Changes in Immigration Law in Panama, 2021

by | Feb 11, 2022 | Panama | 1 comment

On May 7th, Panama issued an Executive Decree (law) announcing significant changes to the IMMIGRATION LAW IN PANAMA regarding the Friendly Nations Visa Program and the Introduction of a Digital Nomad Visa. The law will come into effect on August 18th, 2021.

Those who already have permanent residency in Panama are not affected. To benefit from the 2021 immigration conditions, immigrants must apply for their visa by August 5th. To seek clarification, please contact a Panama-based immigration lawyer. This article does not give legal advice.

Good News: Digital Nomad Visa  – Immigration Law in Panama 2021

The changes to Immigration Law in Panama included the creation of a Digital Nomad visa to attract tourists and stimulate economic reactivation and counter the negative economic effects of COVID-19 restrictions.

Remote work by shutterstock
Remote work by Shutterstock

Many see this law also as a counter initiative to the reduction of the Friendly Nations Visa options.

This visa is also called SHORT STAY VISA AS REMOTE WORKER. It is designed to attract tourists to Panama who can work remotely to stay longer in the country.

This visa reminds me of similar options available in other countries.

Here are the details:

  • Allows stay for up to 18 months with an initial period of 9 months
  • Must be self-employed or contracted by a foreign transnational company
  • Must prove income of $3000 per month for individuals, $4000 a month for families
  • Income is income-tax-free.
  • Visa cost: USD $550

Full text of the decree (PDF) Spanish

Friendly Nations Visa More Restrictive – Immigration Law in Panama 2021

Changes to Friendly Nations Visa Panama 2021 by Unsplash
Changes to Friendly Nations Visa Panama 2021 by Unsplash

Here are the details:

From Temporary to Permanent Residency

  • The Friendly Nations Visa program grants temporary residents for the first two years.
  • After two years, the temporary residency holder may apply for permanent residency.
  • The effective time frame to get permanent residency from August 5th, 2021 is three years.

Economic Activity Requirements

  • The applicant must be employed by a Panamanian company OR
  • The applicant must invest a minimum of USD 200,000 in Real Estate. The investor may finance this any amount with a Panamanian lender.
  • The previous option to own a business in Panama via IBC or LLC is no longer available to applicants.

Friendly Nations: One Country Removed

  • From August 5th, 2021, Taiwan will no longer be on the Friendly Nations Visa list.

Full text of the Decree (PDF) Spanish

The changes to the Immigration Law in Panama for the Friendly Nations are a reversal to the original entry conditions from 2006. But many people, particularly in Europe and the UK, are disappointed because they cannot leave their home country due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Immigrants must apply for the Friendly Nations Visa in-country using a Panama-based attorney. I still recommend contacting a Panama lawyer to discuss your individual circumstances. Most will give such advice for free. There may still be time…

When I moved to Panama in 2018, I received my permanent residency within four months of entering the country. Immigration granted me a multi-entry visa right away, which allowed me to leave the country and re-enter easily.

Soon after, I received my Cis Cedula (Panama ID), which makes doing business in Panama as easy as it is for a Panamanian. I fulfilled the economic requirements by creating a Panama business and depositing $5000 in a bank account. This is now no longer an option. Fortunately, my immigration lawyer reassured me that my permanent residency is safe and not subject to the new law.

If you have plans to move to Panama, get in touch with a Panama-based immigration lawyer right away and explore your options. There may still be time. Sign up for our Social Media Channels. We listed them on the Landing Page. Also, follow us for the latest news and advice, and you won’t miss a beat.

by: LP Wirth