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Monday, December 17 2018 @ 03:33 AM UTC

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New Poll - Should Lawyers Be Required To Conduct Business At The National Immigration Service in Panama?

Immigration Issues By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - There was a pretty good response in the comments section to this article published yesterday, indicating the government of Panama is considering eliminating the need for lawyers when foreigners conduct business at the National Immigration Service in the Republic of Panama. This is one area where our community of English speaking expatriates can and should have a voice, and an opinion. This poll will run for at least a few weeks, maybe longer. Once there are enough responses, I will forward the results to high ranking officials in the Panamanian government. So - please participate in this new poll:

Bias Alert - Here's What I Think: Everyone who is living in Panama who is not a Panamanian has to deal with the National Immigration Service in one form or another. Those arriving as tourists have the least amount of interaction - just a swipe of the passport at the airport or border crossing - and off you go. Those who wish to obtain permanent residency status have to interact with Immigration on a much deeper level as they work through the procedures to obtain their status through one of the various programs available, among them the Pensionado (Retiree) Visa, married to a Panamanian, person of means, reforestation visa, among others. Many of these programs and procedures require the participation of a Panamanian lawyer, by law. That is to say - you can't do it by yourself - and therefore you are forced to hire a Panamanian lawyer to do this for you. (more)

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Immigration Might Eliminate The Need For Lawyers To File Paperwork

Immigration Issues Due to the constant complaints that have been filed by both attorneys and foreigners against the National Immigration Service, the Immigration Law Committee of the National Bar Association of Panama met and decided to ask the entity to respect law professionals. At the same time they also recognized the efforts being made by Immigration to eradicate corruption in the institution. The Bar Association also welcomes "the reinstatement of the office of internal affairs, and calls to punish the offenders and promoters of malpractice and corruption in the National Immigration Service." However, the Bar Association press release, which was signed by its president Cesar Ruiloba, rejects "those opinions publicly expressed by some officials in the sense" that the lawyers "are responsible for the administrative disorder in this historic institution." Therefore, "we remember that in any possible wrongdoing or incompatibility with the practice of law, there is a legal and moral obligation of officials to file a formal report before the competent authorities, as well as the Ethics Committee of the National Bar Association, about those who commit such acts." "We have reiterated that we are against malicious generalization that aims to justify the elimination of the need for lawyers in the immigration process," the statement added. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: Ah, that's it. The Bar Association does not want Immigration to change the rules, to make it so you don't need a lawyer to file your paperwork. Right now there are several processes that require the intervention of a lawyer in order to file. I would be ALL FOR the elimination of this requirement, as long as the paperwork requirements are clear. The fact of the matter is that there are lawyers who pay bribes in Immigration in order to "get things done" - and everyone knows it. The Bar Association says those acts of corruption should be reported, and that's fine. But I agree with the approach of simply making it so that the damn lawyers are no longer necessary. Let them make their money doing something else.

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Sixteen Illegal Aliens From Nepal Arrested in Panama (Human Trafficking)

Immigration IssuesSixteen illegal immigrants from Nepal were arrested by police officers early this morning in the province of Colon. They were discovered at a checkpoint in Nombre de Dios along the "Upper Coast" of the province of Colon, and were arrested together with four Panamanians who allegedly brought them into the country. The authorities have the undocumented illegal aliens in custody, while the Panamanians are being investigated for human trafficking. The aim is to determine if the suspects are using the shores of the province for this type of activity. (Dia a Dia)

Editor's Comment: Panama is being used as a route for illegal alien smuggling. In recent months Immigration officials have complained about large increases in the numbers of illegal Cuban immigrants, who fly from Cuba to Ecuador, and then pass through Colombia to get to Panama, and eventually to cross the rest of Central America and Mexico to make it into the United States. I doubt these dudes from Nepal had Panama as their final destination. They too were probably going to try to make it into the United States. These types of people pay as much as $40,000 to more to human trafficking organizations who are supposed to get them to their final destinations safely.

