Visa - Through Marriage to a Panamanian

Marrying a Panamanian is possibly one of the easiest and quickest ways to obtain permanent residency in Panama. Once permanent residency is obtained, one becomes entitled to request naturalization and citizenship. Unlike most immigration programs, immigrants who have Panamanian spouses are required to have permanent residence for just three years, compared to the typical 5 year period before requesting naturalization. Nevertheless, like many other countries, the Panamanian Immigration Department may require that the couple assist various interviews to ensure that they do not have a set-up marriage. Additionally, the Immigration Department may visit the family´s home as well as interview their neighbors to ensure that the couple is actually living together.

The requirements vary according to which of the spouses is working, and which is economically dependent. If the immigrant spouse is working, it will be necessary to get him/her a work permit. If the immigrant spouse is running their own business, then it may be possible to avoid getting the work permit, although it is necessary to show economic solvency and the ability to support oneself in order to be granted the visa and subsequent permanent residency.

Summary of the Process:

Regardless of which spouse is working, the application process is pretty standard:

  1. Registration at the Immigration Department
  2. Application for an Immigrant Visa as "Married to a Panamanian" Upon completing the process for the immigrant visa application, the applicant will receive an immigration card with the corresponding stamp in their passport.
  3. Approximately one year after being granted the Visa - before its expiration, the applicant should apply for Permanent Residency with a right to a cédula.
  4. After three years of permanent residency, the immigrant may apply for citizenship and passport.

Permanent residence is usually granted about two years from the initial request for an Immigrant Visa.