Since 2012, the Friendly Nations Visa has made it easy to get a permanent residency Visa for those who did not qualify for a Pensionado Visa. But that’s about to change drastically.
Some major changes are taking place to Panama’s Friendly Nations Visa program that may impact your ability to move to Panama if you do not have a pension or Social Security that is at least $1000 a month in lifetime income plus $250 for each dependent.
If you are already working with an immigration lawyer in Panama, please contact them for more information about the new Friendly Nation Visa rules which go into effect in August 2021.
If you are not yet working with an immigration lawyer, we encourage you to contact your attorney ASAP for details if you want to get the Friendly Nations Visa.
Pensionado (Retiree) Visa Program
These changes do not affect the Pensionado Visa program. If you are planning to retire in Panama (not work or start a business) and you have at least $1,000 USD per month in lifetime income (social security, pension, military retirement, etc) these changes do not affect you. [+$250 per month per dependent]
Current Friendly Nations Visa Program (ends August 5th)
Currently, you can qualify for the Friendly Nations Visa by meeting any one of the following requirements:
Get employment at a Panamanian company
Purchase real estate worth at least $100,000 (can be financed)
Deposit $5,000 into a Panamanian bank account and form a business in Panama
After applying for a Friendly Nations Visa, you receive a temporary visa while your application is being processed. This typically takes 3-6 months. Then you receive a permanent residency visa.
Once you receive your permanent residency visa, it is no longer necessary to meet the requirements listed above.
The Friendly Nations Visa has been very popular because it has allowed people who do not qualify for the Pensionado Visa to obtain residency at relatively low risk and low cost by forming a business in Panama.
Changes to Friendly Nations Visa Effective August 5, 2021
Effective August 5, 2021, you can qualify for a Friendly Nations Visa by meeting any one of the following requirements:
Get employment at a Panamanian company
Purchase real estate worth at least $200,000 (can be financed) It takes about 90 days to get financing. This must be titled real estate. It cannot be ROP real estate.
You will no longer be able to qualify by forming a business in Panama.
You can finance the purchase of real estate but it will take at least 90 days to get financing. Most banks want 20-30% down. Plus, you need a life insurance policy naming the bank as beneficiary and all loans must be paid off by the time you turn 70.
So, the new Friendly Nations Visa rules are not so friendly.
After applying for a Friendly Nations Visa, you will receive a temporary visa for 2 years. After 2 years, if you continue to meet the qualifications listed above, you can request a permanent residency visa.
What You Can Do – Application in Process
If you have already started the Friendly Nations Visa application process, these changes do not impact you. You will be grandfathered in.
By started the process, we mean you have gone to the immigration office in Panama with your lawyer.
Please contact your lawyer with any questions and to confirm that your application has been submitted. We have reliable and affordable immigration lawyer recommendations in our Complete Panama Relocation Guide.
What You Can Do – Application Not Started
If you were planning to obtain residency in Panama by forming a business, there is still time! Our lawyer has informed us that as long as your application is submitted by July 19, you will be grandfathered in under the current rules.
You and everyone applying for the Friendly Nations Visa will need to be in Panama to apply for the Friendly Nations Visa. You should plan to be in Panama about 7 days. At the end of the 7 days, you will walk away with a temporary visa and a multi-entry stamp in your passport.
The multi-entry stamp allows you to leave Panama while you are waiting for your permanent visa to be ready.
Usually, your permanent visa is ready about 3-4 months after you get your temporary visa. This will require another trip to Panama if you are not in-country.
If you want to get the Friendly Nations Visa under the current (easy) rules, we strongly encourage you to come to Panama and submit your application as soon as possible. Do not wait until July 19.
Ready to start the process now? Purchase our Complete Panama Relocation Guide. The guide is available online and includes all of the same information we share during our tours about how to make a smooth move to Panama. It even contains all of our trusted contacts for immigration, real estate, insurance, and more.
Our recommended lawyers’ contact information is inside the online guide. Click on Directory at the top, then click on Lawyer.
Stay Tuned For Updates
We’ll send out another update by email as soon as we have more information to share with you.