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Almost Ten Thousand Foreigners Acquired Residence Cards in Panama in the First Four Months of 2023

According to preliminary data published by the Panamanian National Migration Service (Servicio Nacional de Migración), almost 10 thousand foreign nationals from different countries acquired/ extended residence permits in the first four months of 2023.

Over the period, the Migration Service processed 10,338 applications for legal residence in Panama. This is by about 30% more than the number of applications processed in the same period of 2022: 7,261 applications for legal residence acquisition/ prolongation were submitted then.

Residence in Panama

The largest part of the applications (9,862) were approved. 476 applications were rejected. 3,425 applicants acquired permanent residence in Panama, 2,485 applicants received temporary residence permits to help them settle the immigration formalities, and 1,200 people extended their residence permits. Many applicants were attracted by the opportunity to obtain a non-citizen passport of Panama for traveling.

Countries where immigrants to Panama came from

The majority of foreign nationals who applied for legal residence in Panama (or extended their residence permits) on different grounds including the ‘economic investor’ residence program came from the following countries (in descending order):

  • Colombia;
  • Venezuela;
  • Nicaragua;
  • United States;
  • China;
  • Dominican Republic;
  • Peru;
  • India;
  • Mexico;
  • Cuba;
  • Argentina;
  • Brazil;
  • Italy;
  • El Salvador;
  • Costa Rica;
  • Spain;
  • Canada;
  • Ecuador;
  • France;
  • Chile;
  • Honduras;
  • Germany;
  • South Korea;
  • Guatemala;
  • United Kingdom;
  • Portugal;
  • Bolivia;
  • South Africa.

Popular grounds for residency in Panama and other statistics

The largest portion of applicants were males between 20 and 70 years of age. Many of them applied for residence permits after acquiring a free consultation on permanent residence in Panama. The foreigners applied for residence on the following grounds:

  • Permanent residential accommodations in Panama (1,571);
  • Employment in Panama with an international company (1,354);
  • 6-year extension of the residence permit (1,117);
  • Legal residence for a dependent family member (1,106);
  • ‘Friendly Nations’ visa program (747);
  • Legal residence for educational purposes (747);
  • Residence in Panama on Pensionado visa – a visa program for retirees from foreign countries (579);
  • Legal residence by marriage (387);
  • 2-year extension of the residence permit (341).

We would like to note that forming a corporation in Panama can also make a foreign national eligible for a residence permit in the country. The figures above are quite impressive. They refute the claims that the Panamanian immigration regulations are overly strict as some local opposition members suggest. Statistics also show that residence in Panama by investment into residential property was a moderately popular option in the period that we discuss here.

Tightened immigration requirements in the USA as one of the reasons for inflow of foreigners to Panama

When commenting on the situation, Raul Moreira, the former director of the Panamanian National Institute of Statistics and Census (Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censo), said the “the political and economic stability of Panama coupled by comparatively high living standards make the country attractive for many foreigners”.  

Moreira also pointed out that one of the catalysts for the growth of demand for Panamanian residence was the tightened rules of entering the United States of America. According to the expert, under the present conditions, an increasing number of people are going to consider Panama for implementing their ‘American dream’. The availability of luxurious residential property in Panama is another important factor for wealthy foreigners looking to relocate to a warmer country.  

Moreira referred to the anti-immigration bill SB 1718 passed by the Parliament of Florida in May, 2023. Among other measures, the bill legalizes penalties for those medical institutions that provide services to persons unable to confirm the legality of their presence in the USA. The bill was also supported by Ron DeSantis, Florida’s Governor and possible candidate for US President.

The bill is expected to go into effect on July 1, 2023. It is rightfully considered one of the strictest immigration bills in the country. The document limits the opportunities for people with undefined migrant status as far as their freedom of movement, employment, and healthcare service acquisition are concerned.

In accordance with the bill, transportation of people without documents to Florida from other places is now considered a criminal offense. Anyone who commits it can face imprisonment of up to 15 years. If a person enters Florida on a driving license but he/ she can submit no other identification documents, his/ her driving license is considered invalid in Florida.

In addition to that, the bill obliges all employers who have more than 25 people on the staff to use the electronic payroll system called E-Verify. Those who fail to comply with this requirement will face penalties. The proponents of the bill claim that these measures will ‘help combat human trafficking’.

Professional assistance in solving immigration-related issues

Offshore Pro Group has a back office in Panama and our experts will be delighted to assist you in acquiring a residence permit in the country, purchasing residential property there, registering a company, or opening an account with a Panamanian bank. We have to note, however, that the popularity of Panama with immigrants from other countries has been growing recently and this fact may make the local Government put stricter requirements into place. The administrative procedures may become more complicated and the financial conditions may become harder in the near future.

We would like to stress that attractive immigration opportunities often do not remain attractive for a long time. Currently, Panama offers a wide spectrum of opportunities for those foreigners who are looking for a comfortable country to relocate to. However, you have to strike while the iron is hot! Please apply for a free consultation with our experts on matters related to immigration to Panama or elsewhere.

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