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FLASH - New Executive Order Makes It Easier To Obtain Permanent Residency Status in Panama

Immigration IssuesBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Wow. Today Executive Order 343 of 16 May 2012 was published in the Official Gazette, "that creates within the immigration category of Permanent Resident, the sub-category of Permanent Resident in the form of foreign nationals from specific countries that maintain friendly, professional, economic, and investment relationships with the Republic of Panama."

Executive Summary - Short Answer Up Front: The government of Panama has just created an entirely new immigration sub-category to make it easier for citizens from specific countries to obtain Permanent Residency status. Within this status newly qualified permanent residents will be able to exercise professional or economic activities - such as create a business or get a job. I suspect the "hand brake" will be the Ministry of Labor, so if they ever need to in the future they can either shut down or slow down the granting of work permits. But anyway, this is it. This is the big move I have been expecting for years. This is what the government of Panama has decided to do in order to ease their shortage of qualified workers. This move will allow the economy of Panama to keep growing. The text of the Executive Order is full of references to contributing to the growth of the Panamanian economy. Read on, kind folk, because it just got a whole lot easier to move to Panama, and to live here and work here as a Permanent Resident, if you're carrying the right color of passport. (more)

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Immigration Will Be Monitoring The Ferry From Cartagena to Panama

Immigration IssuesThe National Immigration Service will designate officials to work aboard the new ferry that will link Panama to Cartagena. A source from the within Immigration said they have deployed a group of inspectors who will check and verify the immigration documents of travelers aboard the ship. The source said Immigration has also hired 100 new staff inspectors who will be deployed to areas where more personnel are needed. The ferry will make three trips per week between Panama and Cartagena. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: I expect this new ferry service will become the method of choice for perpetual tourists to renew their immigration status in Panama. A round trip ticket will cost $99 dollars, and there will be another $95 dollars in port fees and taxes, for a total of $194 - still less than half the cost of flying. There will be three round-trips between Panama and Cartagena per week. The ferry will travel mostly at night, leaving at about 6:00 pm from either Colon or Cartagena, and arriving at about 6:00 am. The company operating this service will be providing a bus service from Panama City to the Colon 2000 port, so you don't have to worry about leaving your car parked and unattended (in Colon). I think this will turn into a sort of "party boat" with people making the trip just to have a good time - and to meet the hundreds of Colombian chicks who are bound to become regulars of this floating hootenanny - it's going to be a "trip" in more ways than one.

Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Costs For Obtaining A Visa To Visit The US Have Increased

Immigration Issues
Costs for obtaining a visa to visit the United States have increased
Costs for obtaining a visa to visit the United States have increased
More increases. Starting today, all persons wishing to travel to the United States must be aware that the cost of visas has increased. This was announced today by the US Vice Counsel Michele Roulbet on the channel 2 TVN morning news broadcast. The increase was from $140 dollars to $160 dollars for all Panamanians who want to travel to the United States. Work visas increased from $150 dollars to $190 dollars. Similarly it was also reported that the process to apply for a visa will change as of 4 May 2012. Those interested knowing more about the new process can access their web site or call center, through which you can pay by credit card, choose the date and time of the interview appointment, and decide where to collect your passport once the visa is issued. (Dia a Dia)
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41 Foreigners Obtain Panamanian Citizenship

Immigration IssuesWith smiling faces and some with tears in their eyes, 41 foreigners acquired Panamanian citizenship today in a swearing-in ceremony held at the mansion of the Governor of the province of Panama. Most of the new citizens sworn in today come from Colombia and China. The remainder came from Costa Rica, Cuba, Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, India and Angola. From Angola was precisely the citizen Angello Michael, married to a Panamanian, they met while studying in Russia. Many came with their family members in Panama. (TVN)
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Foreign Minister "Summons" Cuba and Ecuador Ambassadors To Discuss Illegal Immigration Problems

Immigration IssuesForeign Minister Roberto Henriquez summoned the ambassadors of Cuba (Reinaldo Calviac) and Ecuador (Francisco Arellano) to discuss increasing numbers of illegal Cuban immigrants entering the country through South America. "The situation has reached a point where Panama is taking action," said Henriquez, who explained that the Panamanian authorities are arresting about 70 Cubans per week, who leave their country travel to the United States through Central America. To do this, they leave the island legally traveling to Ecuador, a country that does not required a visa for them to enter. From Colombia and Ecuador they cross through the Darien jungle area to enter Panama, and they pass through Central America prior to reaching the United States. (Critica)
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"One Parent Is Panamanian And The Other Is A Zonian - Can I Get A Cedula?"

