Recent Modifications To The Panamanian Labor Immigration Regulations

Executive Decree 6 of April 13, 2023 (hereinafter “the Decree”), that regulates labor immigration in Panama and entirely replaces Executive Decree 4 of March 2, 2023, aims to comply with our Constitution and the dispositions contained in articles 17, 18 and 19 of the Labor Code, from a Human Rights guarantee-based perspective where the migrant worker is an individual with rights and obligations.

Some remarkable modifications incorporated in the new Decree are:

  • Common requirements for all types of work permits.
  • New work permit classification:
  1. Local labor (arts. 12 to 36);
  2. Percentages authorized by the Labor Code (arts. 37 to 56);
  3. Special Laws (arts. 57 al 74);
  4. Work Permits established through Special Economic and Investment Policies (art. 75);
  5. Under the Protection of the Republic of Panama (arts. 78 to 96);
  6. Special Immigration Conditions (arts. 97 to 108);
  7. Temporary work permits (arts. to 130).
  • The work permit for migrant worker married with a Panamanian is part of the local labor category and is divided in: (i) current marriage; (ii) custody of children due to divorce; and (iii) custody of children due to widowhood.
  • Migrant workers that have been granted a Work Permit according to Executive Decree 140 of 2012, under the category of Specific Countries that maintain friendly, professional, economic and investment relations with the Republic of Panama (Friendly Countries) will be considered as local labor, for all payroll calculation purposes.
  • Dependents of migrant workers with a visa or resident permit based on special laws can apply for a work permit in any of the existing categories.
  • For payroll calculation purposes, Friendly Countries’ work permits shall count within the authorized percentages (10% and 15%).
  • To obtain the work permit extension for Special Economic and Investments Policies, applicants must provide the common requirements plus the income tax statement with its good standing certificate issued by the General Directorate of Revenue or payment of nine (9) quotas to the Social Security Fund.
  • The self-employment work permit for special immigration conditions shall be granted to whoever requests it voluntarily and is directly carrying out an income-generating activity allowed to foreigners or self-employed.
  • Temporary workers are not included in any of the percentages authorized by the Labor Code.

This Decree entered into force on May 13, 2023.

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