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Illegal Immigrants Not Welcome in Panama

This post was published before major changes were made to the Friendly Nations Visa (FNV) program. Find out if you are eligible to move to Panama.

Panama welcomes legal immigration and provides many paths to obtaining residency in Panama. The Pensionado Visa is the most popular Visa for those who want to retire in Panama. The Friendly Nations Visa is ideal for those who are not retired and who would like to work in Panama.

If a foreigner wants to work in Panama, they must first obtain a residency Visa then a work permit. The entire process takes 5-8 months. There are no government programs to help support someone while they are waiting to get a work permit.  In Panama, there are no food stamps or welfare available for Panamanians let alone foreigners.

Employers can get a hefty fine if they hire a foreigner who does not have a work permit so it is less likely that an illegal immigrant would be able to find work in Panama.

The Panama government has checkpoints throughout the country to check IDs.  If they find that someone is in the country illegally, they will be deported. Panama considers a person an illegal immigrant if they have been in Panama longer than 6 months but do not have a residency Visa.

Tourists are allowed to stay in Panama for 6 months. If they want to stay in Panama longer, they have to either (1) get a residency Visa, or (2) leave Panama for at least 30 days before they can come back.  Tourists are not allowed to work in Panama.

Panama’s strict immigration laws, combined with no welfare programs, make Panama less attractive to immigrants who do not plan to, or cannot, get a residency Visa.

Jackie Lange

Jackie Lange is the founder of Panama Relocation Tours and lives in the highlands of Boquete Panama. She has helped thousands of people relocate to Panama.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Linda says

    Wow , well done and thank you.

  2. Robert Leverette says

    Great article. Sad to say U.S. Citizens are being forced to look for a new country to live in.

    • Angie says

      Yes, I agree with Robert; if the U.S. doesn’t solve its illegal immigration problem, many of its citizens will relocate. Glad to see that Panama enforces its laws.

  3. ROGER GREEN says

    IM IN THE PROCESS OF LEAVING THE U.S.A. BECAUSE OF THE IMMIGRATION PROBLEM .. MY MEDS COST SOOO MUCH BECAUSE OF THAT.. I WAS IN EL-VALLUE FOR 2 WEEKS, I HAVE A FRIEND THAT LIVES THERE.. I WAS LOW ON MEDS SOOO MY FRIEND TOOK ME TO A PHARMACY, MY BREATHING MEDS ARE 385.00 DOLLARS IN THE U.S. I SHOWED THE YOUNG LADY AT THE COUNTER WHAT I NEEDED, SHE LEFT AND CAME BACK WITH WHAT I NEEDED, THEN SHE SAID 39.00 DOLLARS EACH .. 2 IS ALL I COULD GET. THAT WILL LAST ME 4 MONTHS.. WOW… I WAS IN SHOCK.. WHY DOES IT COST 385.00 IN THE U.S. AND 39 DOLLARS IN PANAMA, ITS THS SAME MEDS..

    • Jackie Lange says

      many medications are a lot more affordable in Panama.

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