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  1. Several companies (especially in the IT sector) are offering their employees more flexible working models and making teleworking the new normal. Nowadays for many employees it does not matter where they work from, which creates new freedoms, self-determination and opportunities when it comes to choosing a place to live. Why not move your workplace to the tropics in the short or long term? Like many other Caribbean countries, Panama has adapted its legislation to the new working conditions and has created an immigration category especially for remote workers and/or digital nomads. With this measure, the government hopes to encourage the development of the national economy, through investment and consumption of local goods and services. To qualify for the remote worker visa you must meet the following conditions: To have an employment contract from a foreign company of transnational character or to be a self-employed worker, in the modality of remote worker To carry out functions that take effect abroad. Receive income from a foreign source and with an annual amount not less than thirty-six thousand U.S. dollars (US$36,000), or its equivalent in a foreign currency. To apply for the Remote Worker-Visa, the following documents must be submitted: Complete copy of the passport duly authenticated by a Panamanian notary. Five (5) passport size photos. Criminal background check from the country of origin or residence (duly apostilled). Health certificate issued by a licensed Panamanian professional. Affidavit of personal background. Completion of the corresponding application form. Copy of the applicant's medical insurance policy. Affidavit of Non-Acceptance of any job offer or service offer from nationals, residents, tourists or companies of Panama in order to carry out business within the Panamanian territory (signed by the applicant). Payment of two hundred and fifty U.S. dollars (US$250) in favor of the National Immigration Service. Proof that your income comes from a foreign source: Bank account statement from your bank abroad (or from a local bank), duly sealed by the issuing bank that proves the transaction of the remittance of the funds and that accredits that the same is linked to the declared labor condition (if it comes from a foreign bank, the statement must be duly apostilled). Additional requirements for REMOTE EMPLOYEES If your are a foreign employee who wishes to reside in Panama to work remotely for a foreign company, you must additionally provide the following documents: Certification or proof of existence of the foreign company you are working for in the place where it is registered (apostilled). Letter of the company (apostilled), on the company’s letterhead, signed by the legal representative stating the following Your general information. The position and functions performed within the company. Your monthly income (which cannot be less than three thousand US dollars US$3,000), periodicity of payments and that it comes from a foreign source. The modality of your job (remote work / home office) The commitment to assume the costs of return or repatriation to your country of origin or destination, if necessary. Additional requirements if your are SELF-EMPLOYED OR DIGITAL ENTREPRENEUR In order to apply for a visa as a remote worker, a self-employed person must provide the following documents: Certification or proof of your company, duly registered abroad, through which you will conduct your business (apostilled). Notarized affidavit describing the commercial relationship with the clients to whom your are providing your services. Once approved the visa as a remote worker will grant you the right to live and work in Panama as a remote worker or digital nomad without having to request any other type of procedure or additional permission. The visa will have a duration of nine (9) months, extendable one-time (1) for the same period.
  2. Before starting any business, apart from the study and analysis of the market, profitability and competition, you should investigate the legal requirements in order to execute your entrepreneurial idea. Certain economic activities require a special commercial license. Although in Panama there are not as many restrictions as in other countries when it comes to starting your own business, there are certain commercial activities that are exclusively reserved for nationals. This limitation is based on Article 20 of the Constitution of the Republic of Panama, which establishes that Panamanians and foreigners are equal before the law, but for reasons of labor, national economy, morality, health, public safety and other conditions, the exercise of certain activities may be denied to foreigners in general. Which activities are reserved for nationals? Retail in general is reserved for Panamanians. That is to say, the direct sale of products to the Consumer (B2C). But it is possible to sell wholesale products (B2B) to distributors, supermarkets or other stores that sell directly to the customer. It is also possible to import and export products or merchandise. And, there are certain exceptions when it comes to agricultural products that you produce yourself on your own your farm and then sell them (example farmer's market). The so-called "liberal professions" in Panama require a special permit and can only be performed by Panamanians by birth or foreigners with a letter of naturalization. These include the following professional branches: Nursing, Barbering and cosmetology (there are exceptions for foreigners married to Panamanian nationals), Dentistry, Engineering (Civil, Chemical and Forestry are not allowed, the rest are), Architecture (there are exceptions for foreigners married to nationals), Agricultural Sciences, Pharmacy, Chiropractors, Nutrition, Medicine, Psychology, Medical Assistants, Accountancy, Journalism, Laboratorians, Public Relations, Speech Therapists, Therapists and the like, Economics, Social Workers, Veterinary Medicine, Physiotherapy, Medical Radiology, Law, Dental Assistants, Sociology, Chemistry, Sociology, Chemistry, Education in the following fields: History, Geography and Civics. (The rest of the fields are allowed). If I studied a career in medicine or nursing, can I practice it directly in Panama as a foreigner? The answer is no. Unless you are naturalized and your degree is recognized in Panama, you cannot. But what you can do is to incorporate a company in Panama (for example, a private clinic or an agency offering nursing services) and be the owner of that company and hiring licensed Panamanian employees to perform the service under your supervision. For the activities of engineering, architecture, insurance, real estate companies, certain tourism companies (such as travel agencies or tour operators) among others, there is a special rule that says that the president and legal representative of the company must be the person who holds the license to exercise that economic activity. In that case, it is possible to hire a person with said license, but it is the company that provides the service. The same company of which you are the owner. You would be the one who manages and administrates the company and provides instructions based on your experience and knowledge in that field. But it will be your company together with your collaborators, that will execute the work and carry out the commercial activity. You may not be able to validate your architectural degree in Panama (or it may be a little difficult to do so), but it is possible for you to have your own construction company. Which activities are allowed for foreigners in Panama? Services and wholesale activities are accessible to foreigners. This means that you can open a hostel or B&B, you can open a restaurant, import and/or export products, work remotely offering (digital) services to customers anywhere in the world, invest in real estate and live on rent and much more. In fact we have clients all over Panama who operate touristic and/or gastronomic companies, who are owners of hostels, hotels and restaurants, who produce strawberries, tofu or grow gourmet coffee, who are involved in construction, real estate projects or real estate investment, who offer maritime services, who provide IT services to clients in Germany, logistics services, who sell digital products or software, real estate agents and property managers, who work remotely as freelancers for clients in Europe and/or the United States, who buy nails in Taiwan and sell them to European companies, and much more. As corporate lawyer I am passionate about entrepreneurship and new business set-ups, and there are endless opportunities and entrepreneurial ideas to discover. Tell me about your experience. What is your business idea?
