Visa for Panama Specialist Workers


A Panama Specialist Workers Visa gives the holder a work permit for a maximum of nine months.

In general, Panama has different work visa categories available, including the Temporary Resident Visa for Work (Residente Temporal por Trabajo) and the Permanent Resident Visa for Work (Residente Permanente por Trabajo). These visas are typically obtained by securing a job offer from a Panamanian employer who sponsors the visa application.

To apply for a work visa in Panama, the applicant typically needs to fulfill certain requirements, such as providing proof of a valid employment contract, proof of professional qualifications, a clean criminal record, a medical certificate, and other supporting documents. The specific requirements and application process may vary depending on the type of work visa being sought.

The National Immigration Service will establish a registration system for businesses engaged in specialized activities by foreigners within the Republic of Panama. The purpose is to ensure that these businesses are officially recognized by the immigration authority and to maintain updated records annually. To register, businesses are required to complete a formal application and submit the following documents:

  1. Application for the Panama Specialist Workers Visa.
  2. Certificate from the Public Registry.
  3. Copies of the Notice of Operations.
  4. Payment receipts for public utility services at the business location.
  5. Bank certification.
  6. Latest tax return, along with a valid "paz y salvo" (proof of tax clearance).
  7. Police record.
  8. Copies of Form 03 issued by the Department of Economy and Finance.
  9. "Paz y salvo" from the Social Security Fund (CSS).

To remain in the registration system, businesses must comply with Article 89 of the Decree Law.

To apply for the Panama Specialist Workers Visa, businesses must fulfill the formalities outlined in Article 28 of the Decree Law and submit the following documents:

  1. Application for the Panama Specialist Workers Visa.
  2. Three (3) photographs of the visa applicant.
  3. Identification document from the country of origin or residence permit.
  4. Proof of affiliation with the CSS.
  5. Deposit of a guarantee, in favor of the National Immigration Service, in the amount of one thousand dollars ($1,000), to be made on behalf of the contracting business.
  6. Panamá work permit.
  7. Copies of the airline ticket (electronic or printed) showing return to the country of origin.
  8. Proof of hotel reservation or accommodation arrangements.
  9. National "paz y salvo" of the business applicant.
  10. "Paz y salvo" from the CSS of the business applicant.
  11. Letter of responsibility from the business.
  12. Proof of payment of income tax related to the value of the labor contract.
  13. Affidavit from the foreigner, duly notarized by a Panamanian notary.

It's crucial to check the latest information from official Panamanian immigration authorities or consult with an immigration attorney for the most accurate and updated details regarding work visas in Panama.

Here are some of the important labor protections for Panamanian workers:

  1. Employment Contracts: Employers are generally required to provide written employment contracts to their employees, specifying the terms and conditions of employment, including job responsibilities, working hours, compensation, benefits, and termination procedures.
  2. Minimum Wage: Panama has a legally mandated minimum wage that employers must adhere to. The minimum wage is periodically reviewed and adjusted by the government to ensure workers receive fair compensation.
  3. Maximum Working Hours: The standard work week in Panama is 48 hours, with a maximum of 8 hours per day. Any work performed beyond the regular hours is considered overtime, which entitles employees to receive additional compensation.
  4. Overtime Pay: Employees who work more than the regular hours are entitled to receive overtime pay, typically at a higher rate than the regular hourly wage. The exact rate varies based on the time of day and the day of the week.
  5. Paid Leave: Panamanian workers are entitled to various types of paid leave, including annual vacation leave, sick leave, and maternity/paternity leave. The specific entitlements and durations may vary depending on the length of employment and other factors.
  6. Social Security and Benefits: Employers in Panama are required to contribute to the social security system on behalf of their employees. This provides workers with access to healthcare, retirement benefits, and other social security benefits.
  7. Workplace Safety: Employers have a legal obligation to provide a safe and healthy working environment for their employees. They must comply with occupational health and safety regulations and take necessary measures to prevent workplace accidents and hazards.
  8. Protection Against Discrimination: Panamanian labor laws prohibit discrimination in employment based on factors such as gender, race, religion, nationality, disability, and age.

These are some of the main labor protections available to Panamanian workers. It's important to note that specific regulations and labor rights may be subject to updates or changes over time, so it's advisable to consult the latest labor laws and regulations or seek legal advice for accurate and up-to-date information.

In Panama, there are certain jobs or professions that are reserved exclusively for Panamanian citizens. These jobs are known as "reserved occupations" or "nationality-restricted professions." The rationale behind these restrictions is to prioritize the employment of Panamanian citizens and protect their job opportunities.

The specific list of reserved occupations can vary over time, as it is periodically reviewed and updated by the Panamanian government. As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, some of the professions that are typically restricted to Panamanian citizens include:

  1. Public sector jobs: Many positions in the public sector, such as government officials, diplomats, judges, prosecutors, and military personnel, are typically reserved for Panamanian citizens.
  2. Certain professions requiring licensing: Some professions, such as lawyers, doctors, pharmacists, architects, engineers, and accountants, may have restrictions on practicing for non-Panamanian citizens. These professions often require obtaining a license or registration from the relevant professional association, and eligibility may be limited to Panamanian citizens.
  3. Some roles in education: Teaching positions in public schools and certain administrative roles in the education sector may be restricted to Panamanian citizens.
  4. Agricultural and artisanal activities: In certain rural areas, there may be restrictions on non-Panamanians engaging in agricultural activities or artisanal trades.

It's important to note that these restrictions may not apply to all expatriates. For example, foreign nationals married to Panamanian citizens or those who have obtained permanent residency or citizenship in Panama may have broader access to employment opportunities.

It's always recommended to consult with the Panamanian Ministry of Labor or seek legal advice to obtain the most accurate and up-to-date information on job restrictions and eligibility criteria for expatriates in Panama.

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