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Professional visas in Panama

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You must apply for a professional visa to be able to work in Panama. You can choose the type of visa which best suits your needs...

Do you dream of acquiring professional experience in a foreign country? Panama can offer you what you are looking for. However, you will have to fill in some formalities required to be authorized to work in the country. In fact, you will need a professional visa or a work permit. Procedures can be quite complicated: you will especially have to be patient.

 Good to know:

Most expatriates in Panama are self-employed or have invested in an existing company. Some of them receive monthly income from various sources.

Types of visas

There are different types of professional visas in Panama: the investor visa (see article Invest in Panama), the temporary work visa, the City of Knowledge visa and the specific countries program.

Temporary work visa

This visa allows companies operating within the City of Knowledge, in Panama, to recruit foreigners on short-term contracts. To be eligible, you must have professional, educational, scientific, technical, cultural, artistic, musical skills, expertise and qualities which are not available locally. Temporary work visa grants you a three months stay in Panama.

 Warning:

Temporary work visa extensions are not allowed. Moreover, the duration of your stay in Panama should be more than 15 days.

You are highly advised to hire a lawyer to assist you in the visa application procedures. Documents to be produced for obtaining a temporary work visa are:

  • a duly completed and signed application form
  • three passport-size photographs
  • copies of your identity card, passport or residence securities
  • fees of some US$ 100 to be paid to the National Immigration Service
  • copies of your air tickets
  • evidence of your accommodation booking
  • your certificate of social security payment
  • a letter of responsibility issued by the company which wants to appoint you
  • evidence of your ability to pay taxes according to the value specified in the employment contract
  • a deposit of around US$ 250.

Specific countries program

This program provides professional opportunities to citizens of specific countries. The objective of this program which is established by the Panamanian government is to attract foreign expertise. Note that this program applies to citizens of the following countries: Andorra, Argentina, Austria, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, France, Finland, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Taiwan, United Kingdom, USA and Uruguay.

The program offers immediate permanent residence. The Panamanian government will issue a temporary residence card at the visa application. Your application's processing time may take up to 8 months. Once the procedures are completed, you will receive a national identity card which will grant you permanent residency in Panama. You can also apply for naturalization after 5 years.

 Good to know:

Your dependents, that is your spouse, your parents, less than 18 years old children, children with disabilities and/or children between 18 and 25 years who are still students are also eligible to permanent residency.

Documents to be submitted with the visa application are:

  • a valid passport
  • an identity card or a driver's license
  • a copy of your a criminal record
  • a medical certificate issued in Panama
  • six passport-size photographs
  • your marriage certificate if you are married
  • your dependent children's birth certificates if they are less than 18 years old.

Moreover, you must make a deposit of at least US$ 5,000 on a Panamanian bank account and an additional amount of US$ 2,000 for each dependent. You will also need either a property ownership document in Panama, a company registration certificate or a job offer with a work contract issued by a Panamanian company.

Authentication of documents

All documents must be notarized and authenticated with Panamanian authorities in your home country before being presented in Panama. Fees of some US$ 30 per page will apply. Procedures can be completed in person or by post. Note that all documents must be valid and current. Photocopies will not be accepted.

 Useful link:

National Immigration Service of Panama www.migracion.gob.pa

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See also

Pensionado visas will cost between $1000-1500 per person. Because of the cost, you may find that this visa is not worth it.
The tourist visa entitles you to a 90 days stay in Panama. This visa may be renewed at each exit from the country.
The investor visa grants permanent residence in Panama for two years. The agricultural investment visa grants six years temporary residence.

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