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Visa Requirements For Students And Dependents In Panama, Costa Rica, And Belize

“Kathleen, first let me say a huge thank you for the wealth of information that I have received over the past few months from Live and Invest Overseas!

“I am trying to narrow the field of possible locales that we will investigate in person on our path to joining your world of expats. One of the ‘filters’ I am applying is how family-friendly a country’s residency visa program is, since we would like to keep the door open for the whole family to come with us.

“If I understand correctly, both Panama and Costa Rica have an age cap of 25 on dependents (Belize QRP is 23, but Belize has already been scratched from my list).

“Here is my question: If the ceiling is 25 and the dependent must be a student, 1) are there any exceptions to either age or academic standing in either Panama or Costa Rica? And 2) if a dependent just barely meets the age requirement when we first arrive, can they stay in the country on that visa once they either passed their 25th year or are no longer in school?”

–Janet L., United States

We had this situation with our daughter after she graduated from college in the United States and moved to Panama. After she’d graduated, she wasn’t grandfathered into the residency visa program we were pursuing. We had to enroll her in a local university in Panama to renew her temporary residency (the status she had achieved through the program we were pursuing as a family) expired. Fortunately, the cost for that was only US$250 for the semester we needed to prove her student status. She never actually attended a class; we simply needed proof of her registration for Immigration.

Unfortunately, she would not have been able to renew her residency under that program as our dependent past the age of 25. So this year we switched her to the Specific Countries residency program instead, this time under her own application. I’m happy to report that she has qualified for this program on her own and is now a fully legal permanent resident of Panama with the cedula to prove it.

In other words, to answer your question directly, no, there are no exceptions to the rule related to dependents. On the other hand, there’s always a way to make it work if you get a little creative.

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