Panama has long had “open door” immigration policies that welcome foreigners. For instance, it has the best program of special benefits for foreign retirees and their families you’ll find anywhere in the world today—the pensionado, or pensioner, visa.
But for non-pensioners, most of Panama’s other residency programs required substantial investments…until now.
The new “Immediate Permanent Resident” Visa aims to do exactly what it says, giving you immediate, permanent residency in Panama…and at a lower cost than you may have thought possible.
Drafted into law via Decree 343 in May 2012, it applies to qualified foreigners from 22 listed countries that “maintain friendly, professional, economic, and investment relationships with the Republic of Panama.” The list includes the U.S., the U.K., Canada and Australia.
Government sources say this visa will require only one easy application, with candidates required to deposit a minimum of $5,000 in a local bank account, plus an additional sum of $2,000 for each dependent. Applicants will also have to show evidence of one of the following: investment in real estate in Panama, ownership of a Panamanian corporation with a business license, or an employment letter and contract from a business in Panama. Other basic requirements include having a clean police record and a valid passport.
Once an application is approved, the applicant and any dependents are entitled to permanent residency and a national identification card, or cédula, and can then apply for a work permit if desired. Though few foreign residents in Panama pursue citizenship, applicants will be allowed to pursue naturalization (unlike pensioner visa residents in Panama, who do not have this option).
Keep in mind that this decree is still very new, and immigration experts are still not sure how certain parts of it will be implemented.
This new visa program only adds to Panama’s attractions.
International Living has been a leader in explaining Panama’s many pluses—and the overall value is hard to beat. To begin with, Panama’s financial environment is very attractive to foreigners, especially in today’s financial climate. For decades the country has had investor and asset protection-friendly laws governing banking, corporations, trusts, and private-interest foundations.
Editor’s note: Bob’s full article on this new Panama visa is only available to subscribers of International Living magazine.