August 9, 2013 |

permanet-residency-panama-600x399From the Panama Guide forthcoming in August, 2013:

In the past year Panama has become the easiest nation in the world to obtain permanent residency.

Here is a summary of the four best immigration visas to relocate your family to Panama.

1. Friendly Nations Visa: Citizens from any of the 48 nations considered “friendly” with Panama can relocate here and obtain the quickest permanent residency visa. To qualify, the friendly foreigner must either purchase an existing Panama business or start a new business here or be hired to work as a “professional” for a Panama professional services company.

The 48 friendly nations are: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein,  Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Marino, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United States of America, Uruguay, United Kingdom (Great Britain & Northern Ireland).

A big difference from all of the other immigration visas is that the Friendly Nations Visa has a lower solvency requirement. An applicant needs to only show ownership of $5,000 USD.

Another Executive Decree ordered the Ministry of Labor to fast track Work Permits for these “professional” employees.

2.  Panama Retired or Pensioner Visa: Retired people and those over 18 years old with lifetime pensions or annuities of at least $1,000 USD per month qualify. An additional $250 must be received every month for each dependent. The pension or annuity can come from government agencies, military, banks, corporations, an insurance company, private company, or a Trust. This residency program offers many discounts from restaurants, pharmacies, movie theaters, hotels, concerts, and domestic airlines amongst others.

Note:  The above two are the only ones granting immediate permanent residency. The ones below require a two year provisional temporary residency period before being able to apply for permanent residency.

3. Panama Reforestation Investor Visa: Invest a minimum of $80,000 USD in a government certified reforestation project by buying at least five hectares (12.35 acres) of titled land with an additional investment of $2,000 for each dependent. An individual or a Panama corporation can buy the required hectares. There are many government certified reforestation projects in Panama to choose from.

Reforestation is the process of growing trees (teak and mahogany are the most popular in Panama) and replanting after they are cut down and harvested.  It takes 20 years for a tree to mature for harvesting with a thinning down process every 6, 12 and 16 years which produces commercial wood for sale. After harvesting the land is replanted with new trees and resold to existing or new investors.

Profitability: Besides obtaining legal residency and citizenship a reforestation investment is profitable. At just an average of 2% yearly increase in teak market prices, the $80,000 initial investment can bring a return of $370,586 in 20 years. That’s a return of 460% in 20 years or an annual average of 23%. That’s not bad when compared to the current stock market. According to Standard & Poor’s the average S&P 500 Index only averaged 7.33% annually from 1990 to 2008.

4. Panama Self Economic Solvency Residency: Three options exist to qualify for this permanent residency created to attract wealthy foreigners:

a) Deposit at least $300,000 USD in a three year Panama bank CD. An additional $2,000 deposit is required for each dependent.

b) Invest at least $300,000 USD equity in any Panama real estate with an additional $2,000 USD for each dependent.

c) Combine the first two options by making an investment in both Panama real estate and a Panama bank CD where the equity and cash total at least $300,000 USD (or foreign currency equivalent). An additional $2,000 USD must be invested for each dependent.

Panama Citizenship is offered by three of the above mentioned visas after being a permanent resident for five years: Friendly Nations Visa, Reforestation Visa, and the Economic Solvency Visa.

Since this is only a summary, consult with our English speaking immigration department to learn more details regarding any of these four permanent visas.