Jump to content

Recommended Posts

A lot of us thought this would happen. Some will leave and some will stay because of the new rule. Border hopping is still legal. If they change the time out of the country to more than 72 hours probably a lot more will leave. Some can't afford the 90 day turn around. Most countries don't allow 72 hour exit and return on tourist visas. We'll see. Panama had to protect itself. I forgot to say that some of these so called lawyers will make you lose  your money not completing everything within six months. Mine took 4 months and she has connections in Panama City.

Edited by Hil
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Moderators

 

Quote

Varela shortens tourist stays and residency processing period but rejects PRD extremes

by Eric Jackson

In the face of virulent xenophobia and proposals of draconian changes to Panama’s immigration laws, President Varela has tightened up a couple of the regulations that implement the existing laws, without touching the laws themselves. In 2010 the Martinelli administration lengthened the stay on a tourist visa from three months to six months, and the current administration has moved it back to three months. Those applying for resident or pensionado visas used to be able to stay for a year while the paperwork was underway. Now it’s six months and such folks have to pay $50 for the temporary ID card that goes with that status. In the decree adjusting these regulations, the reduction in waiting time for a resident’s or pensioner’s visa it is said that these days it doesn’t take more than six months to process the paperwork.

The decree appears to be at least partly aimed at heading off proposals by PRD legislators Elias Castillo and Zulay Rodríguez, which the deputies have described but which have not been published. They would shorten tourist visas to 30 days and allow only one return, ending legal “permanent tourism” and curbing many other sorts of tourism as well. They would also require tourists to register with and stay at hotels, and if found not to be staying at the hotels where they said that they would stay would subject them to arrest.

Rodríguez is quite open about wanting to prohibit foreigners, tourists or otherwise. She and her followers vilify all foreigners as criminals, spitting special venom at Venezuelans and Colombians but attacking the North Americans and Europeans who come here as well. Will she try to ride this campaign in to the presidency in 2019? Her problem with changing the immigration laws, beyond the damage that they would do to the Panamanian economy, is that her colleagues by and large can’t stand her and hesitate to do anything that would boost her politician fortunes. Although she was recently elected to head the women’s branch of the Democratic Revolutionary Party, many of her fellow PRD deputies also disdain her. For example, Rodríguez has charged another PRD legislator, Javier “Patacón” Ortega, with criminal defamation for describing her as “a person with mental problems, a crazy schizophrenic.” Across the aisle, Panameñista deputy Popi Varela — the president’s brother — said that “what comes from her mouth is trash.” Trash talk does, however, have a substantial following.

Let’s brush away the semantics and the fake news. “Permanent tourists” are a species of residents who live in Panama on tourist visas, leaving every so often and then returning on new visas. This is legal. There may be some who come here to commit crimes — which is illegal — but these are a small minority. The great majority of crimes committed in Panama are committed by Panamanians. Most foreigners in Panama do their best to avoid trouble.

Like standard tourists, the permanent tourists spend money in the Panamanian economy. Many rent or buy or build homes — which is legal. Some start businesses — which is generally legal. Many work for somebody else — which is generally illegal. Many hire Panamanians — which is legal and encouraged.

Why does somebody live the life of a permanent tourist here? Most would get resident or pensionado visas but can’t show enough of the accepted sorts of wealth or income to qualify. Some have criminal records that would bar them from residency. Some are hiding from creditors elsewhere. Generally they have to show a plane ticket back to the country from whence they came to get in as a tourist, such that if they come upon hard times or illness they are sent back to be some other country’s burden.

“Tourism,” whether of a traditional kind or thinly disguised residency, is big business here, more than seven percent of the Panamanian economy. Rich white people staying in expensive hotels? That’s the stereotypical ideal, which, judging from the occupancy rates of hotels that chase that market segment, is except for a few weeks per year a failure. Niche markets — young backpackers without much money, but who may come back in a few years when they have more money to spend, or people of the Panamanian diaspora who come back to visit family and friends and don’t stay in hotels, for two examples of many — are important to the industry as a whole if not to the hotels that bill themselves as five-star. The World Travel and Tourism Council estimated that in 2014 more than 135,000 Panamanian jobs directly depended on tourism.

