Immigration Update: June 2017

Of particular note, in this immigration update is that the Friendly Nations visa is available to immigrants from Europe, North America and other countries listed.  There have been no major changes in the requirements for work permits under Friendly Nations. We have been hearing a lot in the news regarding the change to 90 tourist permits for citizens of Venezuela, Colombia & Nicaragua,  but the updates at immigration  do not affect European or North American citizens.

In recent years, Panama has been  careful with immigration policies, to not be seen as favoring or discriminating against a particular nationality. Nevertheless, the current climate in the region is pushing a wave of immigrants into Panama. And there has been a “push back” against this wave.  Panama is not, obviously, the only country where refugees and illegal immigrants are being rejected. Many European nations have made it clear that they are not willing to welcome many newcomers, despite obvious crises pushing the waves of refugees and immigrants to seek safe havens.

Work Permits:

Immigration Update : Work permit in Panama

How to apply

The work permit tied to the Friendly Nations visa is very simple to apply for.  After applying for immigration status, it is necessary to apply separately to the Ministry of Labour for this permit.  The requirements to be met at the Ministry of Labour are:

  • Power of attorney (to the lawyer) and application
  • Certified copy of the immigration resolution, granting residency
  • Immigration Status certification
  • Certified copy of the immigration card – Permanent residency
  • 4 passport photos

Joan Villanueva is available for more information regarding this application process.

Back in 2016 and in early 2017, there was a lot of debate on the issue of work permits. Panamanians complained that too many work permits being granted to foreigners under the friendly nations visa program.  The complaints were based on the fact that Friendly Nations work permits appeared to bypass the rules on 10% rules (no more than 10% of employees in a company should be foreigners) or 15% for certain professions or executives.  See, for example:

However, this has not be put into effect so far.