Editor’s note: Visit this link to read about changes made to the Panama Friendly Nations Visa, applicable as of August 2021.
Panama, a small Central American country is commonly known for its very attractive offshore tax regime and the Panama Canal, however in addition to this the country offers a wide array of cultural activities and beautiful scenery. In recent times, Panama has become a popular location for various commercial opportunities to explore.
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Panama’s Friendly Nations Visa – Panamanian residency
There are a number of visa options for Panama but the Friendly Nations visa is considered to be one of the most attractive and easiest to obtain. In 2012, President Ricardo Martinelli issued a Presidential Decree declaring that citizens of 22 friendly nations could apply to become permanent residents in a fast tracked manner. This “fast tracked” visa is known as Panama’s friendly nations visa. The formal wording for this visa is for “citizens of friendly nations with professional and economic ties with the Republic of Panama”.
Countries included in the Friendly Nations Visa
Since then the number of friendly nations has increased to the following 50 countries:
Great Britain, Germany, Argentina, Australia, Republic of Korea, Austria, Brazil, Belgium, Canada, Spain, USA, Slovakia, France, Finland, Netherlands, Ireland, Japan, Norway, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Singapore, Uruguay, Chile, Sweden, Poland, Hungary, Greece, Portugal, Croatia, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Cyprus, Malta, Serbia, Montenegro, Israel, Denmark, South Africa, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Andorra, San Marino, Taiwan, Costa Rica, Mexico and Paraguay.
The citizens of the friendly nations must establish professional and/or economic relationship with Panama. This can be done by starting a new business or being hired to work for a Panama company.
Professional activity means that the applicant is employed by a professional Panama company, has a work permit and is registered with Panama´s social security system. Additionally, proof of income by the employer must be provided. The other, economic activity, means the applicant owns corporation in Panama.
Another requirement is proof of economic solvency. This means that one must have at least USD$5,000 deposited in a Panama bank account. The spouse and children up to 25 (if they are full university students) are accounted for as dependants. The applicant must also provide a written letter of responsibility regarding each dependant.
After all the required documents are filed, the immigration office will issue a one-year temporary residency card, which will later be replaced by a permanent residency card once the application is approved. Next step is to apply for a work permit. Panama’s president recently issued a Presidential Decree ordering Panama’s Ministry of Labour to fast track acceptance of work permits for the 50 friendly nation citizens.
Current required documents
Law 3 of 2008 vide Article 28 requires the following documents be provided from the applicant:
- Application for Permanent Panama Residency with a Special Power of Attorney.
- Criminal history background check.
- Copy of the entire passport notarized by a Panama Notary.
- Medical examination report from a Panama medical doctor (original).
- Personal Sworn Affidavit.
Additionally, the following documents are also required due to the recent Presidential decrees:
- 3 x Passport Size Photos.
- A written Statement describing the economic and/or professional activities to be conducted by the applicant.
- Proof of Solvency.
- Copy of Applicant’s Identification
- For all dependants, there is a requirement for a letter of responsibility from the primary applicant.
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If you found this article on getting a Qualified Investor Visa in Panama of interest, you might want to check out the rest of our coverage of this prosperous Central American market. Or read about our team and expert authors.