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Moderator preface: The following posts were split out of a different topic that was related to an Executive Decree of December 2016 that dramatically shortened the time that a tourist visa was valid in Panama. That topic then began to focus on Steven Walker and his family, and their issues of being barred from returning to Panama after a "border hopping" cycle at Paso Canoas. For more details on that topic, see the referenced citation that has been added to this posting.

One side effect of that Executive Decree is that another expatriate with legal residency (@Twin Wolf Technology Group), who recently married a Colombian citizen in Medellin is having to make a decision how to handle their situation. That portion of the conversation started focusing on how to get Panama to recognize their Colombian marriage documentation so that the new bride could apply for residency in Panama as the legal wife of a non-Panamanian but legal resident of Panama. While directly related to the border hopping topic, the primary focus really is marriage outside of Panama, the Registro Civil, and the implications of a non-Panamanian wedding on residency in Panama.

Thus, the Moderator has made a decision to split out those postings and start a new topic. What follows is the split out topic related to marriage documentation. No one did anything wrong, as this is just a natural progression of a train of thought that morphed into a different but related topic.


The original topic is here:

On 3/2/2017 at 7:39 AM, Keith Woolford said:

Anyone considering making a border run to Paso Canoas to clean their Passport might want to hold off for a few days. At the moment there are about 300 Venezuelans stuck there who are being denied re-entry.

http://www.tvn-2.com/nacionales/extranjeros-denuncian-migratorio-reingresar-Panama_0_4701279858.html

And the new topic starts here:


The decision for me and my new bride comes down to how much of a battle we wish to fight vs the ultimate benefits.   One of the many lawyers we visited stated we should just get married again in Panama before we leave in April.  I quickly pointed out that this would mean forging documents to say we are both single when in fact we are not... the lawyer saw no problem with it.   I am a person with both persistence and patience.  I am also forthright and honest.  I will not try to game the system and if that is what is required,  We will move on despite my desires and the life built here in Panama over the last 8 years.

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2 hours ago, Twin Wolf Technology Group said:

The decision for me and my new bride comes down to how much of a battle we wish to fight vs the ultimate benefits.   One of the many lawyers we visited stated we should just get married again in Panama before we leave in April.  I quickly pointed out that this would mean forging documents to say we are both single when in fact we are not... the lawyer saw no problem with it.   I am a person with both persistence and patience.  I am also forthright and honest.  I will not try to game the system and if that is what is required,  We will move on despite my desires and the life built here in Panama over the last 8 years.

Can't you just register your Colombian marriage certificate with the National Registry in Panama, Dan?  No need to redo a ceremony, besides most countries are signatory to the marriage agreement that is binding regardless of which country the marriage took place.

How did you get married in Colombia if you are both not single?  That part confuses me. Also the visas for Colombia and Panama would be to get permanent residence in both countries?  I don't believe that would work since you should have a permanent residence only in one place.  No wonder the immigration stuff is so tangled. I still have a headache from the hoops of getting Nena's sister her green card in the USA.

jim

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JimnNena

Read my post 3 up from yours.  Where it says we are "single" on our E Cedula is normal and common in Panama.  In order for the country to recognize you are certifiably married you have to go to an attorney, submit to that attorney an apostilled certification of marriage, then have your attorney submit that and the application for process.  Cost $500  Time? well we are still waiting and it's been 8 months or so

Brundageba

Edited by Brundageba
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To clarify - yes we were both single when we got married.   We had a choice of getting married in the US, in Colombia or in Panama.   Colombia was the easiest, least expensive and least complicated as far as paperwork.   When it comes to a resident visa in Panama, the marriage is only important in the fact that it is needed to prove that my Panama company (Friendly Nations Visa via my Panama S.A.)  is what is providing the income.   Neither of us are pensionados and she does not qualify for any other type of visa.

