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Panama Guide

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Wednesday, September 19 2018 @ 05:20 PM UTC

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Most Of Foreigners in Panama Are Colombian, Nicaraguan and Venezuelan

Immigration IssuesDuring the current government, the National Immigration Service (SNM) has made 11 naturalization fairs called “Crisol de Razas (Melting Pot).” In these activities, 25,224 foreigners have naturalized, most of them are Colombians, Nicaraguans, Venezuelans and Dominicans, according to data provided by this institution.

In all these meetings, the state has raised over $30 million. Money, says Javier Carrillo, director of SNM, is destined to the presidency of the Republic and the payment of immigration officials across the country.

Between May 27 and June 3, NMS will conduct the eleventh “Crisol de Razas” fair. For this massive event, 12,000 foreigners have made the requests for legalization. (Panama America)

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Immigration Regularization Event

Immigration IssuesFrom May 27 to June 3, another Immigration Regularization event, this was stated today by the National Immigration Service.

Javier Carrillo, director of Immigration, said they will be giving a temporary residence card for two years to foreigners who have a year of being in the country and foreigners who want to regularize their situation for the second time will have their residence renewed for ten provisional years.

Work permits will be granted for two years. Those with a residence card valid for ten years will have to renew their work permits every two years. (Mi Diario)

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Immigration Does Not Know What To Do With Somalis

Immigration Issues70 citizens of Somalia and Bangladesh are being held in the jail of the National Immigration Service, but so far, the Panamanian authorities are not able to determine what to do with them.

The Director of Immigration, Javier Carrillo, expressed his concern about the issue because these people arrived at the country with no passport and they are not certain about what their names are.

Carrillo admitted they do not know what to do with these undocumented immigrants, because Panama does not have embassies or consulates in Somalia and Bangladesh, so there is no way to issue safe-conduct passes for them.

Despite the efforts, the Panamanian authorities fail to prevent human trafficking. In the case of extra-continental foreigners (Somalia, Bangladesh, among other countries) arrive in Colombia and from there they illegally enter Panama. (TVN)

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National Assembly Passed Law 583 Creating New Passport Authority Of Panama

Immigration IssuesToday the National Assembly approved Law 583 creating the new Passport Authority of Panama, with 36 votes in favor.

The Law also received six votes against it and one abstention.

Earlier the Interior Minister, Jorge Ricardo Fábrega appeared before the Committee to explain to Members, the need to create a Passport Authority.

The National Director of Passports, Carmen Bernardez, also supported the explanation of the minister and agreed with the importance of its creation. (Panama America)

Editor's Comment: The administration of Ricardo Martinelli is creating several of these new "authorities" and then naming their directors, people who will be in position for the next seven years, as a ploy to keep at least some of his people of confidence in place no matter what happens in the 2014 general elections.

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More Requirements For The Nicaraguans

Immigration IssuesThe National Immigration Service (SNM) established the new requirements for Nicaraguan citizens to enter Panama through the border posts of Paso Canoas, Río Sereno and Guabito.

The new measures were established in Resolution No. 5237 of April 2nd, which was published yesterday in the Official Gazette No. 27,259.

Nicaraguans that enter Panama through the border posts should submit the original and copy of their passport which will be valid for at least three months, have a visa to enter Costa Rica and provide proof of sufficient funds in an amount not less than $ 500.

This credit can be demonstrated by cash or a credit card account with the statement account reflecting available balance.

Nicaraguan travelers must present land passage to return to their country of origin or residence, while residents in Panama must present their current ID and valid passport with at least three months of validation. (Siglo)

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Panama to Require Spanish Test for All Non Tourist Visas

Immigration Issues By Rodrigo Campos, AFP Writer- Ciudad de Panamá - Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli signed into law Wednesday a controversial measure requiring all visa applicants to pass a Spanish test before receiving residency documents. The new law, which will go into effect when it is published in the government´s Gaceta Oficial early next week, will likely affect thousands of visa applicants who come from non Spanish speaking countries. The new rules require everyone requesting a new or renovated visa, including those already approved for permanent residency status, to pass a state issued test and demonstrate the grammar and speaking abilities equivalent to that of a 5 year old. The test, which is similar to the aptitude test given to preschool children before admittance into elementary school, will be created and administered by the Ministry of Education in cooperation with the Immigration office. The test will be half written and half oral, and will cost $30. Under the new law all applicants for non tourist visas, regardless of country of origin, will be required to pass a Spanish test before being issued their residency permits. The law covers nearly all residency statuses, both permanent and temporary, with the lone exemption being given to foreigners living in Panama under refugee status. Those either failing the test or refusing to take it will have their visa status downgraded to the same regulations given to those carrying a tourist visa.

