This summary is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered an authoritative guide on how to obtain work authorization in Panama. The intent is to give the reader a general overview of the process only. Procedures and requirements may have changed since the writing of this article. For current and detailed information regarding the topics below, as well as documentary requirements, processing times, post-arrival and departure requirements, penalties for non-compliance, allowances for accompanying family members, and any other information pertaining to your specific needs, please contact your Pro-Link GLOBAL immigration professional.

Overview

BUSINESS VISITOR

Permitted Activities – Business visitors must generally limit their activities to the following:

  • Attending business meetings or discussions;
  • Attending seminars or “fact-finding” meetings.


Type of Business Visas
– Certain nationals may enter Panama without need of a pre-authorized visa (visa-exempt nationals). All other nationals will require a visitor visa for commercial or professional visits.

Basic Requirements

1. Intention of a genuine visit for business and not for paid employment;
2. Valid passport;
3. Evidence that there are no restrictions on his or her traveling to Panama;
4. No intention to permanently reside in Panama;
5. A ticket for onward travel from Panama;
6. Proof of funds;
7. Evidence of place of stay.

Estimated Processing Times – This varies by diplomatic post and country.

Maximum Time On Visa – This visa allows business people to make a short business visit to Panama for up to three months. Visas can be extended in country.

Typical Documents RequiredAll travelers need to present the following documents to officers in immigration clearance:

  • a valid passport or other acceptable travel document in some cases;
  • a valid visa or authority to enter Panama;
  • proof of place of stay in Panama;
  • round airline ticket;
  • proof of funds.


EMPLOYMENT AUTHORIZATION
 

Basic Requirements – There are multiple corporate immigration categories in Panama, depending on the location of company, type of company, type of work and so on.  One of the most common categories for temporary employment in Panama is the temporary visit visa for foreign executives. This is a category for employers to sponsor qualified skilled workers to work as intra-company transferees in Panama on a temporary basis. This visa is applicable for employees in a management position, who are paid at least USD$1000/month by the sending entity.

Process Overview – The process for obtaining a temporary visitor visa for foreign executives involves a four-step process summarized below and is usually completed in-country:

1. Registration (arrival as a business visitor, medical report and registration within 180 days of arrival);
2. Temporary Visit Visa application – the visit visa takes four to six months to process, so in the interim, a 12 month temporary ID will be issued as evidence of legal status;
3. Multiple Entry/Exit Visa (MEV) – Required if the employee needs to travel outside of Panama before the temporary visit visa has been issued;
4. Carnet (residence permit card) application.

Estimated Processing TimeFour to six months. However, since no work permit is required for Temporary Visit Visa holders, work may be performed once the TVV application has been filed.

Validity periods – Temporary visitor visas are generally valid for up to 12 months and can be renewed for the same period of time, as many times as desired.

Family Members – Dependents cannot work without separate work authorization.

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