  3. How to Keep Your Panama Visa as a Part-Time Resident With the current restrictions implemented on international air traffic, border closures, and controls due to COVID-19 it is difficult for many temporary, part-time or permanent residents in Panama to travel to Panama and thus maintain their current permanent residency status. Most foreign residents in Panama know the golden rule of "having to travel to Panama every two years to maintain your resident status". But are there any exceptions to that rule? Can I lose my residency in Panama? The answer is, "Yes." In fact, the law establishes a list of reasons that may cause the loss or denial of residency in Panama. Some of the most important are the following: Have been convicted of committing a fraudulent crime or tax fraud. Have a criminal or police record in your country of origin or perform criminal acts within Panama. Having been absent for more than two (2) years from the national territory, unless such absence is justified and authorized by the Director of the National Immigration Service. What are the consequences if, due to the current circumstances, I cannot travel to Panama in order to maintain my status as a resident? The Law stipulates that there must be a reason for the absence. It is presumed that a global pandemic is a sufficient reason to justify the absence since the National Immigration Service of Panama has suspended all terms for the time being. Are there any legal procedures to recover my residency if it is canceled? If the National Immigration Service decides to cancel your residency in Panama (remembering that in our country nothing happens automatically), there are legal procedures to request the reactivation of your status as a resident, in case you have been out of Panama for a period of more than two (2) years and up to a maximum of six (6) years. To get your permanent residency back, you must meet the following requirements: Copy of the resolution that granted the permanent residency or in its defect a copy of the migration ID card issued by the National Immigration Service of Panama. Copy of your passport and of the registration stamp. Copy of your Cedula (E-card), duly authenticated by the Tribunal Electoral. Sworn Affidavit before a Notary Public in Panama, stating the reasons for your absence. You will have a term of 30 working days to present the petition for recovery of your residency, starting on the day you re-enter Panama. The request must be filed by a licensed immigration lawyer in Panama. What happens if I can not travel to Panama for more than six years? Foreigners who have remained more than six (6) years outside of Panama and whose residency has been canceled by the National Immigration Service will lose their status permanently and must start a completely new immigration procedure in accordance with current regulations at that time. There is one exception to the golden rule... If you are an Italian citizen and obtained your residency in Panama under the "Panama - Italy Treaty" Visa, you will not lose your status. This is a special cause protected by the Law. Bella Italia!
  4. Three Month Extension of Migratory Status for Foreigners in Panama Panama’s National Immigration Service (SNM) is now open and taking new applications and appointments, but due to rules established by Panama’s Ministry of Health (MINSA), will only be operating at 25% capacity. Effective today, June 8, SNM started a 90-day period during which foreigners may submit applications to maintain or adjust their immigration status in Panama without incurring fines. This applies to applicants whose immigration status expired between March 13 and June 7. Additionally, documentation previously authorized by SNM that expired any time between March 13 and June 7 will remain valid for a period of three months. This does not apply to bank references and health certificates, which must be updated. Applicants whose document expired at any time outside of the window of March 13 to June 7 will need to update their migration status and will be subject to the applicable fines. Tourists in Panama are reminded that they will have three months to either leave the country or begin a new migratory process with SNM. Details about SNM’s reopening schedule: The week of June 8 to June 12, SNM will only attend to migration lawyers and marital interviews. Hours of operation: 7:00 am to 4:00 pm. Starting on June 15, SNM will begin the process of taking photographs for the foreigners who require them, and attention to all other clients. All information about notifications and the migratory legal processes can be found at SNM’s website, www.migración.gob.pa.
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