My point was that in order to get the paperwork to prove our marriage in Colombia, we would need to go to Colombia to get it and upon returning they will not let her enter the country.  So the lawyer suggested that if we could not return with the paperwork, then we should essentially lie to Panama and get married here again as if we were single.   This goes to my point that yet another so called reputable lawyer's  answer is for us it to lie and create false paperwork to get around what should be a simple trip to get proof of marriage.   This is the system here.   Lie, cheat, get around the rules and play the game.   I did it before for 5 years because I was naive.   I am smart enough now to know that Panama is going to keep changing the rules with new decrees.   What the Panama and the lawyer tell me today will not be what the facts tomorrow.   

Admittedly we are in an unusual situation. Looking at her passport it appears she has been border hopping for the last year.  In fact we were merely dating and travelling between the two countries until we finally got married a few months ago.   The lawyer had no answer when I asked what the difference was between visiting often and border hopping.  Everything we did for the last year was legal and within the laws, rules and decrees at that time.  Our  visits were always in one country or the other for at least a month length - not a 3 day hop.

Is there a way for us to go thru the system and get her a visa?  Yes.    The cost is estimated at $5,000+ due to various circumstances.   There is no simple way for Panama to look at my residency for the last 8 years and then give her a spousal visa for some additional fee.    On the other hand, Colombia looks at me as her new husband and says I can have spousal visa for about $200 (effective immediately) and then permanent residency and dual citizenship after 3 years.   The process is a few hours long and my passport is updated within a week or two. 

As one lawyer told me - Panama sees the border hoppers as a great deal of money if it can just force them into a visa process.   And I do not disagree that people should be here legally.   I have proudly showed my papers at every checkpoint and admired the country for making sure people were legal.   My complaint is that they are punishing the very people who want to go thru the process, such as my wife.

Don't get me wrong, I love my life here and I have fought hard to be here legally.   As I said in my original post, I am raising the white flag.   I have lived here and been a supporting member of the community.   I have employed dozens of Panamanians and given to the country in many ways.   I have changed as Panama evolved and sought to always be honest and forthright.   Panama is asking too much. The lawyer sharks are circling ready to lie and cheat with promises of a simple visa that is just a mirage.   I think I will swim somewhere else, thanks...   

Edited by Twin Wolf Technology Group
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3 hours ago, Twin Wolf Technology Group said:

 One of the many lawyers we visited stated we should just get married again in Panama before we leave in April.  I quickly pointed out that this would mean forging documents to say we are both single when in fact we are not... the lawyer saw no problem with it.  

Isn't the problem, though, that Panama does not recognize the legality of the marriage?  It's similar to the time when most states in the USA did not recognize the legality of a gay marriage that was lawfully performed in one that did.  It seems to me that under Panamanian law, you ARE single, and it's not dishonest of you to say that you are.  All you are conceding is AS TO PANAMA ONLY, you are single!

I don't think Panama recognizes my marriage, either.  My wife and I applied jointly to acquire our visas, but I'm pretty sure obtaining them didn't register our marriage.  That could be a problem if any of my estate is subject to Panamanian probate. 

Don't tell my wife that I think I am single here in Panama, please.

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7 minutes ago, Twin Wolf Technology Group said:

Interesting point Doug... had not thought about it like that.   Like everything in life, it is all about perspective!

I don't have a clue what absolute truth on this is, but I do know several couples who have remarried in Panama to have their marriage legally recognized.  Good luck!

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15 minutes ago, Woody said:

I don't have a clue what absolute truth on this is, but I do know several couples who have remarried in Panama to have their marriage legally recognized.  Good luck!

Was this because it's a shorter wait time for a marriage that takes place in Panama to be registered over one that took place in a foreign country? 

From what I understand even if they get remarried here there would still be some wait time until the marriage is registered at the "Registro Civil"

And they would need it to be registered before they could apply for her residency if doing so by marriage. 

Edited by SP87
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4 hours ago, Twin Wolf Technology Group said:

My point was that in order to get the paperwork to prove our marriage in Colombia, we would need to go to Colombia to get it and upon returning they will not let her enter the country.  So the lawyer suggested that if we could not return with the paperwork, then we should essentially lie to Panama and get married here again as if we were single.   This goes to my point that yet another so called reputable lawyer's  answer is for us it to lie and create false paperwork to get around what should be a simple trip to get proof of marriage.   This is the system here.   Lie, cheat, get around the rules and play the game.   I did it before for 5 years because I was naive.   I am smart enough now to know that Panama is going to keep changing the rules with new decrees.   What the Panama and the lawyer tell me today will not be what the facts tomorrow.   

