Interest in Panama’s Independent Means Visas at All-Time High, Demand for Investor Visas Cooling


Interest in Panama’s “retirement” visas (Jubilados o Pensionados) – a form of independent means visa designed with retirees in mind but, in practice, used by individuals in all age groups who can demonstrate a modest, passive monthly income – has never been more pronounced.

Between the start of the year and the end of October, Migración Panamá had approved 1,229 such visas for main applicants, nearly as many as in the three preceding years combined. Barring a sharp and unexpected reduction in approvals, the number of Panamanian retirement visas approved in a single calendar year will reach an all-time high in 2022, finally eclipsing a record that has been uncontested since 2011, the earliest year for which statistics are available.

Demand for investment-based visas, meanwhile, is this year returning to the long-term trendline after a heady 2021 that saw a record 4,659 investor visa approvals. Those elevated application volumes were attributable to the long-heralded increase in the minimum investment amount for Panama's by-far most popular investment-based visa, the Friendly Nations Visa (FNV): The raising of the minimum from just US$5,000 to US$200,000 (see our article from last year: 3 Ways Panama’s Friendly Nations Visa Became Less Friendly Over the Summer) drove a flurry of last-minute applications.

While FNV approval volumes have dropped, Panama's newest investment-based visa (it has operated more than a dozen different investor visas in the last decade), the Qualified Investor Visa - has seen some significant uptake in the last two months.

The QIV - which offers immediate permanent residence, a five-year path to citizenship, and which (unlike the FNV) is open to all nationalities - is the second-most popular investor visa in Panama this year. The QIV's real estate investment option was slated to rise from US$300,000 to US$500,000 last month but, at the 11th hour, authorities opted to extend the official discount for a further two years.

By the end of October, Panama had issued 109 QIVs to main applicants, slightly more than the 107 issued to fixed deposit solvencia propia investors. At 65 approvals so far in 2022, the real estate route under the solvencia propia category is on track for a statistically unremarkable year.

All of Panama's investment-based visas have remarkably high rates of approval, ranging from 94 to 100 percent this year.