Immigration Issues By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Received this morning via email: "Hello Don, Great job running panama guide. I have a questions for you pertaining to obtaining a Panamanian passport. I have been to Panama only few times in my life and would consider making it a home away from home in the future. I am an American citizen born in the USA. Both my parents are naturalized US citizens (for more than 25 years). One parent was born in the Republic of Panama and the other on the canal zone. Would I be eligible to receive a Panamanian passport, cedula,ect. by blood relation of my parents country of birth. If this is possible what are the legal steps that would have to be taken. Any information you would be able to provide would be greatly appreciated. Thanks you. Ricardo."

Editor's Comment: Hi Ricardo, great question. Let me start by saying you should retain the services of an attorney in Panama to handle this kind of thing for you. I would recommend Carlos, Ricardo, and Gonzalo at the Panama Relocation Attorneys for this sort of thing. They handle many immigration cases for the members of the English speaking expatriate community, and they are experts on these issues. So, you should be following the advice given by a qualified Panamanian professional (and, not necessarily the advice provided by me.) Now, with that having been said, my off the cuff impression is, in my opinion, and based on my experience, I believe in your case - yes, you will probably be able to have yourself recognized as a dual citizen of both the United States and Panama, based on the nationalities of your parents. They might not know it, but both of your parents are Panamanian citizens. The Republic of Panama recognizes anyone who was born in the former Canal Zone as Panamanians by birth right. So, your "Zonian" parent can also go through the process of getting a Panamanian passport and cedula, if he or she wants to. But in any case, I believe you should be able to present your parent's documentation to the Panamanian immigration authorities and have yourself recognized as a Panamanian who was born outside of Panama. I think you will be issued a cedula number that starts with "PE" for "Panameño - Extranjero", and a Panamanian passport. Once again, I think. You should have all of this done by a competent and experienced Panamanian lawyer. It should take a few months to get it done, but then after that you're a Pana, baby. Like sancocho? Ever feel an unexplained urge to run around in February yelling "agua, agua"? Yup, it's in your genes. Anyway, good luck, and thanks for the question.

Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Immigration Will Install New Bio-metric Systems

Immigration IssuesThe National Immigration Service maintains controls to prevent the entry of foreigners who are being sought by international authorities, said the director of that state agency, Javier Carrillo on the morning channel 2 TVN news broadcast. Carrillo said the recently installed a new passenger traffic management system at the Tocumen International Airport, that will allow them to know in advance if anyone who is trying to enter the country has a case pending against them with law enforcement agencies, and very soon they will be installing a new biometric system at all airports and ports of entry. This system will allow for the fingerprinting and photographing of visitors for inclusion in a database. Carrillo said that even without this new modern technological equipment, the National Immigration Service returned 322 foreigners to their countries. The Director of Immigration explained the capture of the Canadian Michel Smith, who is wanted for 22 murders, is an achievement for Panama, and that Canada is happy (with the arrest).

Smith was arrested last Friday at Coronado, according to Carrillo, the Canadian entered Panama in March 2009, and they received the alert (from Canada) in October 2009. Canadians can enter the country with passports only, and visas are not required. "His capture was not a coincidence," said Carrillo. According to authorities, Smith belonged to the Hell's Angels gang and the authorities in Canada have been looking for him for three years. His arrest came after a surveillance operation. (TVN)

Editor's Comment: Good. So now Panama is going to install the same type of system used in the United States. When you check in through Immigration upon arrival your fingerprints will be taken, your picture will be taken, and that information will be collected together with your passport swipe, as well as your date and time of arrival. In the case of Michel Smith, if this system had been in place, then the Panamanian authorities would have had all of that data, and they would have known for sure he was still in Panama. And to all of the crooks and criminals who are hiding from something - go .... somewhere ... else. Panama has an excellent track record of (eventually) tracking people down and sending them packing, back to the jurisdiction they are running from.

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