<SNIP>

Is there a way for us to go thru the system and get her a visa?  Yes.    The cost is estimated at $5,000+ due to various circumstances.   There is no simple way for Panama to look at my residency for the last 8 years and then give her a spousal visa for some additional fee.    On the other hand, Colombia looks at me as her new husband and says I can have spousal visa for about $200 (effective immediately) and then permanent residency and dual citizenship after 3 years.   The process is a few hours long and my passport is updated within a week or two.

All that should be required would be to get a certified copy of the marriage license registered in Colombia, present it to the National Registry of Panama to be recorded and that should be enough.  I'm sure the tangle of laws has increased in the last two score and seven years, but that is how we handled our marriage in the Canal Zone. We married on 28 December, recorded the marriage license in Balboa at the then U.S. federal district court on 5 January, then registered that license in Spanish at the National Registry on 28 January. Cost at the National Registry was B/. 3.05.  Of course, in order to get permission from the military/U.S. government to marry a foreigner took a half ton of paperwork and hundreds of B/. 2.00 timbres.  Also had to make 6 copies of all the paperwork; I still have 5 copies...

jim

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4 hours ago, Twin Wolf Technology Group said:

To clarify - yes we were both single when we got married.   We had a choice of getting married in the US, in Colombia or in Panama.   Colombia was the easiest, least expensive and least complicated as far as paperwork.   When it comes to a resident visa in Panama, the marriage is only important in the fact that it is needed to prove that my Panama company (Friendly Nations Visa via my Panama S.A.)  is what is providing the income.   Neither of us are pensionados and she does not qualify for any other type of visa.

My point was that in order to get the paperwork to prove our marriage in Colombia, we would need to go to Colombia to get it and upon returning they will not let her enter the country.  So the lawyer suggested that if we could not return with the paperwork, then we should essentially lie to Panama and get married here again as if we were single.   This goes to my point that yet another so called reputable lawyer's  answer is for us it to lie and create false paperwork to get around what should be a simple trip to get proof of marriage.   This is the system here.   Lie, cheat, get around the rules and play the game.   I did it before for 5 years because I was naive.   I am smart enough now to know that Panama is going to keep changing the rules with new decrees.   What the Panama and the lawyer tell me today will not be what the facts tomorrow.   

Admittedly we are in an unusual situation. Looking at her passport it appears she has been border hopping for the last year.  In fact we were merely dating and travelling between the two countries until we finally got married a few months ago.   The lawyer had no answer when I asked what the difference was between visiting often and border hopping.  Everything we did for the last year was legal and within the laws, rules and decrees at that time.  Our  visits were always in one country or the other for at least a month length - not a 3 day hop.

Is there a way for us to go thru the system and get her a visa?  Yes.    The cost is estimated at $5,000+ due to various circumstances.   There is no simple way for Panama to look at my residency for the last 8 years and then give her a spousal visa for some additional fee.    On the other hand, Colombia looks at me as her new husband and says I can have spousal visa for about $200 (effective immediately) and then permanent residency and dual citizenship after 3 years.   The process is a few hours long and my passport is updated within a week or two. 

As one lawyer told me - Panama sees the border hoppers as a great deal of money if it can just force them into a visa process.   And I do not disagree that people should be here legally.   I have proudly showed my papers at every checkpoint and admired the country for making sure people were legal.   My complaint is that they are punishing the very people who want to go thru the process, such as my wife.

Don't get me wrong, I love my life here and I have fought hard to be here legally.   As I said in my original post, I am raising the white flag.   I have lived here and been a supporting member of the community.   I have employed dozens of Panamanians and given to the country in many ways.   I have changed as Panama evolved and sought to always be honest and forthright.   Panama is asking too much. The lawyer sharks are circling ready to lie and cheat with promises of a simple visa that is just a mirage.   I think I will swim somewhere else, thanks...   

