Panama Friendly Nations Visa
In 2012 President Ricardo Martinelli issued several Presidential Decrees creating a new class of foreigners able to qualify for permanent residency. This is known as the Panamanian “Friendly Nations” Visa, which currently include 47 countries. Including the United States of America.
Panama’s friendly nations are countries in friendly economic and professional ties to Panama.
Understanding the Requirements
President Martinelli specifically used the words “professional and economic ties” with Panama in his first decree.
These words have been interpreted to mean either starting a new business, purchasing an existing business, or being hired in a professional capacity by a Panamanian company.
If hired as a professional by a Panamanian company, the decree orders the Ministry of Labor to fast track the issuance of a work permit. In addition, the foreign professional must be registered with Panama’s Social Security Administration. The employer will need to provide an employment contract or a letter explaining the professional capacity the foreigner is hired for. Certain professions are restricted only for Panama citizens such as architects, attorneys, engineers, and medical & veterinary doctors.
Economic Solvency is another requirement that only requires depositing $5,000 USD (and $2,000 USD for every dependent) in a Panamanian bank account. Panama immigration has the discretion to determine whether the foreigner is sufficiently solvent to live in Panama and to care for the family.
The dependents include the spouse and children up to 18 years of age or 25 if they are full time students. The foreigner must write a letter of responsibility for the dependents. Dependent children over 18 years old must provide with a certificate confirming that they are single.
Once the application and all required documents are filed, immigration officials will issue temporary residency cards valid for one year to each family member. Then, a permanent residency card will be issued.
The foreigner can apply for the work permit with the Ministry of Labor.
Applying for Panama Immigration Permanent Residency
Documents required when applying for the Friendly Nations Visa:
1. Three Passport Size Photos;
2. A written letter stating the types of professional or economic activities you will conduct in Panama. Here are the 2 activities Panama immigration is looking for:
(a) Professional: Working for a Panama company in a professional capacity. Note some professions are restricted only for Panama citizens such as engineers, architects, attorneys, and veterinarian & medical doctors. You will need to provide a copy of the employment contract, proof that the Panamanian Company is registered with Panama Social Security Administration, and that you have obtained a social security card.
(b) Economic Reasons as an investor: Provide documents that you are either a Board of Directors member or a major shareholder in a Panamanian Corporation (Sociedad Anonima) or you own a Panama company. If the Panama Company or Panama Corporation is new, submit proof that its incorporation tax has been paid along with a copy of its business (commercial) license. If the company is over one year old, submit a copy of its tax return along with its business license or certificate of good standing. In addition, submit copies of Panama bank accounts in the company or corporation’s name along with proof of any income producing real estate owned by the company or corporation and any other income producing activities in Panama.
3. Economic Solvency: You must submit proof that you are economically solvent by:
(a) Proving that you at least $5,000 USD deposited in a Panamanian bank account plus $2,000 USD for every dependent.
(b) Employment verification letter including salary. Include a copy of your Panama social security ID card.
Note: Accepting that you earn sufficient income to support yourself and your family is discretionary by the Panama immigration officials.
4. Copy of Your ID’s: A copy of your driver’s license, or your country’s government issued photo I.D. card. A copy of your passport is also required to prove residency from a ‘friendly nations’. Copies must be authenticated or Apostilled in the Panama consulate in the ‘friendly nation’.
5. Dependents: You must submit a Letter of Responsibility for your dependents.
(a) Submit proof that your dependents are relatives provide a copy of their birth certificates or for your spouse a copy of the marriage certificate. Copies must be authenticated or Apostilled in the Panama consulate in the ‘friendly nation’.
(b) Dependents (not your spouse) can apply up until 25 years of age if they are enrolled as full time students.
(c) Dependents over 18 years of age must provide a notarized affidavit that they are single. Copies must be authenticated or Apostilled in the Panama consulate in the ‘friendly nation’.
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