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Pensionado Retirement Visa

“Lief Simon recently wrote that a pensionado retirement visa in Panama expired if an expat was out of the country for more than two years.
My pensionado visa was obtained in 2007. The law firm that assisted me in obtaining it told me, just last month, that it was a lifetime visa with no time consideration for being out of the country. I was seriously injured in Panama in 2009 and have been mending in the States since then. Now I’d like to return via my pensionado.Who should I believe?”

Mike L., Florida

Our attorney in Panama responds:

“Once they get their indefinite or permanent residency, every resident of Panama must come into the country every two years to keep the residency valid.

“There is a way of obtaining a waiver, for health reasons, but it’s been four years in this case, and Immigration is hardly responsive in these circumstances.

“The good news is that Immigration is very lax in canceling residencies for this cause. So, provided you’re not planning on applying for citizenship, you may get away with coming back as a pensioner. Come back through the resident’s line and present your pensioner card. Most likely you’ll be allowed in.

“If you’ve changed passports, I’d encourage you to bring your old passport, so we can change the registration and get you a new pensioner card. This would cement your residency here.”

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