Wednesday, May 23, 2012

New Residency Program Offered.....

The government of Panamá just issued a new order making it easier to obtain permanent residency to live and work in the country.  Up until now foreigners had few options and those that didn't fit into any category had to remain "permanent tourists" living on a tourist visa.  The problem with this choice is that the individual would have to leave Panamá every six months for a few days, then return to set their visa status. 

We live her on a "pensionado visa," which means that we have income coming from a pension or social security outside of Panamá to support us.  We are not allowed to work in the country which is just fine with us.  Other people live on a "person of means" visa which means they invested a large sum of money into a business, bank CD or property here.  There are a few others but those are the two most common visas, until now.

On May 16, 2012 the government issued Order 343 creating a new category of Permanent Residency. In this category permanent residency is offered to foreign nationals from specific countries that maintain friendly, professional, economic, and investment relationships with the Republic of Panama.

These individuals will be able to start a business or obtain a work permit with the status of permanent resident, as long as they're from one of the approved countries.  The intention of the government is to ease their shortage of qualified workers and help keep the economy growing.

The following countries on the list are allowed to apply.
  • Germany
  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Brazil
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Spain
  • United States
  • Slovakia
  • France
  • Finland
  • "The Low Countries"
  • Ireland
  • Japan
  • Norway
  • Czechoslovakia
  • Switzerland
  • Singapore
  • Uruguay
  • Chile
In order to apply a person still needs to involve a lawyer and provide the following:
      1.  three passport sized photographs
      2. document that explains the purpose of requiring the permanent residency
      3. Proof of how much money you have in the bank by showing a bank statement from the  past month that reflects an account balance of no less than four digits, or that demonstrates your income that's acceptable to the National Immigration Service.

      4.  An identification card from your country

Dependents will also be allowed into the country as permanent residents but other requirements are needed.  For the complete article translated from the local newspaper by Don Winner, see the link below.
But before you pack your suitcase remember that Panamá is a Spanish speaking country.  So to obtain a job here one would need to be fluent in Spanish.  And also remember that minimum wage is low here, around $1.75 an hour in Panama City.  So I have to wonder if foreigners coming here will be enticed with high wages to make it worth while, or not? 
Just remember things do move slow here and the kinks still need to be worked out, but it's a sign that things are changing.  As for us we'll just keep enjoying retirement and lazy days under the mango trees.....along the gringo trail.

http://www.panama-guide.com/article.php/20120521191423780

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