Work Permit Procedure in Panama


Navigating the Work Permit Procedure in Panama

Is your organization aiming for global expansion?

Panama might be an enticing option for several reasons.

The country is a favored destination for international expatriates.

However, extending your business operations to Panama presents its own unique challenges. It's likely you'll want to relocate a skilled group of personnel to ensure a smooth transition. But first, it's essential to secure the necessary work visas and permits for them.

Understanding the Panama Work Permit Every foreign individual intending to work in Panama needs an immigration visa that allows them to apply for a work permit.

The procedures for obtaining residency and a work permit are separate and distinct. Yet, completing the residency procedure is a prerequisite since it's a requirement for a work permit application.

The National Immigration Service handles all residency applications in Panama, whereas the Ministry of Work and Labor processes all work permit applications.

Key Prerequisites The prerequisites for a work permit are dependent on the foreigner's residency program. However, there are common requirements applicable in most instances, such as: • Original and copy of Application and Power of Attorney • Authenticated copy of the resolution from the National Immigration Service approving the applicant's Panamanian permanent residence • Certificate from the National Immigration Service verifying the applicant's immigration status • Notarized copy of the applicant's Residence ID issued by the National Immigration Service • Four passport-sized photos with the applicant's name written on the back

Expenses and Timeline The cost for a work permit varies from $100 to $600 in government charges, plus legal fees. Following an application's submission, the Ministry of Work and Labor takes between 1 to 3 months to approve or reject the request.

If approved, the applicant will receive an ID authorizing them to work in Panama. This ID may need to be shown to potential employers or Ministry of Work and Labor inspectors when required.

Supplementary Information If a foreigner with a valid work permit is hired by a local company, the company must maintain a ratio of 10 Panamanian employees to each foreign employee. This rule does not apply to Multinational Companies, which have their own set of rules.

An application from a foreigner under the Friendly Nations program must also include a work contract, proof of social security registration, and payroll information from the employer.

Generally, foreigners can invest in and supervise their own business. However, the Ministry of Work and Labor maintains that such a foreigner cannot work or manage without a work permit.

Options for Work Permit Application There are multiple options for obtaining a work permit, depending on the applicant's residency path, including:

• Foreigner married to a Panamanian

• Foreigner with Panamanian Children

• Foreigner with residence under the Friendly Nations program

• Foreigner with residence under the Panama – Italy treaty

• Foreigner with residence under the Professional Foreigner program

• Foreigner with residence living in Panama for 10 years or more

• Foreigner hired by a local company within the 10% of allowed foreign labor

• Foreigner hired by a local company with a minimum $1,000/m salary, following the rules of the Marrakech Agreement

• Foreigner hired by a local company within the 15% of expert technical labor

• Foreigner hired as a business executive by a company in the Colon Free Zone

• Foreigner hired by a local company that only offers services abroad • Foreigner granted residence as a Refugee

Types of Work Visas in Panama

Like all countries, Panama has specific rules for foreigners planning to travel and work within its borders. For stays up to 90 days, a tourist visa is available but doesn't permit work.

To live and work in Panama, foreign workers need to obtain an immigration visa, establish residence, and then apply for a work permit.

Applying for a Work Permit In Panama, it's the employer's responsibility to acquire a work permit for any foreign employees. However, a work permit cannot be granted until the National Immigration Service has granted permanent residence status.

To apply for an immigration visa and permanent residence, foreign nationals should contact the embassy or diplomatic mission of Panama in their country and submit all relevant documents. Once the visa is granted, the employer in Panama can proceed with a work permit application.

Panama's government has stringent guidelines in place to ensure that Panamanian nationals are favored over foreigners for employment. The employer must prove the necessity for a foreign employee before applying for a work permit. Also, foreign employees must not exceed 10% of the company's workforce.

Certain Professions Reserved for Panamanians It's essential to note that Panama reserves certain professions for its nationals, such as engineering, law, accounting, and psychology. A foreign national cannot work in these occupations, even with a work permit.

Occupations Reserved for Panamanians

Panamanian law forbids foreigners, even with a work permit, to labor in a number of occupations reserved for Panamanians nationals and naturalized – such as accounting, engineering, law, or psychology.

  • Accounting  Law 57 of 1978
  • Agricultural  Botany  Law 22 of 1961
  • Agricultural  Chemistry  Law 22 of 1961
  • Agricultural  Economy  Law 22 of 1961
  • Agricultural  Engineering  Executive Decree  257 of 1965
  • Agricultural  Sciences  Law 22 of 1961
  • Agricultural  Sology  Law 22 of 1961
  • Agricultural  Zoology  Law 22 of 1961
  • Agronomy  Law 22 of 1961
  • Agrostology  Law 22 of 1961
  • Architectural  Engineering  Executive Decree  257 of 1966
  • Architecture  Engineering  Executive Decree  257 of 1967
  • Barbering  and Cosmetology  Law 4 of 1956
  • Chemical  Engineering  Executive Decree  257 of 1973
  • Chemistry  Law 45 of 2001
  • Chiropractors  Decree 8 of 1967
  • Civil  Engineering  Executive Decree  257 of 1968
  • Dasonomy  Law 22 of 1961