332 main applicants received independent means visas (Jubilado y Pensionista visas) in the first quarter of 2022, a figure already equal to 53% of the 2021 full-year total. The numbers indicate Panama can expect to see more than than a doubling of total IMV approvals this year compared to 2021, and the highest number of approvals in more than a decade.
Panama’s IMVs are among the world’s most popular, though dozens of similar programs have seen a sharp rise in interest, particularly since the onset of the pandemic, many of them in Europe. [For an in-depth exploration of the IMV programs around the world, listen to our podcast episode on the topic: Independent Means Visas Eating Into Golden Visas’ Market Share.]
Investment-based visa issuances, meanwhile, demonstrate a downward trend so far this year; Panama approved 890 of them in Q1, which would imply a full-year 2022 approval volume of under 4,000, down from 4,659 in 2021. One likely explanation is that Panama's Friendly Nations Visa - which historically has accounted for more than nine in ten investment-based visas, of which Panama has more than a dozen kinds - became a great deal less friendly last year.
The FNV rules now stipulate that applicants make an investment of US$200,000 in either real estate or a fixed-term deposit, or obtain employment sponsorship from a Panamanian company. Moreover, while FNV-holders were previously awarded immediate permanent residency in Panama, they must now undergo a six-month assessment period, following which they (if approved) are awarded a two-year temporary residency. At the conclusion of two years, applicants become eligible for permanent residency.
The Friendly Nations Visa approval volume may have further to fall still; because of the six-month assessment period and a backlog created by the rush to apply before the new, heightened minimum investment requirements took effect last year, the government is still processing FNV applications from last year. Once applications filed under the old rules have been processed, we should expect significantly lower FNV approval figures.
A more granular look within the investment-based visa category, however, reveals encouraging demand tendencies for the US$300,000 Solvencia Propia real estate investment option, as well as the Call Center investor option.
If you like data-driven articles like this one, you'll love the IMI Data Center, the world's largest collection of investment migration statistics.
Christian Henrik Nesheim is the founder and editor of Investment Migration Insider, the #1 magazine - online or offline - for residency and citizenship by investment. He is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, documentary producer, and writer on the subject of investment migration, whose work is cited in the Economist, Bloomberg, Fortune, Forbes, Newsweek, and Business Insider. Norwegian by birth, Christian has spent the last 16 years in the United States, China, Spain, and Portugal.