More efficiency for Immigration
PANAMA. The new immigration law will require the Immigration Department to approve or deny applications made by foreigners in 60 workin...
PANAMA. The new immigration law will require the Immigration Department to approve or deny applications made by foreigners in 60 working days, otherwise the residency or visa application will be approved automatically.
The new statute that will be enforced from August 1, 2009 is aiming to expedite the immigration process and make the system more effective.
The director of the Immigration Department, Clovis Sinisterra said that the processing of visas and residences takes so long, because many foreign applicants do not present all the necessary documents. On top of that, the sheer volume of cases that the department receives daily, makes the process very slow.
Sinisterra said that in 2007 3.8 million foreigners visited the country as tourists or as investors. In 2008 that figure went up by 16 percent.
Talking about the delay in awarding work visas, the director said that the infrastructure the department has at the moment is not enough to cope with the number of application it receives everyday. “The foreigner’s documentation have to be evaluated carefully, before a visa is given, because our main responsibility as an institution is to make sure that all foreigners have been properly identified and registered. We also need to prevent foreigners taking jobs that could be filled by nationals,” said Sinisterra.
He added that the new immigration law contemplates the creation of the Immigration Consulting Council, that will dictate immigration policies in the country.
Under the new statute, the director has the prerogative to create policies at his own discretion. The Consulting Council from August 2009 will design and propose immigration policies, that will be put forward for ratification by the Cabinet Council and the President of the Republic.
The new law also takes into account field operations to detect illegal immigrants, a subject not mentioned in the old one.
Referring to what the Immigration Department is doing to detect hitmen and other criminal elements coming from abroad, Sinisterra said that the country has its security procedures in place to detect and detain them, but without a doubt and judging by their modus operandi many of them are coming from Colombia and Venezuela.
The director said that the best way to detect unsavory elements is through information and once the department is modernized Immigration will be able to carry out a more effective job.