Panama adopts new investment visa option for foreign nationals

1 Jun 17

PANAMA

IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? Panama has begun allowing foreign nationals to use corporations to make real estate investments in Panama in order to obtain permanent residence.

What does the change mean? Economic Solvency Visas are available to foreign nationals who (1) invest at least $300,000 for at least three years in a certificate of deposit at a licensed Panamanian bank; (2) invest at least $300,000 in a titled property in Panama; or (3) invest a combined total of at least $300,000 in a CD and real estate. Under the new regulations, real estate investments may be made not only personally or through a private foundation, but also through a corporation. The corporation’s shareholders must be the principal applicant and/or his or her dependents.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing. Regulations establishing the new option for obtaining the visas were published in the Official Gazette March 17.
  • Visas/permits affected: Economic Solvency Visas.
  • Who is affected: Foreign investors who are neither employed in Panama nor are starting a business but are capable of supporting themselves financially and meeting the investment criteria listed above, whether they are investing personally, through a private foundation or a corporation.
  • Business impact: The change aims to boost direct investment in Panama.

Background: The visas are available to foreigners who are able to make substantial investments in Panama, as outlined above. Additional investments of $2,000 are required for each dependent whom the principal sponsors. Under previous rules, applicants could either make real estate investments in their own name or in the name of a private interest foundation they control. Applicants may also use a corporation to purchase the property, provided the shareholders are the principal applicant and his or her dependents.

BAL Analysis: The visas provide an expedited path to residency in Panama for foreign investors and their families, and the ability to use corporations to make investments will make obtaining the visas easier for some foreign investors. Those who obtain an Economic Solvency Visa are eligible to apply for citizenship after five years of residence in Panama, though some exceptions may apply based on nationality or if the investor has Panamanian children.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Panama. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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