Restrictive laws, unfriendly statements by public officials and the behavior of belligerent citizens can adversely affect a publicity sensitive industry like tourism. On the other hand, a perception that public policies work for the benefit of foreigners rather than citizens is toxic to the career of any politician who gets blamed for such policies. It appears that President Varela’s decree seeks to balance these concerns, as well has to head Zulay off at the pass. Tourism Minister Gustavo Him, however, avoids the partisan spins. He opposes the sorts of restrictions for which Castillo and Rodríguez call, he said, because “anything that reduces the possibility of tourists coming is worrisome.”

http://www.thepanamanews.com/

 

redo of gaceta re immigration_Page_1.png

redo of gaceta re immigration_Page_2.png

Link to post
Share on other sites

More of the Executive Decree concerning Immigration was published yesterday in LaGaceta and it will have the net effect of requiring residency visa holders in the European Union to obtain a Tourist visa in order to come to Panama.

DECRETO EXECUTIVO No. 591 de MIERCOLES 28 de DICIEMBRE, 2016

Gaceta Oficial Digital   GacetaNo_28196b_20170113.pdf.png

 

This is the DECRETO EJECUTIVO NO. 248 DE 21 DE JULIO DE 2009 signed by then President Martinelli in July 2009 which is being repealed and replaced.

Untitled    19022.pdf.png

Edited by Keith Woolford
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Moderators

The following is more information about Executive Decree 591 that Keith mentions above. First is the actual one page decree as signed by President Varela in late December 2016. An online news article discusses its version of the implications and impact of this decree.

Read carefully, as we are mixing apples and oranges here.

 

Decree-591.png

 

Quote

Panama accepts US, UK, Canadian and Australian visa vetting

January 15, 2017
 
Russian-Mafia-Bumper-Window-Sticker-Deca
Mafia families with roots in the former Soviet Union have established major bases in Brooklyn, Atlanta, South Florida and Southern California. Russian mobsters are also to be found in London and Toronto. — and in Panama. Under Varela’s Decree 591, any member of this criminal underworld who has obtained a residemcy or multiple entry visa for the USA, the UK, Canada or Australia is welcome in Panama, few questions asked. The graphic is an auto sticker seen in the United States.
 

Panama cedes visa vetting to four countries

by Eric Jackson

On January 13 Executive Decree 591 was published in the Gaceta Oficial, the second change in immigration policies promulgated by the Varela administration in less than a week. It allows those from countries which require a visa to enter Panama to come to this country without a visa and without the need to obtain a tourist visa if they have a resident or multiple entry visa to the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada or Australia. This change in Panama’s immigration regulations has already been misrepresented by some media and at least one foreign embassy. It does NOT waive tourist and residency visa requirements for US, UK, Canadian or Australian citizens — only for citizens of third countries who have been vetted for the right sorts of visas in those countries.

To get this free pass into Panama the visa for one or more of those four countries must have at least one years’ validity left on it and the person must have actually set foot in the country that issued the visa. Colombia and a number of other Latin American countries have reciprocal agreements that waive the requirement to previously obtain a visa before entering Panama, so the new decree does not affect citizens of those countries. Russian and Chinese citizens, and people from most of the Caribbean nations, will come under the protection of the new decree.

In its argument justifying the new decree, the Varela administration pleads that it needs to better direct its immigration control resources and “that friendly nations with which Panama has established strong ties of cooperation with respect to the problems of migration control … have established systems of migratory vigilance and control with elevated standards of security and trustworthiness.” That notion is quite controversial within the United States and the United Kingdom, where anti-immigrant politics are flourishing, often on the basis of fictitious or exaggerated stories but also sometimes fed by tales of the actual admission of foreign criminals into those countries by their immigration authorities.

Canada, it seems, has a foreign policy of often accepting and encouraging the emigration of its own criminal element to Panama. When Canadian career criminal Monte Friesner used the Panamanian courts to strike back at press criticism, the Canadian Embassy here considered that it was not their concern. Similarly, when former British Columbia lawyer Mary Sloane — allowed to resign from the bar when caught stealing from a client — ran a pyramid scheme in Panama whose victims were mostly Canadians living here, Panamanian authorities refused to act because the victims were foreigners and the Canadian Embassy refused to take a position because it was something that happened in Panama. While a hit man for the Montreal chapter of the Hells Angels was extradited from his Coronado refuge, Panama has been a dumping ground for Canadian pedophile priests and stock swindlers without much apparent concern in Ottawa. But Canadians have embraced multicultural ideals to a much greater extent than the British and Americans have, such that anti-immigration agitation is very much a fringe cause there.

The decree makes those foreigners with European Union visas subject to the same sorts of tourist and visa requirements that apply to US citizens — or can be more onerous, depending on the countries of origin of such persons. Cubans, Dominicans and Haitians with US green cards will have easier access to Panama than do American citizens.

