To get any residency Visa in Panama, you are required to present a national criminal report, like an FBI report. If you have ANYTHING on your national criminal report, no matter how long ago, I highly recommend that you get a copy of your report to send to your immigration attorney to ask if you will be able to apply for a Visa.
If your national criminal report has ANY infractions on it, your attorney must go through a process called a Buena Vista, where they submit your national criminal report to the immigration director requesting that you be allowed to apply for a Visa. In most cases, you will be able to apply for a Visa .
However, Panama has tightened the rules for getting any Visa, including a Pensionado Visa. You cannot get approved to get a Visa if you have a felony drug charge, a DUI that is less than 7 years old, charged with aggravated assault with a firearm, or charged with being a pedophile.
In addition, Panama immigration has PROPOSED significant changes to the Friendly Nations Visa. These proposed changes are listed below. These are only proposed changes at this time. A group of immigration lawyers have written a letter. and requested a meeting, with the Immigration Director requesting that the changes not take effect for at least 6 months. We should know this month what will happen to the Friendly Nations Visa. Of course, I will let you know as soon as I know the details.
As you can see from the proposed changes to the Friendly Nations Visa, it seems to have been written by real estate agents trying to FORCE you to buy real estate if you want to get a Visa in Panama.
Proposed changes to the Friendly Nations Visa (if real estate agents in Panama get their way)
1. It will require two (2) applications to obtain permanent residency. You will first apply for a two (2) year temporary residency and then before that expires you will apply for the indefinite residency.
2. The economic purpose of the visa will be provided with the following options:
a) Having a Job in Panama while providing all the corresponding contracts and paperwork from the company giving you work (payroll, operation permit, good standings, etc…)
b) Purchasing a property with a value at least of $200k. Important thing here is that you are allowed to purchase with a mortgage and there is no minimum established from your own money. So for example you could put $20k down and finance $180k as long as you obtain financing for that amount.
c) Establish a business or buy a business with $150k minimum investment.
It is important to note that we don’t know when, OR IF, these changes will take place. Of course, as soon as I have more details, either way, I will let you know right away.
FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE CURRENTLY IN THE PROCESS OF GETTING A FRIENDLY NATIONS VISA THESE CHANGES WILL NOT AFFECT YOU.
IMPORTANT... If you already have a Friendly Nations Visa, you will be grandfathered in by the OLD rules. These changes will not affect you at all.