Choosing the Right Visa: Friendly Nations Visa vs. Investor Visa (Golden Visa)
Updated: Oct 16
When thinking about moving to another country, one of the biggest decisions you'll face is selecting the right visa. If your destination is Panama, you'll likely consider the Friendly Nations Visa and the Investor Visa (Golden Visa), two attractive options for securing residency through investment. Each visa comes with its own unique features, requirements, and benefits. In this blog, we'll break down the advantages and perks of each visa to help you make the best choice for your situation.
Friendly Nations Visa
Eligible Nations: The Friendly Nations Visa is available to citizens of specific "friendly nations" who have professional and economic ties with Panama. Who Are These "Friendly Nations"? The list includes countries like Germany, Austria, Switzerland, USA, Canada, and many more.
Investment Requirements: You can qualify for this visa in three ways:
Real Estate Investment: Invest a minimum of $200,000 in a single property in Panama. This investment must be made before you apply, and it cannot be split between multiple properties. The investment must be held for three years.
Investment in a Time Deposit (CD): Make a minimum deposit of $200,000 in a fixed-term account with a Panamanian bank for at least three years. The investment cannot be split between different banks.
For Professional Reasons: If you secure a job offer in Panama, you can apply for this visa, which requires an additional work permit.
Temporary Residency: Successful applicants initially receive a temporary residence permit for two years. After this period, you can apply for permanent residency and obtain your Panamanian E Cedula (Panamanian ID card).
Proof of Economic Activity: Single applicants no longer need to open a bank account in Panama or establish a Panamanian company. However, family applicants still must open a bank account with a minimum balance of $5,000 to demonstrate economic solvency.
Investor Visa (Golden Visa)
Fast Track Residency: The Investor Visa program is your fast track to permanent residency, granting it in as little as 30 days. Plus, you don't need to be physically present in Panama during the initial application.
Investment Requirements: You have three investment options:
Real Estate Investment: Invest a minimum of $300,000 (until October 2024). You can split this investment between multiple properties to meet the minimum requirement. The investment must be maintained for at least five years, with annual proof of the investment submitted to the National Immigration Service.
Investment through a securities house in Panama with a minimum investment of $500,000.
Investment in a Time Deposit (CD): A minimum deposit of $750,000 for a minimum of five years.
VIP Application Counter: The Investor Visa program provides a dedicated VIP counter for processing applications, streamlining the process.
Single Application: You can obtain permanent residency with a single application, with no renewals required. The condition is to maintain your investment for a minimum of five years, with physical presence in Panama required only after approval to obtain the migration ID card and your photo for your Panamanian ID card (E Cedula).
Family Inclusion: The Investor Visa allows all first-line family members (spouses, children, and parents of the principal applicant) to be included in the same application without additional investment.
Choosing the Right Visa for You
When deciding between the Friendly Nations Visa and the Investor Visa, consider the following factors:
Nationality: Check if your nationality qualifies you for the Friendly Nations Visa.
Investment Capacity: Assess your financial situation to see if you meet the investment requirements for either visa.
Timeline: Consider how urgently you need to obtain permanent residency. The Friendly Nations Visa offers a two-step process, while the Investor Visa is a faster route to permanent residency.
Family Inclusion: If you plan to include family members in your application, the Investor Visa is more favorable due to its inclusivity without extra investment.
Personal Presence: If you prefer not to travel to Panama for the initial application, the Investor Visa allows for remote application.
Investment Type: Decide whether you'd like to invest in real estate, a securities house, or a time deposit, as this might affect your choice.
Maintaining Investment: Ensure you can sustain your investment for the required duration specified by your chosen visa. For the Friendly Nations Visa, the investment must be held for three years. For the Investor Visa, the investment must be held for five years, with annual proof submitted to the National Immigration Service.
Fees and Expenses: When it comes to fees, there are notable differences between the Investor Visa and the Friendly Nations Visa in Panama. The state application fees (government fees) for the Investor Visa are relatively higher, costing $10,000 for the main applicant and $2,000 for each dependent. In contrast, the Friendly Nations Visa has more affordable state application fees, with $1,050 for the main applicant and only $250 for each child under 12. Depending on your family situation and budget, you may find one of these visas more cost-effective.However, it's important to note that the Friendly Nations Visa requires all applicants to travel to Panama for each application and reception of the temporary and/or permanent residence permit. This means that travel costs, including flight tickets and accommodation for all applicants, must be considered for both the application and approval procedure. So while the Friendly Nations Visa may have lower government fees, these additional travel expenses should also be factored into your decision-making process.
Both the Friendly Nations Visa and the Investor Visa offer unique advantages, and your choice should align with your specific circumstances, long-term goals, and investment capacity. Whether you opt for the Friendly Nations Visa or the Investor Visa, Panama provides a path to residency and even citizenship. Feel free to schedule a free initial consultation with us to navigate the application process and select the visa option that best suits your needs and preferences. Your journey to Panama awaits!