Friday, February 15, 2008

30-day visa for US citizens is alive and well

As of February 6, the 30-day visa for US tourists entering the country seems to be alive but ailing. After the anti-gang law which reduced the duration of tourist visas and vehement denials by the tourism czar, our clients report that they have are being told upon entry that their tourist visas have a 30-day duration, but when they show up for the Filiacion registration, Immigration turns them away saying that there is "an understanding" that the visa lasts 90 days. The stamp in the right says it all. Go figure!

Visa agreements between Panama and the US are in 2 exchanges of notes:

Reciprocal agreement for gratis nonimmigrant visas.*
Exchange of notes at Panama March 27 and May 22 and 25, 1956. Entered into force June 1, 1956. 7 UST 905; TIAS 3573; 268 UNTS 333.

Agreement modifying the agreement of March 27 and May 22 and 25, 1956 for gratis nonimmigrant visas.*
Exchange of notes at Panama June 14 and 17, 1971. Entered into force June 17, 1971. 22 UST 815; TIAS 7142; 796 UNTS 353.

NOTE * The status of this agreement is under review.

These exchanges of notes allow for granting of multiple-entry tourist visas of up to 48 months. The US government publication "Treaties in Force" lists them as "under review" but the 1977 Panama Canal Treaties ratified their validity. Their text is available in the UN Treaty Series website or by email from this blog.

The 2008 draft Immigration law - if enacted - will provide that tourist visas have a duration of 30 days, renewable for 60 more days.

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