Read the decree in its Spanish original here.

http://www.thepanamanews.com/2017/01/panama-accepts-us-uk-canadian-and-australian-visa-vetting/

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Moderators
Quote

European Union visas will no longer help foreigners to entering Panama

Sat, 01/14/2017 - 10:21
 
The legal provision repeals Decree 248 of July 21, 2009

The legal provision repeals Decree 248 of July 21, 2009

 

PANAMA CITY.- Foreigners who used to enter Panama without processing tourist permits because they had visas or residences from European countries will now need to carry out the diligence before the Panamanian authorities after the issue of a decree.

Since 2009, the Panama Government has exempted visa applicants from persons who have a permit to enter or reside in the European Union, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.

In the Executive Decree 591 of December 28, 2016, published in the Official Gazette, the Government of Panama withdraws from the list the visas issued by the European Union, except the United Kingdom.

It also states that the privilege that is maintained with the documents of the other four countries will apply to foreigners who, due to their nationality, would have to apply for an entry visa to Panama, such as Cubans, Dominicans and Haitians.

The decree specifies that the visas issued by the other States must be multiple (for various entries and exits), must have been previously used in the territory of the granting country and that their validity will not be less than one year when entering Panama.

The legal provision, signed by President of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, repeals Decree 248 of July 21, 2009, which initially stipulated the measure that included the countries of the European Union.

The document states that the Panamanian government seeks to "dedicate most of the available resources to migratory control and to strengthening the mechanisms for verifying and controlling immigrants of nationalities that have a greater impact on the country's security index," without identifying them.

According to the law, all nationals of countries that have not signed a visa suppression agreement with Panama must file a visa with the National Immigration Service or consulates if they wish to visit the country.

Panama is currently requesting visas to countries such as Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and most of Asia, Africa and Oceania.

In Europe, it requests a visa to Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, Moldova, Romania, Russia and Ukraine, according to information from tourism authorities. EFE

http://www.panamatoday.com/panama/european-union-visas-will-no-longer-help-foreigners-entering-panama-3226

Link to post
Share on other sites

If the decree itself is no clearer than Mr. Jackson's article, I can understand the confusion generated. I had to read it multiple times and then think even longer to figure out what I think the decree means in terms of U.S., Canadian, and Australian citizens: namely, nothing. It does, however, apply to persons who already have been granted immigration to those three countries and who have actually been there within a year. They would not have to be vetted again in Panama for purposes of obtaining a visa. So, essentially, as Keith says, the government of Panama seems to be saying that vetting by those three countries is sufficient to allow entry into Panama. This decree (591) is separate from Decree 590 relating to the length of stay under a tourist visa. Is that the "apples and oranges" the Moderator refers to? (If my understanding is correct, it might be better that the two decrees have two separate threads in CL to avoid further confusion. On the other hand, maybe I'm the only one who was/am confused.)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well.  Seems like some is lost in the translation and there are some articles that confuse more some expats living in Panama.

First there are two things very and totally different in the two Presidential decrees.   DO NOT CONFUSE TOURIST WITH IMMIGRANTS.  Two different things.  A tourist is a person who will visit a place for leisure, fun, etc for a limited space of time like vacations.   An immigrant is an individual from a foreign country moving to another country to reside, live, work, etc.

Let see the two decrees in particular

 

Decreto Ejecutivo 590.  Del 28 de Diciembre de 2016

This presidential decree supersede the Presidential decree 536 from 28/May/2016.  The immigration law always granted 90 days for a tourist to stay in the country without any problem.   President Martinelli did a Presidential decree 536 in May 2016 rising the stay period from 90 days to 180 days.  The law wasnt change.  Only a decree was used to grant some tourist to stay double time in Panama.   What this new decree by president Varela does is to supersede the Martinelli's Decreto Ejecutivo and return back to 90 the original time stated by the law.  

It is being supposed that there will be some "special" considerations to those immigrants who are working toward getting all the immigration paperwork done to obtain their legal residency.  The law states the payment of a $50 fee for giving more time to those people that requires it.  

 

Decreto Ejecutivo 591.  Del 28 de Diciembre de 2016.

This presidential decree talks about tourist or foreign people that require a VISA to enter Panama.  There are some countries that by any special reason their nationals require to have beforehand a tourist visa.  Like panamanians travelling to USA.  The decree states that nationals from those countries that Panama request them Visas could enter the country without visa if they already have visas from countries like:  USA, Canada, Australia and European Union.  I think that the main idea is not to discover the hot water and saving panamanian immigration authorities to do this screening for those nationals.  It is a very lengthy and hard process for some countries get a tourist visa to the US and Canada.  So if that individual from those countries that requires visa to visit Panama own and has an active and valid visa to those countries.  They wont be requested a tourist visa when travelling Panama.  

