More From Immigration

This article HERE was published today in La Prensa. It basically says that if a tourist is in Panama for 5 months, they must leave for 30 days before they will be allowed back into Panama. But, if they are close to their 180 day limit, they won’t be allowed back at all.

These are new changes and there is a lot of confusion, of course. The article says a tourist who is here for a brief period and then wants to come back later won’t have a problem. (define brief – a week, a month, 3 months?)  If you are close to 180 days and aren’t allowed back, for how long? months? a year? ever? How close to 180 days is too close?

The feelings I have been hearing from Panamanians is that the people from Venezuela and Colombia are the problem. They work illegally, commit crimes, and deal drugs and Panamanians want something done, and done now! (Of course this is generalization and perception and I don’t know how much, if any is based on facts). Panamanians are very happy about these new regulations that close the “border hop” loophole. But of course, all expat-tourists affected by these changes.

There has been a lot of talk among the expats in the usual forums and discussion groups. How will this affect tourism? the Panamanian economy? Will many leave, and will Panama miss the money they spend here? Myself, I can’t imagine it will be a huge impact. All the homeowners I know are legal. Perpetual tourists generally don’t live in hotels and spend every day doing tourist things. Maybe lawyers will be busier with residency applications? Time will tell, and time will help sort out some of the confusion.

About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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12 Responses to More From Immigration

  1. I just love the last sentence:
    The measure will not affect a tourist who is in Panama for a brief period of time and then re­enters.

    That makes absolutely no sense in comparison to the main part of the article.

    This time next year the Panama government will report “Tourism” down 12% ! Gee, I wonder why that would be?

    They have made it as confusing as possible and a good job they did at that!

    We feel for the folks that are here waiting out the 2 year time period so they do not have to get their FBI report and can get a local police report instead.
    The folks that are within a year or so of being eligible for Social Security as part of the requirement for the Pensionado Visa.
    The folks that can not get their fingers printed due to their age. Prints will not show up. ( I went to the US Ambassadors Town Hall Meeting here in Boquete last week and was surprised to hear there are a lot of seniors with the finger print issue.

    Sure one can get the Friendly Nations Visa..but at twice the cost of the Pensionado Visa!


    • There is something in that says people can get a police report after two years, and then pay the fine for overstaying the visa. But, this would mean you can’t leave to see family or anything else because you couldn’t get back in. Joel’s mom was one who couldn’t get acceptable fingerprints for the FBI. Maybe electronic fingerprints would work better than the old ink ones? I was one who was here for two years as a tourist waiting for my social security to start. It almost seems like they need a waiver program for people with legitimate reasons.


      • Good point:
        “It almost seems like they need a waiver program for people with legitimate reasons.”

        For sure.
        There are far more folks here with legitimate reasons than not. If folks are border hopping for 3 years or longer then that is where the problem is. Then indeed they should get legal or go elsewhere.
        Cracking down on folks here with less than 3 years makes no sense.

        But again as the Ambassador said no US citizens have been denied reentry at Tocuman Airport. Should any citizen have a problem they can call the US Embassy Duty Officer 24/7 for assistance. 317-5000. And all Us Citizens should sign up and be registered with STEP:


        • Even two years would be good. That could cover the people unable to get fingerprints accepted by the FBI, would allow them to get their background checks in Panama. If you have been here long enough to do that but haven’t applied for residency, then maybe you need to move on.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks Kris for the regular updates on these immigration changes. Much appreciated!


  3. jim and nena says:

    Hola Kris,
    I doubt actual tourism will be affected at all. “Resident tourism” was never the idea, it was a loophole in the laws that allowed it to happen; then it was quickly publicized on the expat blogs and became a common practice. The folks that will be hurt most are those expats renting property to resident tourist expats.

    If the laws are considered unjust, then the current crackdown will fix that.

    “The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly”. — Abraham Lincoln


    • There is a difference between a tourist, and someone living here long term by using the loophole. I don’t think the laws are unjust. Panama has a right to vet people who come here to live and if you can’t afford to get residency, you are a potential problem if you can’t take care of yourself and pay your own way. The main problem I see is the background checks by the FBI in the USA. If you can’t get clear enough fingerprints to satisfy them, then what? But, this is a USA problem, not a Panama problem.
      Ha! Good quote though 😀


  4. Joe says:

    All of you immigrants need to rise up and support the Venezuelans!!! You need to congregate and support each other. You need to organize protests/riots to demand the government make amends to the these oppressed people. You know about the situation in that county. They are only in Panama because they are trying to make a better life for themselves and their families. They are in the country legally. How can the government be so insensitive to these people? Are you with them or against them?

    Yea, I thought so. Panama is cracking down on LEGAL immigration. And while the US is trying to crack down on ILLEGAL immigration, you side with the illegals.

    Are you a hypocrite or not? Fight for the Venezuelans if you are not, otherwise you are!!!!


    • I understand that the Venezuelans are having a terrible time. There are people in many parts of the world having an awful time.
      But, first of all, if they are legal there is no problem. Panama is objecting to people living here indefinitely as tourists without ever getting legal residency.
      Second, we are not citizens. We cannot vote. We cannot protest and riot. That is against the law and we would be thrown out of the country.
      I commend you for feeling so passionately about the suffering of the
      Venezuelans. I think though that our only power lies in our influence in our home country. Can we work for change, for compassion and help for refugees in the US or wherever we are from? I am from the US and I am not optimistic at the moment, but I am encouraged by the push back against our current thinking and hope we can increase our aid and empathy for those in need.


    • jim and nena says:

      I have lived with my family in Venezuela. It was a beautiful country and a rare democracy in South America then. The economy was bad but there was work for anyone who wanted it. Then they decided a dictator was a better way forward and we know how that turned out. By then all the people with money had left.
      A few years ago I was in Panama City and all the Panamanians were working on Martinelli’s big projects. All of the waiter, cook, maid, and other service jobs were being done by Venezuelan or Colombian workers; many without papers. Now that Martinelli’s projects are completed, those Panamanian workers are looking for jobs but the business owners don’t want to pay full wages so they keep the foreign workers.
      Resident tourists are a whole different matter. They have money, they are not taking jobs that Panamanians want.

      Regardless, violating the law is wrong. Obeying the laws are what makes civilization work.

      Liked by 1 person

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