A Comprehensive Guide to Work Permits and Visas in Panama

Panama has become an attractive destination for foreigners seeking new work opportunities and a promising business climate. Before making the move, it is essential to understand the various options available for working in Panama as a foreigner, including work permits and visas. Many entrepreneurial-minded individuals are also opting to start businesses in Panama, thanks to the favorable and growing business environment.

There are 11 different ways for foreigners to obtain work permits in Panama. Each option serves specific purposes and caters to various employment scenarios. Let’s explore these avenues.

Limited Foreign Employment

Panamanian companies can employ up to 10% foreign workers, as long as they are paid a minimum of $850 per month and the employment period does not exceed six years.

Company-Specific Approval

Companies can apply for an exemption to hire foreign workers exceeding the 10% quota, provided the employees are paid a minimum of $850 per month and the stay duration is limited to six years.

Temporary Visitor Visa (Marrakech Treaty)

Temporary workers can obtain a visa under the Marrakech Treaty, which allows them to reside in Panama for up to five years. This visa is available for companies with 3 to 10 employees, with the sole foreign worker earning a minimum of $1,000 monthly.

City of Knowledge Work Visa Program

Foreign investors who own companies within the City of Knowledge can obtain five special work permits for their foreign employees, lasting up to six years. This visa is open to businessmen, researchers, professors, students, and technicians.

Spousal Visa

Foreigners who marry Panamanian citizens can apply for a work permit in Panama.

Panama Specialist Workers Visa

This new visa allows for a maximum stay of nine months and is designed for temporary specialist positions. Specific rules and regulations define qualifying job titles or functions.

Cultural, Sports, or Educational Visa

Companies can hire foreigners for specific cultural, technical, musical, artistic, sports, educational, professional, or scientific work for a non-extendable period of three months.

Domestic Workers Visa

Panamanian citizens or residents can hire foreigners as domestic workers for a term of one year, renewable up to four times, covering positions like maids, cooks, chauffeurs, gardeners, nannies, and butlers.

Short Stay Visas

This visa allows for up to nine months stay and is suitable for establishing business subsidiaries, conducting research, analyzing investment possibilities, or working in specific designated areas.

Temporary Residency Work Permit

Foreigners can live and work in Panama for six years as employees of the government, semi-autonomous companies, or international agencies, among others.

Special Temporary Residency For Special Reasons

This visa provides six years of temporary residency for employees in the film or audiovisual industry, Panama Canal workers, Panama-Pacifico Special Economic Area workers, and more.






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