The Panamanian Government has issued, through Executive Decree No. 197 of May 7th, 2021, major changes to the Friendly Nations Visa. The Decree was published on May 20th, 2021 and will come into force in 90 days (August 20, 2021). The changes include the elimination of the possibility to access permanent residence by incorporating a business and opening a bank account and depositing the sum of Five Thousand Dollars (US$5,000.00). The changes that will be in effect starting August 20, 2021 are:
1. A temporary residence visa will be granted for a term of two (2) years. You can apply and obtain a permanent residency by filing a second application thirty (30) calendar days or less, prior to the expiration of the initial two (2) year temporary residency.
2. You can apply for this Visa by showing the purpose for the residency in Panama, depending on your economic or professional activity, save for those professions and activities reserved to Panamanians. You may demonstrate your purpose:
A. For work reasons: this entails that the applicant must have a job already in Panama as the work permit must be submitted and approved for the residency to be approved.
B. For investments in real estate: this entails the applicant must purchase real estate in Panama for a value no less than US$200,000.00. This purchase can be financed by a local bank. Of note is that the purchase must be made under the name of the applicant and not through a company or private foundation, however, as other visas in Panama allow this, it is likely that this Decree will be amended in the future to reflect that the applicant can purchase through a corporation or other type of legal entity.