyers, engineers and architects are only reserved for Panama citizens and are therefore, not available to immigrants in the “Friendly Nations” program.

An important component under Panama’s work visa program is the evidence that the immigrant, once they are granted a work permit, will be able to adequately provide for himself/herself and his/her family financially. With that being said, each immigrant applying for the visa program is required to make a deposit of $5,000 with an extra $2,000 for each dependent into a Panama bank account. The expected wages will help the Panama immigration authorities determine if the immigrant is adequately financially solvent to live in Panama. You must prove that you made the $5,000 deposit when you submit your visa application and you also must submit a copy of your offer letter stating your income and a copy of your Panama social security card.

Under Panama’s work visa program, a dependent is anyone under the age of 18 or anyone under 25 if they are a full-time student.

Once the application and all required documents are filed, immigration officials will issue temporary residency cards valid for one year to the family. Once the primary applicant is approved, a permanent residency card will be issued.

How to Apply for Panama Immigration Permanent Residency

If you want to apply for the Panama “Friendly Nation” Visa program, you must submit an application trough a Panamanian lawyer or law firm and the required paperwork to Panama immigration. In addition to these documents, you’ll also need the following:

    1. Three passport-size photos.
    2. A written letter describing the immigrant’s profession and its duties as well as what his or hers economic activities will be while in Panama. Panama immigration officials are especially looking for:
      • Professional: Proof that he or she is working for a Panama company in a professional capacity.
      • Economic: The individual must provide documents that he or she is either a Board of Directors member or a major shareholder in a Panama Corporation or he or she own a Panama company.
    3. Copy of driver’s license, country’s government photo I.D. and a copy of your passport.
    4. A letter of responsibility for their dependents. Also include a copy of each dependents’ birth certificates, and marriage certificate.

The Panama “Friendly Nations” Visa program opens up many doors for many immigrants and their families to get a fresh and better start. Without immigrants, Panama would not be as diverse and successful as it is. At Mata & Pitti Attorneys at Law located in Panama, we support the country’s economic development as well as the financial stability and independence of each immigrant and citizen. We specialize in offshore corporations and start-ups. Contact us today to learn how we can help you achieve that dream of being a business owner.