What is the change? Immigration authorities in Panama are strictly enforcing a requirement that foreign employees’ original ID cards be returned when their visas are canceled, even if the cancellation is requested by the company.

What does the change mean? Authorities will no longer accept a copy of the ID card. If the foreign employee is no longer available or has left the country, the employer must obtain a power of attorney signed by the visa holder in order to request a migratory movement certification from immigration authorities.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate and ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Cancellation of work visas.
  • Who is affected: Companies and foreign employees requesting visa cancellation in Panama.
  • Impact on processing times: The migratory movement certification takes two to four days to process after the power of attorney is submitted.
  • Business impact: Companies should plan in advance in case they need to request cancellation of a visa and require a power of attorney signed by the employee.
  • Next steps: Employers are encouraged to obtain a signed power of attorney from foreign employees at the start of the visa process to keep on hand if needed.

Background: Immigration authorities have always required the return of a foreign employee’s ID card upon visa cancellation, but previously accepted a letter from the company and a copy of the ID card, especially in cases where the employee had left the country.

Now, when an employee is unavailable to return the card, the employer must request a migratory movement certification from the immigration authorities before it can cancel a visa. In order to obtain the certification, the company must submit a power of attorney signed by the employee, authorizing a request for a migratory movement certification. The employer must then submit the certification in lieu of the original ID card.

BAL Analysis: To avoid delays in case a visa needs to be canceled, companies should request that the employee sign the appropriate power of attorney at the outset of the visa process. BAL can assist with this process.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Panama. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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