Good.  It is the best thing you can do.   I am sure you will find better places to live.

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4 hours ago, Brundageba said:

JimnNena

Read my post 3 up from yours.  Where it says we are "single" on our E Cedula is normal and common in Panama.  In order for the country to recognize you are certifiably married you have to go to an attorney, submit to that attorney an apostilled certification of marriage, then have your attorney submit that and the application for process.  Cost $500  Time? well we are still waiting and it's been 8 months or so

Brundageba

I dont know but I think that most of that kind of paperwork could be done without the need of a lawyer.  

Most people in Panama doesnt have enough money and we do it as much as possible without using a lawyer for simple paperwork.

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Marcelyn and I were married in the USA, but were successful in getting our US wedding documentation recognized in the Registro Civil here in Panama. There was a tangential comment to this effect in a separate posting here on CL at http://www.chiriqui.life/topic/1921-question-about-attorney-fees/?do=findComment&comment=6072.

We did not provide many details about that process, but would be willing to elaborate if there is interest.

Be advised that we seriously considered "getting re-married" here in Panama, but decided against it for some of the same reasons that Dan mentioned. We did not want to lie about not being married, and, yes, we do understand the distinction about not being married in Panama while being married in the USA. We are glad that we did things the way we did. The process did take a long time, however, but only because of administrative (read "paperwork") snafus.

BTW, our primary motivation for getting our US marriage recognized and legally documented in Panama was related to a person being able to make legally binding decisions for a spouse who is incapacitated by accident or natural causes.

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3 hours ago, Bud said:

Marcelyn and I were married in the USA, but were successful in getting our US wedding documentation recognized in the Registro Civil here in Panama. There was a tangential comment to this effect in a separate posting here on CL at http://www.chiriqui.life/topic/1921-question-about-attorney-fees/?do=findComment&comment=6072.

We did not provide many details about that process, but would be willing to elaborate if there is interest.

Be advised that we seriously considered "getting re-married" here in Panama, but decided against it for some of the same reasons that Dan mentioned. We did not want to lie about not being married, and, yes, we do understand the distinction about not being married in Panama while being married in the USA. We are glad that we did things the way we did. The process did take a long time, however, but only because of administrative (read "paperwork") snafus.

BTW, our primary motivation for getting our US marriage recognized and legally documented in Panama was related to a person being able to make legally binding decisions for a spouse who is incapacitated by accident or natural causes.

This was exactly how we did it, Bud. Since the Canal Zone was U.S. territory, our marriage was a matter of federal record unlike in the states where it is a state record.  Recording our marriage license at the National Registry was extremely easy, we presented the document and had it added to Panama's records. No lawyers or other professionals involved.  I know of folks who have gotten divorced in Panama who had the decree registered in the state in the U.S. where the marriage is recorded just to close all the legal loops in both countries.  Having legal issues spread between two countries is tedious but getting the details recorded in both places clears a lot of confusion.

jim

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4 hours ago, Bud said:

Marcelyn and I were married in the USA, but were successful in getting our US wedding documentation recognized in the Registro Civil here in Panama. There was a tangential comment to this effect in a separate posting here on CL at http://www.chiriqui.life/topic/1921-question-about-attorney-fees/?do=findComment&comment=6072.

We did not provide many details about that process, but would be willing to elaborate if there is interest.

Be advised that we seriously considered "getting re-married" here in Panama, but decided against it for some of the same reasons that Dan mentioned. We did not want to lie about not being married, and, yes, we do understand the distinction about not being married in Panama while being married in the USA. We are glad that we did things the way we did. The process did take a long time, however, but only because of administrative (read "paperwork") snafus.

BTW, our primary motivation for getting our US marriage recognized and legally documented in Panama was related to a person being able to make legally binding decisions for a spouse who is incapacitated by accident or natural causes.

