Panama: Increased Fines and Enforcement for Companies Employing Foreign Nationals Without Work Permits

A regulation has increased fines for companies employing foreign nationals without approved work permits. Immigration authorities are also expected to increase enforcement of fines.

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Sep 22, 2017
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The situation
Increased penalties for companies who employ foreign nationals without approved work permits.

A closer look
Penalties for company violations have been increased as follows:

  • 1st violation:  USD 500 fine for each worker without an approved work permit. There is no maximum monetary limit for the fines.
  • 2nd violation:  USD 1,000 fine for each worker without an approved work permit. There is no maximum monetary limit for the fines.
  • 3rd violation:  USD 10,000 fine regardless of the number of foreign nationals working without an approved permit. Additionally, the company's Operation Permit will be suspended for a period of time, subject to the discretion of the Ministry of Commerce, resulting in the temporary suspension of operations. 
  • 4th violation: A cancelled Operation Permit, resulting in a cessation of company operations, the immediate termination of all foreign nationals who are not work authorized, and the publication of the company's name on the website of the Ministry of Labor.

Immigration authorities are also expected to increase enforcement of fines.

Impact on certain visa types
The penalties apply to all work permit types except SEM (Multinational) visas. However, a company with an SEM license that utilizes additional visas or other visa types that require work permits are subject to this regulation.

What this means for employers 
Employers must ensure that their foreign workers have approved and valid work permits prior to the start of an assignment, otherwise the employer's operations could be shut down. Fragomen can assist employers with reviewing foreign nationals' immigration documents and advising on their status.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to panamacityinfo@fragomen-mfn.com.

© 2017 Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP, Fragomen Global LLP and affiliates. All Rights Reserved.

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