Thursday, October 18, 2007

Small Business Investor Visa: only for the "people person"

Wow! Open up a Panama corporation for the price of a car and get a resident visa! Sounds good? Too good... just read the fine print. This visa is for you only if you want to have labor headaches with local workers ...

Visa of Immigrant and Permission of Residence granting status as a micro business Investor. KEY: VIPEM.

Who may apply to this immigrant visa?

The foreigner who wishes to establish its residence in the Republic of Panama, immigrating with an investor’s status and whom by the amount of the investment qualifies as a micro enterprise investor. The investment to be made must be direct in the company that is constituted, and with a minimum share capital of Forty Thousand Balboas (B/. 40.000) and up to a maximum of One hundred Fifty Thousand Balboas (B/. 150,000). The foreigner must be the shareholder and dignitary of the company, which in addition, must have an initial list of three (3) Panamanian workers, working fulltime and earning a wage not inferior than the minimum established by Law for each region of the country, specifying the position or activity that each one performs.

The company must register its employees in the Social Security System, thus complying with the legal obligations in respect to the social issues. It is important that the foreign investor considers that at the time of asking for the visa extension, after exceeding the provisional permission that is issued with Immigrant’s Visa, he/she will have to prove that it has fulfilled the commitment to contract Panamanian personnel and to be up-to-date in the payment of the obligations towards the Social Security.

The foreigner who applies to this visa must be the holder of the shares that show a minimum investment of Forty Thousand Balboas (B/. 40.000,00).

When the Immigrant’s visa is approved, the foreigner receives a residency permit for one year and when the same is coming to conclusion, the petitioner must ask an extension every year until three (3) consecutive years. At the due time of the third extension, the petitioner will be able to ask for the definitive permanence, with right to a Panamanian Cedula (I.D. Card). This adds up to five (5) requests.

Only a single foreigner and its dependents will be admitted by corporation, and the attempt of violation or the violation of this requirement will amount to the consequence of the refusal of the request, and the obligation to leave the country. The activities to which the company is dedicated must be expressed in the license or the commercial registry.

Processing time frame: 3 to 4 months to obtain Visa de Immigrant’s (document granted for a year).


  • All foreign citizens, that approaches the Directorate of Immigration to perform any procedure, must be previously registered in the Migratory Movement’s Section, whereto has to fulfil the following requirements:
    1. Present two (2) carnet size photos
    2. Present a copy of the page of the passport that containing the general information about him or (her) and copy of the page that shows the seal of the last entry to our country.
    3. Payment of the registration fee.
    4. Complete the register form of the Sworn Statement

  • All documents issued abroad, must be properly annotated or authenticated by the Republic of Panama Embassy or Consulate at the country that issued them, and by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Panama.

  • All documents issued abroad that are not written in the Spanish Language, must be translated by an Official Public Translator certified by the Ministry of Government and Justice.

  • All foreign residents, temporary visitors or alien citizens present in the country with an application being processed that wishes to go abroad and re-enter the country, requires from the National Directorate of Immigration and Naturalization a MULTIPLE INCOMING VISA BEFORE LEAVING THE COUNTRY. The omission of this procedure will incur a One Hundred Balboa fine (B/100.00).

  • All those nationalities that require a Consulted Visa must present with any request, a VALID VISA CERTIFICATION TO PROCESS A RESIDENCE, issued by the Consulted Visa Department of the National Directorate of Immigration and Naturalization.

  • The Sworn Declaration must be made in the form supplied by the Directorate of Immigration and Naturalization. This form must be signed by the interested party and be completed in full. To furnish false information carries penal and legal responsibilities and the refusal of the requested visa or its cancellation if already granted. Under age foreigners don’t have to complete this form, but parents or tutors must provide the requested information, although not under the gravity of oath.

The documentation must be COMPLETE at the time of presentation, and in the expressed following order. Small documents such as, birth certificates, health certificates, receipts, etc, must be added to a legal size paper and both faces of the abovementioned documents must be clearly seen, in order to be properly received.


At the presentation of the documents, a three month temporary carnet is issued and at the time of the approval of the request, a provisional one year permanent carnet is issued. The costs of the carnets will be paid by the interested party as well as the B/. 10.00 fiscal stamps for those nationalities that require a visa.