Bud, I don't know what your attorney advised you, but I was told by mine that being married does not entitle a spouse to make legally binding decisions for the other spouse in case of medical emergency. We were advised that a "living will" executed by a Panamanian attorney in Spanish is the only way to accomplish this. I have a very good lawyer who has never let me down. I believe in his advice, too, because when I exercised my husband's living will it was scrutinized by the doctor and the hospital's attorney. There's no way they would have allowed me to make the decision to withdraw life support in the absence of the will.

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22 hours ago, Roger B said:

I dont know but I think that most of that kind of paperwork could be done without the need of a lawyer.  

Most people in Panama doesnt have enough money and we do it as much as possible without using a lawyer for simple paperwork.

Sure would be cheaper!  47 yr ago when Bill and I got married I know the license and the fee for the minister was waaaay less than the $500 the attorney is asking for Proof of Marriage Certification here. You are right Roger.  In the future I will certainly be a bit wiser....like ask what the fee is first...before proceeding !

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On 12/03/2017 at 2:36 PM, Twin Wolf Technology Group said:

To clarify - yes we were both single when we got married.   We had a choice of getting married in the US, in Colombia or in Panama.   Colombia was the easiest, least expensive and least complicated as far as paperwork.   When it comes to a resident visa in Panama, the marriage is only important in the fact that it is needed to prove that my Panama company (Friendly Nations Visa via my Panama S.A.)  is what is providing the income.   Neither of us are pensionados and she does not qualify for any other type of visa.

My point was that in order to get the paperwork to prove our marriage in Colombia, we would need to go to Colombia to get it and upon returning they will not let her enter the country.  So the lawyer suggested that if we could not return with the paperwork, then we should essentially lie to Panama and get married here again as if we were single.   This goes to my point that yet another so called reputable lawyer's  answer is for us it to lie and create false paperwork to get around what should be a simple trip to get proof of marriage.   This is the system here.   Lie, cheat, get around the rules and play the game.   I did it before for 5 years because I was naive.   I am smart enough now to know that Panama is going to keep changing the rules with new decrees.   What the Panama and the lawyer tell me today will not be what the facts tomorrow.   

Admittedly we are in an unusual situation. Looking at her passport it appears she has been border hopping for the last year.  In fact we were merely dating and travelling between the two countries until we finally got married a few months ago.   The lawyer had no answer when I asked what the difference was between visiting often and border hopping.  Everything we did for the last year was legal and within the laws, rules and decrees at that time.  Our  visits were always in one country or the other for at least a month length - not a 3 day hop.

Is there a way for us to go thru the system and get her a visa?  Yes.    The cost is estimated at $5,000+ due to various circumstances.   There is no simple way for Panama to look at my residency for the last 8 years and then give her a spousal visa for some additional fee.    On the other hand, Colombia looks at me as her new husband and says I can have spousal visa for about $200 (effective immediately) and then permanent residency and dual citizenship after 3 years.   The process is a few hours long and my passport is updated within a week or two. 

As one lawyer told me - Panama sees the border hoppers as a great deal of money if it can just force them into a visa process.   And I do not disagree that people should be here legally.   I have proudly showed my papers at every checkpoint and admired the country for making sure people were legal.   My complaint is that they are punishing the very people who want to go thru the process, such as my wife.

Don't get me wrong, I love my life here and I have fought hard to be here legally.   As I said in my original post, I am raising the white flag.   I have lived here and been a supporting member of the community.   I have employed dozens of Panamanians and given to the country in many ways.   I have changed as Panama evolved and sought to always be honest and forthright.   Panama is asking too much. The lawyer sharks are circling ready to lie and cheat with promises of a simple visa that is just a mirage.   I think I will swim somewhere else, thanks...   

I know how you feel.

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I was told to send my south african marriage  certificate  to Zimbabwe to be apostiled  as South Africa does not apostil documents. .Great idea.!!!!

would you send your original marriage  certificate  to Zimbabwe. ????

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7 hours ago, Rooikop said:

I was told to send my south african marriage  certificate  to Zimbabwe to be apostiled  as South Africa does not apostil documents. .Great idea.!!!!

would you send your original marriage  certificate  to Zimbabwe. ????