This decree wont affect in any situation people from other nations like USA, Colombia, and many other countries that do not require tourist visa beforehand to enter Panama.

 

 

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Keith Woolford said:

Here's another article. http://www.panamatoday.com/panama/european-union-visas-will-no-longer-help-foreigners-entering-panama-3226

It would seem that the assumption by Panama is that the vetting processes of the four countries are equal or superior to their own.

 

Keith

That is correct.  That is the general idea of the scope of the decree.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

It seems that every effort to describe the effect of Executive Decree 591 devolves into gibberish. From Newsroom Panama this morning is the following paragraph:

The decree is justified, among other things, in that the Executive is interested in regulating the migratory flow of immigrants of nationalities that have greater incidence in the index of insecurity of the country reports TVN.

I got a chuckle out of "nationalities that have greater incidence in the index of insecurity of the country." In other words, Panama Immigration wants to turn its attention to Latin American and South American immigrants, whom they see as the major source of the problem, and let other countries vet most other immigrants who, presumably, create the fewest problems (at least on a percentage basis). This is a logical and worthy move, in my opinion. I just don't know why no one seems to be able to express it.

Edited by Bonnie
punctuation
Link to post
Share on other sites

Most, if not all of the press articles, seemed to have missed the point that the measures have been in place since 2009.

..unless I'm reading it totally wrong or over-simplifying, the decree of 2009 allowed anyone with a Visa issued by one of the four countries mentioned, plus the E.U., to enter Panama. (without a Visa)

 

DECRETO EXECUTIVO No. 591 de MIERCOLES 28 de DICIEMBRE, 2016

Gaceta Oficial Digital   GacetaNo_28196b_20170113.pdf.png

 

This is the DECRETO EJECUTIVO NO. 248 DE 21 DE JULIO DE 2009 signed by then President Martinelli in July 2009 which is being repealed and replaced.

Untitled    19022.pdf.png

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Keith Woolford said:

Most, if not all of the press articles, seemed to have missed the point that the measures have been in place since 2009.

..unless I'm reading it totally wrong or over-simplifying, the decree of 2009 allowed anyone with a Visa issued by one of the four countries mentioned, plus the E.U., to enter Panama. (without a Visa)

 

DECRETO EXECUTIVO No. 591 de MIERCOLES 28 de DICIEMBRE, 2016

Gaceta Oficial Digital   GacetaNo_28196b_20170113.pdf.png

 

This is the DECRETO EJECUTIVO NO. 248 DE 21 DE JULIO DE 2009 signed by then President Martinelli in July 2009 which is being repealed and replaced.

Untitled    19022.pdf.png

 

Keith

Reading it very well.  Booth of them are almost similar.  It is a question of redaction.  The decree of 2009 says ALL PEOPLE NOT MATTER THEIR COUNTRY OF ORIGIN.    it covered anybody those that need visa to enter Panama and those who doesnt need visa to enter Panama.  

 

The decree of 2016 says PEOPLE WHO NEEDS VISA TO ENTER PANAMA.  So, people who dont need visa to enter Panama this new decree did not affect them at all.  It will only benefit specifically those who needs visa to enter Panama.  

It is just a change in the phrases and concept but at the end it was the same thing that was set originally at the decree from 2009

 

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Bonnie said:

It seems that every effort to describe the effect of Executive Decree 591 devolves into gibberish. From Newsroom Panama this morning is the following paragraph:

The decree is justified, among other things, in that the Executive is interested in regulating the migratory flow of immigrants of nationalities that have greater incidence in the index of insecurity of the country reports TVN.

I got a chuckle out of "nationalities that have greater incidence in the index of insecurity of the country." In other words, Panama Immigration wants to turn its attention to Latin American and South American immigrants, whom they see as the major source of the problem, and let other countries vet most other immigrants who, presumably, create the fewest problems (at least on a percentage basis). This is a logical and worthy move, in my opinion. I just don't know why no one seems to be able to express it.

Bonnie

Panama authorities have never had problems with immigrants of the so called FIRST WORLD COUNTRIES.  In Panama we have had periods of uncontrolled immigration and a large influx of immigrants in the last 25 years.  I do remember the first raid of colombians.  They were flying away from the drug war and the guerrilla war they had in Colombia and the economical problems they did had to make a living there.  Then we have a second wave of dominicans.  Travelling to Panama for the same reason as colombians.  Third wave were nicaraguans.  NOW the largest and most traumatic wave have been of venezuelans.  The problem seems to be that they came in large numbers.  More than those who were in first place like colombians.  Panama is a small country with less than 4 million people and cant have room for all the venezuelans that are coming and still are willing to travel to Panama.  Venezuela is a country with more than 32 million people and more than 4 millions wants to emigrate somewhere and we cant open our country to this large amount of people willing to come.  Most of them doesnt have the economical means to live in Panama.  

