Mr. Rigoberto Coronado
Associate | firstname.lastname@example.org
Born in Coclé, Republic of Panama, 31st August 1974. Education: University of Panama, School of Law (LL.B., 2001). Staff member since 1997. Member: Panama Bar Association. Languages: Spanish and English.
The Government of Panama recently created a new immigration subcategory by means of an Executive Decree that allows the nationals of countries included on a closed list to obtain permanent residence in Panama.
In accordance with the current immigration legislation, foreigners may apply for a certain number of immigration permits allowing them to stay in Panama, whether temporarily or permanently, depending in each case on the situation and conditions on which the permit is based, whether in relation to studies, investment, work or special regulations, among others.
In this instance, Panamanian authorities have decided to offer an incentive to nationals coming from countries that, according to the Decree passed last 21st May of this year, have “friendly, professional, economic and investment relations” with the Republic of Panama.
The countries that have specifically been included in this Decree are: Germany, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Belgium, Canada, Spain, United States, Slovak Republic, France, Finland, Netherlands, Ireland, Japan, Norway, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Singapore, Uruguay, Chile and Sweden.
It is important to note that the benefit of the permanent residence referred to may be extended to spouses, children under the age of 18, relatives with disabilities, and any minor under their custody, care or guardianship, as well as parents who are dependents of the principal submitting the application. Likewise, the Decree envisages the possibility of children over the age of 18 but under 25 who can show that they are full time students and dependent financially on the applicant being included as beneficiaries of said residence.
However, foreigners opting for this kind of residence must clearly understand that they shall be subject to all general legal and statutory laws, with special consideration for laws regulating business, professional and labor issues, as for example, not engaging in retail business, as this is reserved exclusively to Panamanian citizens, obtaining a work permit if they are to work within the national territory, or not practicing any professions requiring qualification that may be granted only to Panamanian citizens, among others.
In accordance with this new Decree, this kind of application must be submitted to the National Immigration Service. Among the main requirements to be met is that of submitting documents evidencing the intent to request permanent residence according to the economic or professional activity to be carried out. As well, the applicant’s financial solvency needs to be evidenced by means of a bank certification or bank statement of the last month reflecting a balance not less than four medium figures, which in Panama would be approximately US$5,000.00. Other evidence that in the National Immigration Service’s view is sufficient for ascertaining that the applicant has enough funds for his or his dependents’ subsistence may also be acceptable. There are other requirements that can be sent to any interested parties upon request.
This sort of permanent residence, contrary to other existing forms, offers the nationals of the countries listed to gain immigration stability in Panama without need for large investments in time deposit accounts, the acquisition of real estate or the installation of operating companies, for example, and thus constitutes an attractive valid option for anyone seeking a second residence. This kind of permanent residence should not be interpreted as the granting of Panamanian nationality, but it could be a first step towards citizenship, provided that all other requirements for citizenship are complied with.
As in the case of other kinds of residence, the applicant and his dependents, if any, are not required to stay in the country while the administrative formalities are being processed, but their presence in Panama at certain times will be required. As well, they will need to request certain permits before authorization for permanent residence is granted. It should be pointed out that if the foreigner granted such residence leaves Panamanian territory for over two years, this shall constitute just cause for loss of this permanent residence, unless such absence is justified and authorized by the National Immigration Service.
In cases where a foreigner has submitted an application for residence under a category or subcategory other than the residence referred to herein, he shall need to follow the steps required by the National Immigration Service for the respective change. The NIS is currently implementing this new Decree.
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