New Immigration Regulations

The Executive Decree 534 of October 3rd, 2014, which regulates the special immigration system established by Law 32 of April 5th, 2011 was published in the Official Gazette No. 27,636-A of October 6th, 2014. The aforementioned Law establishes a Special, Comprehensive and Simplified System for the setting up and operation of Free Zones, including in its Chapter VII, special provisions governing the immigration subject-matter for the foreigners which require applying for Visas or Residence Permits under the protection of this Law.

Law 32 of 2011 created new immigration sub-categories such as: Permanent Resident Permit as Free Zones Investor; Temporary Resident Permit as Personnel in the position of trust, executive, expert and/or technician of authorized companies as Promoters or Operators of Free Zones or by Companies established in Free Zones; Temporary Permit for Special Policies as Teacher, Student or Researcher of a Higher Education Center in a Free Zone; Short Stay Visa as a Free Zone Trader and Investor; among others. These new categories are the subject-matter regulated by Decree 534 in question, which contains twenty (20) articles which develop the applicable requirements and procedures for the application or extension of each one of them. This type of special immigration system has been used for several years as part of the incentives included in special laws to attract investors and companies in order that they establish their operations in various sectors of our country, as in the case of special immigration systems included within the Law which created the Panama-Pacific Special Economic Area and the Law for the Establishment and Operation of Multinational Corporations Headquarters (SEM), among others.

Regarding this subject, we must make mention Executive Decree 535 of October 3rd, 2014, published in the same Official Gazette, which establishes special requirements and procedures for those foreigners of restricted nationalities whose object is to reside in our country with the purpose of investing or working for companies attached to the Panama-Pacific Special Economic Area (Law 41 of 2004), Special System of Multinational Corporations Headquarters (Law 41 of 2007) or Special System of Free Zones (Law 32 of 2011).

Said Decree repeals Executive Decree 414 of June 13th, 2012, which allowed that foreigners from restricted nationalities, who applied for a Visa or Temporary Resident permit covered by the categories set forth within the special laws governing the Panama-Pacific Special Economic Area and the Special System of Multinational Corporations Headquarters, did not require the approval of previous recommendation from the Security Council of the Republic of Panama.

In this regard, Executive Decree 535 of 2014, primarily maintains this benefit, extending it to those foreigners who require applying to an immigration category as set forth within the law which governs the Special System of Free Zones, encouraging, once again, the foreign investment.

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