The new rules come at a time where the Central American country is seeing an influx of foreigners who are moving there for retirement and investment. Proponents of the law say that the new requirement will assure that people who decide to move to the country can assimilate with more ease. Opponents say the law can cripple the real estate and investment market, still recovering from the world recession, by discouraging retirees and investors from moving there. For a complete transcript of the entire law translated into English, please visit http://tinyurl.com/2ht3po.

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Changes To Immigration Rules For Foreign Professionals

Immigration IssuesPanama is one of the countries in the region with the greatest difficulties in hiring, attributed to the growth of the economy and low unemployment.

This has forced the authorities to make certain amendments to the rules on foreign labor.

The most recent changes reduce the amount of time required for professionals to obtain permanent residency from seven to two years.

Yesterday a decree from the Ministry of Security was published in the Official Gazette number 27,250 -A- which gives permanence to foreigners who have been working in Panama for a period of two years. Before, seven years were required.

According to Decree No. 229, repealing sections 4 and 5 of Chapter 1 of Title III of Decree 320 of August 8, 2008 and created the subcategory of permanent resident foreigners for work.

According to the Director of Immigration, Javier Carrillo, the thing is to reduce the amount of time required, and to make the process easier.

This applies to foreign personnel who have been hired by private companies within 10% of the regular staff, and those contracted in technical expertise or within 15% of personnel allowed by law. Carrillo said that the cost of the process is maintained at $ 250 and $ 800.

The law is not only for new hires, but it also applies to those who are now living in Panama and who have been here for more than two years.

The president, Ricardo Martinelli, during the meeting of businessmen from Mesoamerica prior to the meeting of Governors of the Inter-American Development Bank (BID), said - Panama, because of the situation of full employment, is promoting the migration of all latitudes, so that all foreigners who have a profession will be given a visa and a work permit. "Simply put, we need skilled labor," said the president.

He previously had issued a decree in order to relax the rules to attract more professionals. This Decree 343 of May 16, 2012, which allows foreigners from 22 countries, especially in Europe, to obtain permanent residence in the country, only had to demonstrate financial solvency with a minimum account size of $ 5,000 or demonstrate that they have property in Panama.

In such cases the countries were Slovakia, France, Finland, Netherlands, Ireland, Japan, Norway, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Singapore, Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Belgium, Canada, Spain, United States and Sweden.

Business associations have been shown in favor of this law. (Estrella)

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A Network Of "Mules" Bringing Nicaraguans In Through Paso Canoas

Immigration IssuesThe chief of the immigration station in Paso Canoa, Edgar Aparicio, denounced the existence of a network of people dedicated to introducing Nicaraguan citizens into the national territory, under the cover of tourist or sightseeing trips.

Aparicio said at least five of the companies that provide this service are being investigated for bringing these people to Panama under the pretext that they are going to get a job in our country.

"They deceive their countrymen with false promises, they charge a hefty sum of money for the ride and give them 500 dollars to demonstrate financial solvency when they appear before the windows of immigration, and they also give them a return ticket to Nicaragua, as required by the laws of Panama," he said.

The official explained that the members of this network then cancel the plane tickets once the people are in Panama, and they take back the $500 they were given to be able to cross the border to demonstrate financial solvency. (TVN)

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Blackout At The Border Causes Chaos

Immigration IssuesOne hundred tourists were stranded in the community Guabito at the border crossing between Panama and Costa Rica, for more than six hours.

Under the hot sun, hundreds of foreigners waited for electrical power to be restored, so that government officials could perform the necessary procedures respective to their immigration status.

The tourists expressed their discomfort over the inconvenience of having to do the immigration and customs procedures, because these two institutions provide service in the border area, and they do not have an appropriate facility to provide an efficient service to both nationals and foreigners.

"One problem is the delay, and the other is that we are in the open for lack of a roof," said a group of foreigners from Argentina.

We found the chaos created by the two institutions was due to a blackout at the border.

Furthermore, it was observed that, the institutions have an auxiliary electric generator, but they were not using it because they don't have the funds to buy gasoline.

We tried to obtain a statement from the institutions named, but officials did not issue an opinion. (Siglo)

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Immigration Has Approved More Than 9,600 Visas Thus Far This Year

Immigration IssuesThousands of applications for visas have been denied thus far in 2012, according to a news release from the National Immigration Service. From January to October this year there have been a total of 16,388 applications for visas. Of those, 9,608 were approved and 6,780 were rejected. Of the foreigners who requested visas - 5,391 were Colombians, 2,216 were Venezuelans, 1,022 were Dominicans, 931 were Americans (US), 700 were Spanish, and 596 were Italians. The statement reveals that the most frequently requested visas are temporary resident. In 2011, from January to October, the number of visas processed was 2,477 less than during this year. The visas fall into the categories of immigrant, temporary residence, provisional, and permanent. (Siglo)

Editor's Comment: Javier Carrillo has been doing a good job as the Director of Immigration, since he took over after the prior director was fired in a corruption scandal. All of the BS stopped the minute he walked in the door. He has earned some applause.

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