Technology and systemization is being implemented in many parts of our lives, and Panama’s immigration department is finally trying to catch up with their new online application system. They expect that this new system (Migración en Línea) will eliminate bottle-necks and long waits. Applicants may remember arriving at immigration at 5.00 a.m. to get a number for the queue. It will also allow their staff to work more on reviewing the paperwork rather than receiving the documents. Over time the immigration office will be adding to the breadth of applications which can be made online.
Immigration office press release:
In a press release on April 5, 2017, they advised that as of the 15th of April, 2017, it is no longer possible to register (for the first time as a foreigner in Panama) in person at the immigration department (even with a lawyer). Applicants must now complete the application online and submit the documentation electronically. The applicant pays at Immigration still, but it is anticipated that eventually they will move towards an electronic payment system. When rolling out the new system, the immigration office indicated that the steps to follow for registration were:
- complete online registration
- pay at the immigration office
- present the payment receipt at “certifications” and complete the document verification
- you will receive an email update of the status.
As might be expected with any new system, it has not worked perfectly these first few weeks. It has been our experience that we have to then take in the same paperwork that we submitted online, together with the reference number that the system provided us with, and have them complete the registration manually (in person) and not simply verify the documentation. However, we expect that these glitches will eventually be worked out, and then we will, no doubt, find glitches with the new services as they are rolled out. The immigration department is currently announcing (through Facebook & Twitter) that it will be possible to present visa and residency requests through the online system as of the 1st of June, 2017.
This new system already permits the following to be done online:
- status of naturalization applications (only while in the immigration department, not once passed to the Ministry of Government)
- status of visa and authorized visa applications
We will continue to provide updates regarding this system, until it is fully implemented and working smoothly.
For more information, please contact Joan Villanueva.