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, I understand, Roger. I just can't understand why no one seems to be able to better summarize the decree. It's a fairly straightforward concept, but the language has confused many, many people. And efforts to clarify haven't gotten much if any better.

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/15/2017 at 2:03 PM, MarieElaine said:

I am with you Bonnie, I too was confused!  I was initially hoping that the 90 day rule had been dropped for people from these 4 countries but apparently that is not to be.

Well Marie, you may have your wish.

Apparently Decree 590 only deals with people from countries who require a Visa to visit Panama.

For folks from Canada, the U.S., and a number of other countries for which Panama does not require a Visa, the180 day stay is still in force.

Confused yet?

Image result for confusion gif

Edited by Keith Woolford
Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know about Marie, but I am. Where is that in 590? I just reread the Decree (590) and, unless my Spanish is worse than I thought, I see no mention of Canada, the U.S., Australia, and the European Union.  It simply says 180 day visas will be reduced to 90 days and six months rather than a year allowed to get a permanent residency visa of some sort. It is Decree 591 that relates to tourists from these countries, as I read the two decrees..

Edited by Bonnie
Link to post
Share on other sites

Which word "visas," Keith. I see only one in Articulo 16, and I don't see what you mean.

The following was mailed to a Canadian citizen from the Canadian embassy, who agrees but doesn't explain why:

As per Panamanian immigration information will not affect Canadians, it applied only for countries that needs visa to enter the country. Canadians still allowed to stay 180 (6 months), but and the end is the sole prerogative of the country to allowed you to enter the country.

 Do Venezuelans, Colombians, Nicaraguans, etc. need a visa to enter the country while Americans and Canadians do not?

I'm getting questions about this as U.S. Warden and am struggling to understand the two decrees. In the meantime, I'm waiting for the U.S. Embassy to offer its interpretation.

Edited by Bonnie
additional info
Link to post
Share on other sites

This just adds to my confusion, I'm afraid. The chart itself is confusing, and I can't see where it plugs into the decree. I guess I'll just have to wait for guidance from the U.S. Embassy as to how it applies to U.S. citizens.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I actually think this latest 'clarification' is a nod to residential tourism.

Last Thursday I sat next to Gustavo Him on the airplane and mentioned the controversial 'length of stay' changes to him. He seemed to feel that a remedy to one problem (Colombians, Venezuelans) wouldn't be solved by causing another (to residential tourism).

Interview with the Director of Immigration

http://m.telemetro.com/nacionales/entrevistas/Director-Migracion-decreto-turistas-extranjeros_3_989931000.html

Edited by Keith Woolford
Link to post
Share on other sites

I received the below message tonight from the U.S. Embassy in Panama:

 

Based on multiple inquiries from U.S. citizens in Panama regarding Decree No.590 dated December 28, 2016, the Consular Section contacted the Panamanian Servicio Nacional de Migracion (SNM or Panamanian Immigration Office) for further clarification on the length of time U.S. Citizens are able to stay in Panama as tourists.  The SNM confirmed that U.S. citizens (as well as citizens of the UK, Canada, and Australia) are still allowed to enter Panama without a Panamanian visa and they can stay for up to 180 days as tourists. 

For more information regarding this matter, please visit the SNM’s Twitter account, which is available at the following link:  https://twitter.com/migracionpanama?lang=en

 

Kind regards,

 

Stephanie

 

Stephanie Espinal

Unit Chief/Jefe de Unidad

American Citizens Services/Federal Benefits

Unidad de Asistencia a Ciudadanos Estadounidenses/Beneficios Federales

Consular Section / Sección Consular                  

U.S. Embassy Panama / Embajada de los Estados Unidos de América en Panamá

e-mail: Panama-ACS@state.gov  Tel: (507) 317-5000

http://redirect.state.sbu/?url=http://redirect.state.sbu/?url=http://redirect.state.sbu/?url=http://redirect.state.sbu/?url=http://redirect.state.sbu/?url=http://redirect.state.sbu/?url=http://redirect.state.sbu/?url=http://panama.usembassy.gov    Fax: (507) 317-5303       

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Moderators

There are a couple of other postings here on CL that are related to this topic, but properly belong and were posted in other channels/forums. In order to provide a more complete package related to this topic, this reply provides links to two other related postings. Readers interested in getting the complete content on this subject are encouraged to view these other postings as well.

Think of this reply as nothing more than a cross-reference to related content in other channels.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...