The residency process in Panama looks like it is taking a massive turn towards improvement for citizens of the United States, Canada, and those of several other countries. With tourism on the rise and the world starting to pay attention, Panama is becoming more attractive by the day.
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.”
Don Winner of Panama Guide speaks to expats at the Playacommunity Mixer
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.
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;
“The Low Countries”
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.
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