Panama is one of the most popular destinations for retirees in the world. Its affordable yet high-quality healthcare system and unparalleled weather make it a very easy place to live, particularly for the older generation.
Panama’s Pensionado program has long been championed for its retiree benefits. Expat retirees are able to obtain residence easily and have access to a wide range of discounts, such as 50% off travel, healthcare, hotels and restaurants.
However, according to local media reports, Panama’s immigration authority is bringing in new laws relating to foreigners. According to the Servicio Nacional de Migracion (SNM), some wily foreigners are abusing their tourist visas by departing Panama for a few days so they can renew their visa and stay longer, years in some cases.
The SNM believes this tactic to be an abuse of the country’s hospitality to foreign visitors and expats. Panama has always been warm to both tourists and those wanting a new life in the country. However, in a statement released by the authority, genuine tourists will be welcomed, but would-be residents will have to abide by strict rules.
Panamanian immigration officers have been instructed to carefully examine all foreign passports of those entering the country. They will be detecting whether there is any pattern of leaving and returning to Panama, which would suggest a foreigner is attempting to renew their tourist visa. Investigations will also take place on those who own property in the country yet enter on a tourist visa.
The SNM will also be reviewing their laws surrounding legal residency and are rumoured to be making some drastic changes. Those most likely to be affected include citizens of a number of European states and those hailing from the USA and Canada.
Latin American countries have always been relaxed in regards to visas and residency. However, experts believe that government pressure and concerns over terrorism has forced Panama to undergo a comprehensive revamp of their rules and regulations surrounding visas and immigration.