From 2010-2013 period, permanent immigration to Panama has increased over 60 per cent. The percentage of the foreign-born among the total population in Panama has risen continuously in recent decades, from 2.5% in 1990 to 4.1% in 2013.
By contrast, Panamanian emigration has declined steadily. Between 2009 and 2012, recorded outflows showed a decrease of more than a fifth. The United States, Spain, Chile and Mexico are the main countries of destination for Panamanian nationals, the U.S. predominating with more than 60% of emigrants.
The situation of Panamanians in the labor market of OECD countries has improved in recent years. Though the rate of participation has increased only slightly from 2010-2011 to 2012-2013, the rate of employment went up 3.2 percentage points.
For the year 2013, Panama received 827 asylum requests – mainly from Colombia, Cuba and Ghana – while between 2006 and 2010, the average number of requests was 388. In the same year (2013), the country was home to 17,615 refugees, a majority of them from Colombia, followed by Cuba, El Salvador and Nicaragua.
Also in 2013, Panama received 794 million dollars in remittances, representing approximately 3% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In comparison with 2012, the rate of growth of remittances was 9.2%.
According to statistics available from the General Administration of Financial Enterprises of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, remittances to foreign countries have increased some 16%, reaching 374 million dollars in 2013. The main countries receiving these remittances are: Colombia, China, United States, Nicaragua and Dominican Republic, while incoming remittances are mainly from the United States, Colombia and Costa Rica.
In the year 2010, Panama began a regularization of immigrants through a programme known as “Panamá Crisol de Razas.” From 2010 to 2014, the government approved approximately 60,000 provisional legal stay permits for irregular migrants, according to figures from the National Immigration Service of the country’s Ministry of Public Safety. Colombian nationals top the number of regularized migrants, followed by Nicaraguans, Dominicans and Venezuelans. The National Assembly of Panama recently (2014) has approved a bill ending the massive legalization program of irregular immigrants.
In 2012, a series of Executive Orders was approved which change the regulations concerning entry and stay in the country, facilitating access for tourists, temporary workers and foreigners who wish to remain in the country. Tourists from more than 40 countries are exempt from visa requirements, and temporary workers with a work contract now face relaxed visa requirements. In addition, provisions for granting permanent residence were introduced for professionals, nationals of specific countries that have friendly relations with Panama, and parents of Panamanian children.
With the aim of repealing “Crisol de Razas”, among other reasons, a draft bill was introduced for discussion in 2014. Under the draft bill, immigrants must communicate any change of residence to the Registry of Aliens within a one-month period. Failure to do so may lead to the cancelation of the right of residence. In addition, the draft bill proposes the establishment of a roundtable to discuss the creation of a new Immigration Code to replace current immigration law. Lastly, the draft bill proposes the repeal of Executive Order 107, of 2011, which aimed at regulate work permits to foreigners with temporary residence permit.
Recent trends in migrant’s flows and stocks and in labor market outcomes of emigrants
|Migration inflows (foreign nationals)||Persons||Per 1000 inhabitants||Percent change|
|Permanent migration inflows (foreign nationals) by type||Persons||% distribution|
|Temporary migration inflows (foreign nationals) by type||Persons||% distribution|
|Migration outflows (nationals)||Persons||% of total||% change|
|From unstandardised destination country data||2009||2010||2011||2012||2012||2012/2009|
|Asylum seekers and refugees||Per million inhabitants||Number of persons|
|Inflows of asylum seekers||163.40402392605||373.23388985109||198.82801928632||214.01749923011||237.37085807339||827|
|Refugees resident in the country||4641.924959217||4615.1600333879||4583.8274446313||4571.4862441352||4603.0996703428||17665|
|Components of population growth||Per 1000 inhabitants|
|Foreign-born population||Percentage of the total population||Persons||% change|
|Remittances||Millions of dollars||% of GDP||% change|
|Macroeconomic indicators||Annual growth in %||Average annual growth||Level|
|GDP/per capita ((PPP ) in constant 2011 international dollars)||4.0513898616632||8.9111165936592||8.4212329324366||6.5869293409508||6.9926671821774||18793|
|Labour market outcomes of emigrants in Europe and the United States||Percentages|