Is Panama Returning to the 90-Day Tourist Visa?


 Is Panama Returning to the 90-Day Tourist Visa?

It's well known that the Panamanian government has some of the strictest immigration laws in Latin America. If you hope to visit Panama for more than two weeks, you'll need to find a sponsor that will guarantee your stay. However, a new law was just passed on May 10th and this might change the way tourists enter the country.

The new bill allows for holders of multiple-entry visas who can prove that they plan on spending at least 90 days in Panama to avoid requirements as a temporary visitor and obtain an unlimited visa instead! This is great news for those who want to make plans in Panama for more than two weeks because there will be no need to depend on their sponsors and worry about getting approved each time. The 90-day visa is not yet available for use. It will begin April 1, 2014.

No guarantees have been made that the law will be honoured or enforced. Visitors should still apply for a visa through their local consulate ahead of the launch date in order to avoid any complications.
So far, the bill has received mixed reviews from many local and foreign travellers alike. There are some who are happy with this as it alleviates their worries when planning a visit for more than two weeks but there are others who argue that it is unfair because they've invested a lot of time planning a trip and now they're being told that they can't take advantage of this opportunity.

This new bill is a great way for Panama to increase tourism if it is properly handled by the Panamanian government. Also, it's important for travellers to know that this law does not take away the responsibility of a visitor to make plans ahead because there are still many things that need to be done in order to ensure their trip will be smooth.

Comments: The author's first sentence says "It's well known that the Panamanian government has some of the strictest immigration laws in Latin America". Hardly. It is not well known, at least not by me.
Here is a link to the article.
Here, the applicant must prove he intends to stay in Panama for at least 90 days. That is the current requirement of a visa, which comes with other conditions for visitors. If you need a long term visa, you come here with a plan that will take at least 90 days and you meet certain requirements related to work in Panama, then you have the right to apply for a long term visa. If you just want to come for a quick visit, you apply for a visitor's visa that is generally three months.
Here is a link to that article on long term visas in Panama.
I have not found any articles about the possibility of changing the law to allow visitors to apply for 90 day visas, not even in Spanish. Perhaps some one can find any articles about this or tell us if this is true and has been approved.
If 90 day visas can be granted at the time of entry, I expect many people will come here with a lot less money and fewer plans, because they can stay longer and just worry about making plans once they are here in Panama.
So, the question is, how long can anyone expect to stay on a visitor's visa with a 3 month time frame before applying for a 90 day visa?
I have not found any articles about this. The information I have found is that Panama needs more tourism but this does not help. The tourist who comes here on a short term visit does not spend money in Panama and is going to visit many countries before he leaves. If the tourist comes here with no plans and wants to find an apartment and rent it for 3 months, he must find someone who will sponsor his stay. He cannot get a visa without plans but then he has no means of finding an apartment or renting one.
I was in Panama for 4 weeks on a 3 month visa and no one would rent to me. I did not have the means to make plans or buy a car. If I came here with no plans, you gave me no respect.
If this law is approved, it will be approved but there are many conditions involved such as: 1) you need to come with a sponsor that guarantees your stay at least 90 days; 2) your sponsor must give you the documents that will exercise the right to stay; 3) you cannot enter Panama without an allowance or permit from your sponsor; 4) if your sponsor fails or changes his mind and you lose all legal protection, then you cannot enter Panama without a visa from Panama.
So, really, nothing has changed except that you can come here with no plans and continue entering. You will have one visit to do as much or as little as you can, and then you want to leave for a few days and then return for another visit.
There is still a lot of work to do before this bill becomes effective in 2014.
I am not sure the author has reviewed anything except what he read on newspaper PanamPost, which is not accurate.
I have found no articles in Spanish about this change so I can only follow the information in English and my own knowledge of Panamanian immigration rules.
The author says the immigration law says that if you intend to stay for 90 days you must get a visa from the embassy. It is true that those who enter on a tourist visa (3 months) must obtain a visa before leaving their country. However, the author does not mention that you can also enter Panama with no plans and get a 90 day visitor's visa. I entered Panama on this type of visa and since I had no plans, there was no bureaucratic obstacles to obtain this type of permit.
Why is it that the author mentions this 90 days visa when there is no mention of any law change? This visa is not in effect: it takes effect in April 2014.
So where is evidence that Panama will grant a 90 day visa at the airport? How can we expect they can last 3 months if they have no place to stay? How much money will they have to spend if they do not plan ahead?
How can you expect visitors to come here if the way for them to stay for three months depends on a sponsor who must meet certain requirements, etc. The author seems very optimistic about this law but there is not much information about it, so I do not see how he can make such statements.
I think the author should write a new article once the law is approved and has taken effect this April. Then we will all be able to judge whether the law change is a good thing or not.
However, I can assure you that visitors who come here with no plan and no money are going to have a lot of problems getting through immigration in Panama.
This article was written by Michael Parker and published on his blog, Not Just Another Small Town, on February 28th, 2013 (Friday). It was posted here with permission from Mr. Parker.

Conclusion: The author makes a lot of false statements about Panama and immigration laws. He should read some of the articles the Panamanian Immigration has published about the types of visas for various kinds of visitors. In addition, he needs to understand that almost all visitors who come here with little or no money are not allowed to stay in Panama for more than 90 days unless they have a plan, including a sponsor who will guarantee their stay. This is true in most countries of the world and even if certain people can stay longer on a tourist visa, they cannot work or do anything else in most countries except maybe to visit historical places. Most visitors that come here with no money and no plans leave after their 3 months are up and rarely return again.

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