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Panama Work Visas & Work Permits

How to get Panama work visas, how to hire foreign employees in Panama, and more helpful information to help you expand in Panama

If your business is planning to expand into the Central American nation of Panama, you may be looking to bring workers from abroad to help with the setup and running. For foreigners to legally work in Panama, they will generally need valid Panama work visas.

However, applying for Panama work visas can be complex, with unique immigration rules, language barriers, and more contributing to the difficulties. To avoid unexpected delays, it’s vital that you understand the process and follow the proper procedures.

At Horizons, our experts in foreign business expansion offer a range of Panama work visa services, immigration advice, and outsourcing options, giving your organization everything it needs to expand into Panama along with a truly global workforce.

Hire and pay talents
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Requirements for Panama work visas

The exact requirements for Panamanian work visas can vary depending on the type of visa and other factors, but some of the main general requirements are:

  • A passport
  • Passport photos
  • Application forms
  • Application fees
  • A contract of employment from a Panama-based company
  • Criminal record check
  • Accommodation arrangements

In addition to a work visa, potential employees will also need a work permit. When applying for a work permit, various documents will be requested, such as proof of residence, a letter of responsibility, and others. The exact details will be provided during the application process.

Types of Panama work visas

Standard tourist visas are only suitable for visitors who do not plan to work and are staying for under three months.

For anybody coming to Panama to work, a full immigration visa is necessary. Additionally, they will need a work permit linked to a specific job with a Panama-based employer.

How to get Panama work visas and work permits

Before getting a work permit, employees will need to obtain a visa for Panama. The application for an immigration visa and residence permit can be filed at their local Panama embassy/consulate.  Information can also be found via the National Immigration Service.

Once a visa and residence permit have been issued, you (the employer) can begin the work permit application process. This should ideally be done by an attorney and must be filed with the Ministry of Labor.

Once the work permit has been issued, the employee can enter Panama and begin working legally.

Additional considerations

In Panama, no more than 10% of a company’s workforce should be made up of foreigners, so it is important that you mostly employ locally. It is generally also necessary to demonstrate that no locals are suitable before hiring a foreigner into a particular position.

How can Horizons help?

Horizons helps businesses of all kinds successfully expand into Panama, and we specialize in obtaining Panama work visas and work permits. Our Panama immigration experts offer reliable advice and tailored outsourcing services to ensure you are fully compliant with Panama’s laws, save you time, and offer answers to any questions you may have about the immigration process. In addition, we provide varied outsourcing services covering recruitment, payroll, HR, administration, and more to help your organization thrive in Panama, even if you don’t have an official entity in the country.