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Registered: 11-2005
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How to get a pensionado visa, by Clyde Jenkins (who got one)

This memo describes how to get a pensionado visa. It was written for one of the yahoo groups in 2004, by Clyde Jenkins, based on his own experience in getting a pensionado visa, information from his lawyer, and information from other people who also got pensionado visas. He had his attorney, Reinelda Mata-Kelly, edit the article (her comments are in brackets).

Susan's note: Since this article was written, quite a few people have posted information to the effect that they were NOT required to obtain a "police letter" in order to get a pensionado visa (but their dependent spouses WERE required to get one) so you should ask your attorney about this very early in the process, as it is not clear whether the primary applicant needs the letter or not.

Also, articles like this are not the last word on the subject. Rather, they are intended to help you get ready for your meeting with your lawyer, who will give you the final word on what you have to do to get the visa. The government changes the rules from time to time, and by the time you are ready to apply, this information may be out of date.


The following procedure for obtaining Pensionado status in Panama is listed below. This is a compilation of information received from many sources, including Melodye, Bill Baio (in the chat room), my conversations with the Panamanian Consulate General in San Francisco
and attorney Rainelda Mata-Kelly in Panama City [remarks in brackets] who was very helpful and gracious. This procedure is not meant to make anyone an expert on Pensionado requirements, but merely a guide as to what YOU need to do to receive your Pensionado Carnet. There are many steps that your attorney will take care of and for
which you don’t even have to be aware. The issue of cost seems to be rather sensitive and while the SUGGESTED cost as posted by the Panama Supreme Court is $1,500.00, I have been told by Pensionados that they have paid a total of $700.00, “less than that” and $800.00 which included all fees incurred in Panama. This certainly seems to be an area open for negotiation, but as I’m sure we all know, we get what we pay for. It is crucial that you get a qualified attorney.

To apply for a Pensionado Carnet, you will need to have the following documents and do the following things:

1. Original passport good for 6 months or more from the date of application. If your passport expires before this time be sure to have it renewed. [It is always wise to recommend that the passport has one year of more of validity, in case there are any delays before the application is actually filed.]

2. A "Police Letter" from your local law enforcement agency regarding any criminal record within the last 5 years. This document must be notarized. This document must be "authenticated" at a Panamanian Consulate and have stamps affixed. The cost of :"authentication" is $30.00 per page and may be done in person or by mail. If by mail, include a letter to the Consulate General of Panama which serves your area, include your name, address, telephone number and email address along with a self addressed stamped envelope and a check payable to: Consulate General of Panama in the amount of $30.00 for each page. It is not necessary to have the documents translated into Spanish at the Consulate as this can be done in Panama by your attorney at a lower cost. [It is always wise to fax the documents first to the Consulate to make sure they are able to authenticate the document in the form you have it, before sending it, this is particularly so, after a year from now, when there will be changes in the Consular staff of all our Consulates due to the taking of office of the new government.]

3. A letter or form [(it should be a letter signed in original)] from the Social Security Administration (and/or pension administrator if you are retiring before you receive Social Security and receiving a pension) which shows that you will receive at least $500.00 a month for you and an additional $100.00 a month for your spouse and each dependent child. These forms/letters will need to be "authenticated" as in #2 above. [If the person is receiving the pension from a non-governmental agency, then he/she will need to provide also a check stub or a statement of account showing the pension being deposited, and a good standing certificate from the company issuing the pension (this latter document is also to be authenticated).]

4. If married, a copy of your marriage license and a copy of birth certificates for any dependent children, also "authenticated" as in #1 above. [Please take note this should not be a mere photocopy, but a copy issued by the authority in charge of recording the marriage or
birth certificate.]

5. When you arrive in Panama, present the documents in 1 through 4 above to your attorney and he/she will process the application for you. In Panama you will be required to have a health exam for evidence of good health, an HIV test and obtain "passport" photos all of which your
attorney will help you arrange. If all goes well you should receive your Pensionado Carnet in approximately one month. The approximate cost for attorneys fees (including any government fees) is $600.00 to $700.00 for a single person. [This is not realistic and well below the established Supreme Court rate of $1,500. (The Supreme Court of Panama regulates the minimum fees attorneys should charge for their services).]

6. It is suggested that at the same time you also apply for a multiple entry visa which will cost an additional $100.00 plus attorneys fees and allows you unrestricted entry to and exit from Panama for a period of 2 years.

[It is important that the above documents be issued no later than three months of the time of filing the application at the Immigration Department in order to avoid problems. . The cost that I charge, including fees an all expenses is around $1,500 and $500 for the spouse. There are no hidden expenses and we take the clients every step of the way and pay everything from doctor's fees to lab fees, authentications at the Foreign Office, translations, etc. We follow up with Immigration so our clients do not need to go there except when absolutely necessary and then we go with them, basically they only have to visit Immigration twice. Your readers must also be aware that 5% service tax is payable over any fees paid.]

Clyde L. Jenkins
11/16/2005, 3:07 pm Link to this post Send Email to susangg   Send PM to susangg
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Re: How to get a pensionado visa, by Clyde Jenkins (who got one)

Thank you so much for this valuable information.
At times, when looking at sites that promote their services at a cost, some of the info is not too clear.
3/12/2006, 12:18 pm Link to this post Send Email to IDPHX   Send PM to IDPHX

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