Panama: Ministry of Labor Appearance to Be Required for Most Applicants

Effective December 27, 2017, foreign nationals in Panama (except Multinational Companies Visa - SEM visa holders) need to apply at the Ministry of Labor to submit biometrics and register their passport prior to obtaining or renewing a work permit. This process will apply once the registration system is open, which is expected to be on or after January 15, 2018. This extra step can take up to one day to complete.

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Jan 04, 2018
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The situation

The Panamanian Ministry of Labor issued a decree which requires foreign nationals in Panama (except Multinational Companies Visa - SEM visa holders) to complete an extra processing step to obtain or renew a work permit on or after December 27, 2017.

Since the registration system will not be open until January 15, 2018, the change does not go into effect until then.

  • Appearance details. Foreign nationals will need to appear at the Ministry of Labor prior to filing a work permit application to register their passport, provide fingerprints, and take a photograph. The foreign national cannot assign a third party to appear on their behalf, but a Fragomen representative can accompany the foreign national.
  • Impact. This appearance is an additional step in the visa application process and can take up to one day to complete.
  • Exception. This does not apply to SEM visa holders, since that visa includes a work authorization and does not require Ministry of Labor approval to work.
  • Consequences of noncompliance. Those who do not complete this step will not be able to obtain or renew their work permit.
  • Current work permit holders. The decree does not provide a deadline by which foreign nationals must appear at the Ministry of Labor before they renew their work permit. However, Fragomen recommends this is done as soon as the registration system is functioning.

Looking ahead

Fragomen will provide additional details on the implementation of the biometric registration system once they become available.

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 lar@fragomen.com.

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Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP, Fragomen Global LLP and affiliates, (collectively known as “Fragomen Worldwide”) is the world’s largest firm dedicated to corporate immigration, and is recognized as the leading global immigration services provider.

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