The Visa Process: Plans for arrival at immigration!

Many of you have expressed interest in the immigration process. Upon delivery of the majority of documents and the second payment to our immigration attorney in Panama City, we received an email which we will share in part below. The documents had to be delivered in advance for review and translation to Spanish.

Dear ​Jennifer​ and Greg,

Below is the planned schedule for your visa application process.​ We will need you for a total of 7 working days​.

Note: The schedule does not take into account unforeseen events. You will have to remain flexible during the visa application process.

We will need you to bring with you:

1) Passports. Make sure your passports have more than 6 months before expiration and that they are not torn in any way.

2) Cash to pay for the immigration fees, our legal fees, and expenses.

3) Five “carnet” or “passport” size pictures. (Can be done in Panama)

​4) Original documents to present to immigration​


If you want to use private transportation, we can recommend reliable drivers.

(Here she recommends 7 drivers to deliver us to the meetings at her office and immigration.)



Please, download to your smart phone the “whatapp”.

1)  The 1​st ​day at 9:00 AM, I can see you in my office. We will fill out forms.

(Here she provides the address of her office along with her cell phone number and Google map to the office.

2) The next day early at ​7​:​15 AM you will meet with my assistant at the “Servicio Nacional de Migracion” in order to register you. The cost will be $5.00 each. From immigration you will go to the office.

(Here she provides the Google address link for Servicio Nacional de Migracion) The popular address is: Servicio Nacional de Migracion in Tumba Muerto next to the Excel dealer.

Please wear proper attire; No sandals, short pants or sleeveless blouses.

3) ​D​epending ​when​ all the documents are ready, we  will go to the “Servicio Nacional de Migracion” in order to apply for the visa. You will need to leave your passport in the office and $50.00 each to pay for the initial ID cards good for 6 months.

4)  The next morning, you will meet with my assistant at the Servicio Nacional de Migracion in order to get the initial immigration identification cards and the multiple entry visa. The cost will be $50.00 each. Immigration will retain your passport for 2 days, while they complete the multiple visa process. You will have an ID with you from immigration that you can use in Panama. We will return your passport back ASAP.

5) The balance of all the fees for visa bill will be due at this time. We will send you an invoice that is due before we return the passports to you with the multiple entry visas so you can travel out of Panama at will.

We will definitely be taking advantage of the private transportation that she recommends. Having spent a little time in Panama City in October, we know that traffic is a nightmare and the streets will have very few identification markers (no street signs). Her email above eluding to the common address next to the Excel Dealer leaves us laughing. We will have a rental car, but we do understand there is no room for error when reporting to immigration. The other thing notable in her email is the need for proper dress. The government offices in Panama command the respect of being properly dressed. What a novel idea. It is too bad that doesn’t go without saying. The people in Panama are very proud to dress properly when reporting to a government office. It is unfortunate that American people do not share that pride. We will keep you posted as to how this schedule plays out.
Panama Immigration Building

Today’s Spanish lesson will be helpful at immigration. Gracias por guiarnos a traves del proceso de inmigracion…translated means thank you for guiding us through the immigration process.

Gracias for continuing to follow this blog. Remember to check back often, like and share.



The Panama Pensionado Visa

It seems a good time to revisit the Pensionado Visa process. We have been working on this for quite some time now, and things are going along great. The pensionado visa is a permanent residency in Panama reserved for people who have pension income. The visa, once approved, is good for life. We are going to run down the benefits and requirements today. This all seems a little overwhelming at first, but when we’re on the beach in Panama instead of shoveling snow it will all be worth it. The Panama Pensionado visa has numerous benefits that attract retirees from all over the world.

Panama  is a nation that is very welcoming to foreigners, and perhaps never more so than when it offers retirees a whole host of discounts, on everything from airfare to hotels, movies, and utilities. These benefits are part of a package of  perks that are tailored to retirees of all ages.

The list of discounts and advantages of the pensioner’s visa is lengthy.  Here are a few that we found quite enticing:

  • 50% off on recreation and entertainment such as movies, theaters, sports, etc.
  • 50% off hotels Monday through Thursday (30% off on weekends)
  • 30% off public transportation like buses, trains, and boats
  • 25% off airfare
  • 25% off restaurants (15% off fast food)
  • 25% off electrical, telephone, and water service
  • 20% off doctors and specialists
  • 15% off hospitals and private clinics
  • 15% off dental and optometry services
  • 10% off prescription medications
  • tax-free importation of household goods, up to $10,000
  • tax-free importation of a vehicle, or tax-free purchase of a local vehicle, every 2 years

Retirees are also able to obtain a cedula. The cedula is the national identification card issued to residents. It provides improved ease for getting around and transacting business in Panama. The local people feel more comfortable doing business with people who they know are “documented”. This is a great benefit when immersing ourselves in the culture of the country.

The pensionado visa program is more than a retirement program. It is opened to anyone who meets the requirements. Recipients can never lose their benefits, as long as they continue to meet the requirements. Here is a list of the requirements to qualify:

  • Monthly income of $1,200 for life from a guaranteed source such as a pension, annuity or social security.
  • Or income of $750 per month and a $100,000 minimum investment in Panamanian real estate
  • An additional $250 monthly income for each dependent

The $1,200 per month is a total amount for a married couple.  In other words, it isn’t necessary for both spouses to meet the income requirement.  Dependent children cannot be over the age of 18, unless they are attending college.  Exceptions can also be made for adult children with disabilities.  The $250 can also be obtained in the form of interest earned on deposits in a Panamanian bank.

The process of applying for and obtaining your pensionado visa is relatively straightforward.  The whole process takes several months and costs between $1,500 and $2,000 per person, including attorney fees.  The attorney fees may be less for a married couple or a family when it is done together. There will be a bit of paperwork, and it will all need to be properly authenticated (apostilled).  A reputable attorney with experience in immigration issues will be a valuable tool as you navigate this process.  In general, you’ll need to be prepared to provide the following:

  • Certified letter from the appropriate organization or entity guaranteeing your monthly pension for life
  • Government certification that the source of your income is in good standing, if your pension comes from a private company
  • Proof of prior pension payments (e.g. check stubs, bank statements, etc.)
  • Certificate of public registration of Panamanian real estate in your name, if applicable
  • Police record from the country where you resided the past 5 years (FBI fingerprint check)
  • Marriage and/or birth certificates, if applicable
  • Six (6) passport sized photographs of the applicant (and dependents – if applicable).
  • Certificate of Good Health, issued by a licensed Panamanian hospital or clinic, signed by a registered, licensed physician, indicating that the applicant (and dependents – if applicable) has no contagious diseases and is in good mental and physical condition.  THIS MUST BE DONE DURING YOUR INITIAL VISIT TO PANAMA.

This is where we are in the process. We have a very good immigration attorney in Panama City working on this for us. We have all the documentation except Jen’s pension letter. We cannot get that until her retirement is final. Today we had all the documents apostilled at the Secretary of State. On Monday we will be sending the attorney all the documentation by e-mail (scanned and sent PDF). The attorney will the have them translated to Spanish. We will take our passport size photos with us when we go. The attorney will make arrangements for us to get our health physicals when we arrive in the country. It looks like this process is in good order.

Todays Spanish lesson is very appropriate: Por favor, deme mi descuento de pensionado. Translated… “Please give me my pensioner’s discount.”

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Thank-you Van Buren County
FBI criminal background