Panama Friendly Nations Visa
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Update August 2021: The Panama Friendly Nations Visa is closed as of August 1, 2021. An alternative is the $300,000 investment program. For more info go here.
Overview of Panama Friendly Nations Visa
If you’ve always wanted to retire in Panama or if you’re thinking of moving to Panama, now is a great time to turn those thoughts into action. Panama is considered by many to be the easiest country to get permanent residency. Panama immigration laws allow citizens of many countries deemed 'friendly', including the United States, Canada and most of the Eurozone countries, to apply for a Panama Visa and acquire permanent residency.
The law, known as Executive Directive 343 and established in 2012, gives qualified foreigners from these countries and their eligible dependents the fast track to permanent legal residency (and an immediate official identity card). The visa is limited to those who can demonstrate 'professional and economic' ties with Panama. This generally means starting a new business, buying an existing business, or being hired as a professional by a Panama company.
Restrictions include that a foreigner may not own a retail business in Panama nor work as an architect, attorney, engineer, medical doctor or veterinarian. An applicant must show economic solvency, a criterion that can be met by depositing US$5,000 (plus US$2,000 for each dependent) into a Panama bank, or in the case of a professional, showing proof of income from the employer.
Table of Contents:
- Overview of Panama Friendly Nations Visa
- Applying for Panama's Friendly Nations Visa
- How to get a Panama Friendly Nations Visa?
- Panama Friendly Nations Visa General Rules
- Panama Friendly Nations Visa Documents
- Documents Required From Home
- Documents To Be Obtained In Panama
- List of Countries in the Panama Friendly Nations Visa Program
Upon receiving the application and required documentation, Panama’s immigration office generally issues a one-year temporary residency card. Upon approval, the office issues a permanent residency card. After five years permanent residents may apply for full citizenship. Application requirements include a Panama-approved notarized authorization for a Panama attorney to act on the applicant’s behalf, a criminal background check (usually an FBI background check in the case of U.S. citizens), and a copy of the applicant’s passport, to name a few.
Supporting documents of economic activity may include those showing the applicant is the owner, majority shareholder or board member of a Panama corporation. For a new company, supporting documents may show proof of a franchise tax having been paid and the company’s commercial license.
If the corporation or company has been around for a year, supporting documentation may include proof of its tax return and a copy of its 'paz y salvo' (in good standing) certificate. Further proof can include bank accounts and other documentation showing real property or activity that generates income.
Supporting documentation for professional activity generally includes an employment contract with a Panama company registered by the country’s Social Security office, along with a social security card and work permit. Panama has established an expedited approval process for work permits given to citizens of countries deemed friendly.
How to get It?
This visa is designed for individuals who own offshore companies in Panama or have economic or professional ties to the country and desire to become permanent residents.
Presidential Decree 343, issued in 2012, initiated a fast-track process that allowed citizens of 22 friendly nations could take advantage of this process. As of 2020 the number of friendly nations has been expanded to 50.
See below for a complete List of Countries included in the Panama Friendly Nations Visa program.
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In order to apply for a permanent residency visa:
- The applicant must have either economic or professional ties with the Republic of Panama.
- The applicant must show proof of financial solvency.
- The applicant must provide the required supporting documentation.
- The applicant's spouse and children under 25 can qualify as dependents is certain conditions are met.
Once an application along with all of the supporting documentation has been filed and has been accepted by the immigration authorities, a temporary residency card valid for up to one year will be issued. This temporary residency card or carnet will be replaced with a permanent residency card once the application has been approved.
- The requirement for having established economic ties is generally satisfied if the applicant owns a company or corporation which is doing business in Panama and is either a member of the Board of Directors or a majority shareholder.
- The requirement for establishing professional ties is generally satisfied if the applicant can provide proof of employment by a Panamanian company or corporation and holds a work permit and a social security card.
- The requirement to prove financial solvency can normally be satisfied by depositing a minimum of $5,000 USD in a Panamanian bank account
- An additional $2,000 USD must be deposited for each dependent to be granted residency.
- If the applicant owns a company or corporation in Panama, the franchise tax must have been paid for a company or corporation, if it is new.
- If the company is over one year old, it will be necessary to show proof its taxes have been paid or produce a certificate of good standing (paz y salvo).
- For dependents to qualify for permanent residency, the applicant must present, in writing, a statement of responsibility of the dependents together with supporting documentation.
- Children over the age of 18 must show proof of being single, and children between the ages of 18 and 25 must show proof of being full-time university students or of being disabled.
Documents Required from Home
- Copies of the passport(s) of the applicant and dependents that have been notarized by a Panamanian notary.
- 3 passport-size photos.
- A copy of the applicant's driver's license or a government-issued photo-I. D. that has been authenticated by a Panamanian consulate or Apostilled.
- A criminal history report that goes back at least two years and has been authenticated by the appropriate federal or governmental agencies in the country of which the applicant and by the Panamanian Consul in that country or by an Apostille.
- Proof of legal residency if the applicant is not a citizen but is a resident of a friendly nation.
- Documentation indicating the applicant is a member of the Board of Directors or is a majority shareholder in a Panama company or corporations (when the application is based upon economic ties).
*All documents must be authenticated by a Notary and by the nearest Panamanian Consulate, or by a Notary and the Apostille. The Apostille (The Hague Convention of 1961) is a faster way of authenticating documents and is normally obtained through the Secretary of State Department in your home state (in the USA) or through the Foreign Office (in UK and Canada).
*Birth and/or marriage certificates that prove the relationship between dependents and the applicant are required.
Documents to be Obtained in Panama
We will assist you with documentation to be obtained in Panama, such as applications, Power of Attorney and health certificates.
- A Special Power of Attorney authorizing a Panamanian attorney to act on behalf of the applicant. The attorney selected must be notarized as being duly authenticated to perform this duty.
- Employer's proof of the applicant's earnings (when the application is based upon professional ties).
- If the applicant has been residing in Panama for at least the past two years and has not left the country during that time, a criminal history report by the national police must accompany the application.
- A Personal Sworn Affidavit explaining the purpose for seeking permanent residency and attesting to the applicant's ability to provide for family and dependents. The form for this affidavit is provided by an attorney representing the Panama Offshore Legal Service.
- The original medical examination report as issued by a Panamanian doctor must accompany the application.
Two certified checks must accompany the application. One check, in the amount of $250 USD and made out to the National Treasury, covers the immigration fee. A second check, in the amount of $800 USD is made out to Immigration for repatriation purposes.
These checks are non-refundable once the determination as to whether the application for residence has been either approved or denied.
List of Countries in the Program
Citizens of these 50 countries can take advantage of this visa:
- Great Britain
- Republic of Korea
- Czech Republic
- South Africa
- New Zealand
- Hong Kong
- San Marino
- Costa Rica
- South Korea
(Note that Italy is not on the list because since 1966 it has had a bilateral immigration treaty with Panama which allows citizens of both countries to become residents in each others’ countries with fewer requirements than even this visa).
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