Qualified Investor Visa
The Qualified investor visa was released in October 2020 and it allows for the possibility of acquiring permanent residency in only 30 days, applying remotely. This represents a unique opportunity for citizens of those countries that are not included in the friendly nations list. Similar to a golden investor visa from Portugal or Spain, Panama offers a direct path to permanent residency by investing in real estate and other vehicles.
The Friendly Nations Visa is a type of visa that also grants permanent residency, but it is only available to citizens of the countries that are considered to have friendly relations with Panama. These countries include Argentina, Uruguay, the US, and the European Union nations, among others. Until September 2020, this meant that applicants from other territories would have to apply to a temporary residency first (through any of the available visas) and only after 2 years, depending on the case, they would be allowed to apply for a permanent resident status. In the life of a businessperson or investor 2 years can be a long time. Moreover, the main options for businesspeople used to be the Reforestation Visa and the Business Inventor Visa. The former involves a good investment (in teak land) but offering returns in a very long term, and the latter requires a large amount of paperwork and long application processes.
Thanks to this Panamanian version of the golden investor visa, i.e., the Qualified Investor Program, citizens of Russia, China, and the Middle East have a brand-new opportunity. They can acquire permanent residency in only a few months by making an investment through any of the following options: real estate, financial vehicles in the Panamanian stock market, and deposit in a local bank. Today, the real estate alternative is the cheapest one with a minimum investment requirement of 300,000 USD, while financial vehicles and bank deposits require 500,000 USD and 700,000 USD, respectively.