|President .Juan Carlos Varela|
Pursuant to a decree* recently executed by the President of Panama, foreign nationals applying for resident or pensioner (retiree) visas will now have a shorter window of time, in which to stay in-country, while awaiting approval, because their visas have now been reduced to only six months, from the previous year. Tourist visas are being reduced to three months, effectively doubling the amount of times each year that foreign nationals will be flying out and back in, to renew.
Though the ruling was ostensibly enacted due to shorter wait times for application processing, in effect it requires expats who game the system to leave Panama twice a year, to obtain a new tourist visa. Chronic abusers of the tourist visa, who might not be able to qualify for a resident visa, such as financial criminals who prey on retired foreigners, may find themselves identified, targeted and possibly excluded, due to their repeated appearances at Immigration. Remember, Panama now uses a US-supplied database, at the airport, enabling it to spot fugitives, and those who should be denied entry as unsuitable, due to criminal history.
Some will argue that the shorter tourist visa validity period makes it more difficult for foreign nationals who must spend a substantial amount of time in Panama, for business reasons, but are unwilling or unable to obtain a resident visa.The will be required to leave the country every 90 days, only to obtain a new visa, and each time, they are subject to scrutiny by Panamanian authorities. Given the increase in Anti-American sentiment manifesting itself in the Republic of Panama of late, I would not want to be subjecting myself to hard looks, and possible exclusion, four times a year. Do you think the Panamanians want the gringos to move away ?
* Gaceta Official Digital, 10/1/17, Decreto Ejecutivo No. 590, Ministerio de Seguridad Publica.