I am not an attorney, but this sounds bogus to me. It is my understanding of The Hague Convention that addresses apostilling of documents that only the designated authority (typically known as a secretary of state) over the issuance of vital records documents can apostille said document. For a secretary of state of a different country/state to apostille a document would, most likely, NOT be recognized, and technically speaking would be contrary to The Hague Convention protocols.

So no, I would not recommend doing the Zimbabwe thing.

As a side comment, Steven, it sounds as if you two travel even more extensively than we do. That is a lot. Good on you. :) We call such worldly travelers "international citizens" because it gives one a different perspective on how things are on a much broader perspective. I recall one former school mate when I went to a high school reunion; he had never traveled outside of the county where my high school was located. His breadth of conversational topics was quite narrow, focusing on the selection of food at the local Burger King and the highest score of his recent bowling tournament. Not wanting to be judgmental here, but that seemed so sad to me.

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don't worry  I won't send it to Zimbabwe.

Yes we have always been travellers and enjoyed it up to now.

.we will see what happens in the next few days,  but we are running out of time and money.and we might be on the move again. 

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3 minutes ago, Rooikop said:

don't worry  I won't send it to Zimbabwe.

Yes we have always been travellers and enjoyed it up to now.

.we will see what happens in the next few days,  but we are running out of time and money.and we might be on the move again. 

Hmmm, South Africa IS an apostille member and Zimbabwe is not on the list.  Ten seconds on a web search turned up this:

http://www.internationalapostille.com/hague-apostille-member-countries/

Sounds like being in the wash cycle with the laundry!  Best of luck in getting out of a bad situation!

jim

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Yes I see that.ten years agowhen we applied in David we sent our papers off the lawyer Who told us it could not be done and send it to Zimbabwe. interestingly we met the honorary consul  here  in Panana and  they certified it.which was acceptable.But we couldn't get police cerificates from Indonesia.New Zealand and Australia yes but there was a break in the paperwork  and it was Indonesia.we have had so much conflicting advice and spent so much money on trying to get thing's done.it's not funny.

also I have just checked and they would not have been able to apostil it anyway.

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On 3/13/2017 at 4:30 PM, Brundageba said:

Sure would be cheaper!  47 yr ago when Bill and I got married I know the license and the fee for the minister was waaaay less than the $500 the attorney is asking for Proof of Marriage Certification here. You are right Roger.  In the future I will certainly be a bit wiser....like ask what the fee is first...before proceeding !

I said it before and I'll say it again.  My attorney said we certainly did not have to register our marriage in Panama.  In fact, he said that was ridiculous that someone would tell us we did.  The apostilled marriage license was part of the Pensionado documentation, and that was sufficient.  I was never denied in any hospital access to my husband in ICU or questioned about my marital status when it came to his medical treatment.  All they cared about is if I could pay.  I think that marriage registration exercise is a waste of time and money unless there is some very special circumstance.  The need for a living will, however, is right.  Do that.

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You will never get the massive number of lawyers to give the same information since it is to their own self interest to give or exclude certain information.   What is a shame is that the government could very easily solve the confusion by having a single website or set of sites that stated the information factually.   Of course enforcement of the rules is another matter all together.   The law says one thing, the decree says another and enforcement seems to be independent of either.   Having a resource that the common man could access would help protect against unscrupulous lawyers.

In my case, after stating on this site that I was giving up, a lawyer came forward and suggested that it was a simple matter for us to get my wife a "family reunification" visa or "dependent" visa based on our marriage.   No other lawyer had offered this and I found almost no mention of it on Panama's migration and government websites.   The lawyers only offered me various other paths for her to become part of my Friendly Nations visa and quoted prices of $5,000+   Now, whether or not this family reunification visa is in fact available to us, and at the quoted price of $1,050, remains to be seen.   This goes to the point that there does not appear to be a single authoritative source to list all of visas that are available along with their requirements.   There are many websites that list a few common ones, often out of date, yet no authoritative one that I have been able to find.  I like to be well armed before approaching a lawyer so I can discuss things intelligently.   After all, it's Panama.   The only one looking out for us, is us.

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