IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? Beginning Oct. 1, Panama will require that Venezuelan nationals obtain a visa at a Panamanian consulate before travel. The new policy was set out in Decree 473, which was published today.

What does the change mean? After Sept. 30, Venezuelans will no longer be able to rely on their visa-waived status and should plan travel dates accordingly.

  • Implementation time frame: Oct. 1.
  • Visas/permits affected: Business/tourist visas.
  • Who is affected: All Venezuelan nationals traveling to Panama.
  • Impact on processing times: Applying for a visa at a consulate can take several days to several weeks, depending on the location.
  • Business impact: Employers and Venezuelan employees should factor in additional time to obtain a visa and may need to rearrange business schedules and travel dates. Venezuelan nationals who hold a multiple-entry visa for the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom or Australia that is valid for at least one year from the date of travel to Panama will be visa-exempt.
  • Next steps: Venezuelans may continue to travel without a visa until Sept. 30. Those traveling Oct. 1 and later must apply for a business/tourist visa that will be valid for 30 days initially and extendable for up to an additional 60 days.

Background: Citing Venezuela’s “break in the democratic order,” Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela announced the visa policy Tuesday, days after a visit from U.S. Vice President Mike Pence. Venezuela has been in a constitutional crisis since President Nicolas Maduro put together a constituent assembly with power to revise the constitution.

Under the new policy, all Venezuelans traveling to Panama must first obtain a visa by applying at a consulate, providing supporting documents and obtaining a visa stamp in their passport that must be used within three months.

BAL Analysis: Companies sending Venezuelan employees to Panama after September should plan ahead and allow for extra time to obtain a visa.