REPLAY: Visa Application Changes

Tourists can stay in Panama for 180 days. If you want to live in Panama longer, you need to get a residency visa. Panama offers several different visas. The most popular visa and most affordable visa is the Pensionado Visa. To qualify for this visa, you’ll need to prove a lifetime income of $1000USD/month for one person plus $250 for each dependent. Lifetime income is income from a pension from a job, Social Security retirement, RCMP, or military retirement.

Click on this link to see some of the other visa options if you do not qualify for the Pensionado Visa. Other visas all require a significant financial investment.

There have been a few changes to the residency visa process. Listen to the replay of this conference call for details about what you need to do to get a visa and what some of the changes are:

The two most significant changes are:

1. To apply for a visa, you’ll need to present a national criminal report like an FBI report. If there is anything on that report, even if it happened 40 years ago, your attorney will need to apply for a Buena Vista (sometimes called a Vista Buena) which is authorization from immigration to be able to apply for a residency visa. You cannot apply for a visa until your Buena Vista is approved. Immigration has a new supervisor who is denying most Buena Vista applications except DUI charges. We’ve heard from our immigration lawyers that there will be a new supervisor in January. So, if you have anything on your national criminal report, you may need to wait until 2022 to apply for a visa. Consult with your Panama immigration attorney if you have any “dings” on your national criminal report.

2. When you apply for a visa you are issued a temporary visa that is good for six months for Pensionado Visa. It usually takes about 3-6 months to get our permanent visa to be approved. If you want to be able to leave Panama while you are waiting for your permanent visa, you must to get a multi-entry stamp which costs $50. Failure to get the multi-entry stamp and leaving Panama while your visa is in process results in a $2000 per person fine! Effective last week, immigration is putting a QR code on the back of all temporary visa cards instead of a stamp in your passport. It still cost $50 for the QR code and it is not optional. This smart move saves two days off the time to get a 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


  1. Carmen L Guzman says

    Jackie, if I only want to live 6 months in Panama and 6 months in New York…..will I still qualify for a pension ads Visa?

    • Jackie Lange says

      You can still get the Pensionado visa even if you do not plan to live in Panama full time. With the visa, you’ll be able to take advantage of the Pensionado discounts.

  2. David says

    Does Buster have a visa? lol Is it difficult to bring pets into Panama.

  3. Aisha Smith says

    Are there other residency options if both of my parents were born in Panama?

    • Jackie Lange says

      You’d need to discuss with a Panama immigration lawyer what the visa options are if both your parents were born in Panama.

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