  • Power of Attorney and request through a lawyer. (Certified or a Legal Firm. The Power of Attorney must be granted before a Public Notary or personal presented by the visa’s petitioners before the Directorate of Migration and Naturalization (head of family and dependants of legal age. The parent that requests the visa should grant the power of attorney in behalf of the legal under age children). This must include the complete general information of the interested parties, including the complete name and nationality of the parents. Also, the lawyer’s general information must be specified (office’s address, telephone number, e-mail address). Within the petition, as well as all the general information of the principal and the empowered, the complete information of the attached checks must be specified (check number, drawing bank’s name, date and amount). All the attached supporting documents must be identified and listed, and quote the facts and legal fundaments that sustain the request.
  • The power of attorney, as well as the request must be stamp or seal with B/4.00 per page. ]
  • Certified or cashiers check in the amount of B/ 100.00 in favour of the “Tesoro Nacional” (National Treasury).
  • Medical Certificate of Good Health [: issued within the three (3) months prior to the presentation date (it must have date, signature and seal with the doctor’s name, including the code and registration number of the physician. ]
  • Penal and police record issued by the previous country of residence of the petitioner within the last two years, ( if the interested party has been in Panama for the last two or more years on a consecutive time, this document will not be necessary).
  • Passport issued by the country of origin [ .. with a minimum of six months validity time]
    Complete copy of passport
  • Two (2) carnet size photos [..updated (no hats or veils and front face)
  • Certificate of Juridical Person issued by the Public Registry, that confirms the following: the corporate name of the company, the directors and dignitaries of the company, the name of the legal or empowered representative (if it has one), the issued capital stock of the company (that must be a minimum of B/. 40,000.01), type of shares and the distribution of the capital stock. The petitioner must be the director and dignitary of the company.
  • Certification of the Secretary or Treasurer of the company, where it states the title of the shares issued in favour of the foreign applicant and that the shares are properly released and paid (the shares must be of a minimum value of B/.40,000.01). The certification must be signed before a Public Notary and shouldn’t be subscribed by the interested party.

  • Certification of the corporation’s Certified Public Accountant (CPA), stating the titles of the shares credited to the foreigner petitioner and indicating that those shares are properly released and paid (the shares must be of a minimum value of B/40,000.01) (Attach document certifying the legal capability of the C.P.A.

  • Declaration rendered by the petitioner before a Public Notary, in which the amount of the invested capital is indicated, as well as the amount of the owned shares and that they are released and paid (with a minimum value of B/.40,000.01), it must also mention the detailed commercial activities performed by the company.

    Authenticated copy by the Ministry of Economy and Finance, of the sworn Income tax form along with its payment receipts (only in the case in which the company has been constituted and has operated several months before the date of presentation of the sworn income tax form for the present year). Within the Income tax form (in the equity section, where it mentions shares) the total payment of the shares owned by the foreign petitioner of the visa must be registered (that should be more than B/.40,000.01)

  • If the company is of recent incorporation, the application must include a copy of the paid “Tasa Unica” and the Taxpayer Personal Register (R.U.C.) duly collated by the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

  • Copy authenticated by Caja de Seguro Social (Social Security) of the company’s payroll, which specifies a minimum of (3) three Panamanian employees, earning salaries no lower than the minimum wage established by law according to the region and position. (It must correspond to a payment made during the last months prior to the presentation of the application)
  • Social Security’s goodstanding [ in behalf of the company and with minimum of three (3) months validity.
  • Proof of investment [Can be demonstrated by presenting at least three of the following documents: Real State Buy/Sell Agreement of the place where the company operates or is located. Photocopy of bank’s deposit slip authenticated by the bank, showing the invested amount on behalf of the company, Document issued by a bank certifying that the amount invested by the foreign petitioner comes from abroad. Commercial invoices of the expenses incurred by the investor in favour of the company, along with a detailed inventory certified by a C.P.A; Customs forms that show the paid taxes for imported assets in the name of the company or the investor. Any other document that can prove the capital invested on the company]
  • Proof of location and existence of the company [ ( supply a minimum of three proofs). – Rental agreement of the commercial location, where the headquarter or office of the business operates, dully registered before the Ministry of Housing (in the case it is not an owned place). Electric Energy Sservice Agreement – Phone Sservice Agreement - Water supply agreement – Security services agreement – Garbage services agreement – ITBM tax payment (added value tax) to the Ministry of Economic and Finances – Internet services agreement.
  • Sworn declaration about personal background [ form supplied by the Directorate of Migration and Naturalization
  • Copy of the Commercial Licence [ ..or industrial licence of the business, (It must be type “A” that covers the wholesales commercial activities or industrial licence)
  • Photocopy of the Shares certificates.

Legal Base:
Law Decree No.16 of 30 of June of 1960, Law No.47 of 31 of August of 1999 and Resolution 10,386 of October of 2003, Law No. 8 of March 29 of 2000.

The National Directorate of Immigration and Naturalization has the power to inspect the company to verify its address, existence and function according to the established policies.

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