It is relatively easy to gain residency in Panama but nearly impossible to gain citizenship.
However, except for the right to vote and hold office, foreigners who gain residency in Panama have nearly all the same rights and privileges as native born Panamanians.
Over the years Panama has modified its residency requirements making the process more expensive but not prohibitive.
By law you used to need to use a Panamanian lawyer for the paperwork.
In the last year Panama as started “immigration fairs” which give foreigners a streamlined approach to getting a ten year visa and a work permit.
This approach does not, however, lead to a cedula and permanent residency in Panama.
NOTE: Under current law to gain residency in Panama the law requires that a lawyer do the paperwork.
If you need a referral to a competent immigration lawyer in Panama feel free to contact us at www.RobertGirga.com.
This review of immigration and visa requirements in Panama is for general information only.
Be sure to contact a competent attorney for the most recent changes in Panama immigration law.
If you already have a visa or started the process prior to any changes in the law you are likely going to proceed under the old law but be sure to ask you attorney.
Basic Routes to Panama Residency
Retirees commonly look to get a pensionado visa and residency in Panama.
This requires that your social security check or other pension come to at least $1,000 a month, and more for each dependent.
You can also make investments in business or property in Panama to gain residency.
And, you can marry a Panamanian citizen or other legal resident of Panama and gain residency as a dependent, even though you may be the one who pays the bills.
Visas for Pensioners
Panama has had “jubilado” or pensioner visas for years.
You will need to demonstrate a social security payment or private pension of $1,000 a month or more plus an extra $250 a month for each dependent.
These numbers may change over time.
You will need to produce a letter from the social security administration or your private pension to verify your benefits.
Commonly you will want this document notarized and apostillized in order to be valid for presentation to immigration in Panama.
Ask your attorney about this.
In addition your passport needs to be valid and at least a year from expiration.
You will need to produce a police report free of arrests or convictions for five years
validated by the nearest Panamanian consulate to your home residence
or apostillized in the USA.
And you will need a medical exam done in Panama.
Investment Visas and Residency in Panama
These programs include an investor visa, a reforestation visa, and person of means or private incomes visas.