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Panama

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

Panama
Migration inflows (foreign nationals) Persons Per 1000 inhabitants Percent change
  2010 2011 2012 2013 2013 2013/2010
Permanent 2440.7341772152 3693 5112 3981 1.0302341770678 63.106660166582
Temporary 3156.2658227848 2646 4519 1764 0.45650165494789 -44.111171268724
Permanent migration inflows (foreign nationals) by type Persons   % distribution      
  2011 2013 2011 2013    
Family 1700 2207 46.033035472516 55.438332077367    
Humanitarian 0 524 0 13.162521979402    
Work 473 778 12.808015163823 19.542828435067    
Other 1520 472 41.158949363661 11.856317508164    
Total 3693 3981 100 100    
Temporary migration inflows (foreign nationals) by type Persons   % distribution      
  2011 2013 2011 2013    
Family 94 84 3.5525321239607 4.7619047619048    
Humanitarian 1 195 0.037792894935752 11.054421768707    
International agreements 160 68 6.0468631897203 3.8548752834467    
Study 685 341 25.88813303099 19.331065759637    
Work 1696 1053 64.096749811036 59.69387755102    
Other 10 23 0.37792894935752 1.3038548752834    
Total 2646 1764 100 100    
Migration outflows (nationals) Persons       % of total % change
            outflows
From unstandardised destination country data 2009 2010 2011 2012 2012 2012/2009
All countries 5189 4590 4302 4079 100 -21.39140489497
United States 3257 2868 2610 2549 62.490806570238 -21.737795517347
Spain 430 371 360 330 8.090218190733 -23.255813953488
Chile 302 213 217 170 4.1676881588625 -43.708609271523
Mexico 231 231 190 167 4.0941407207649 -27.705627705628
Asylum seekers and refugees Per million inhabitants         Number of persons
          Average 2010-2013  
  2010 2011 2012 2013   2013
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          
  1985-1990 1990-1995 1995-2000 2000-2005 2005-2010  
Total 21.52 20.63 20.51 19.4 17.74  
Natural increase 22.27 20.582 19.751 18.332 16.436  
Net migration -0.75 0.047999999999998 0.759 1.068 1.304  
Foreign-born population Percentage of the total population       Persons % change
          (thousands)  
  1990 2000 2010 2013 2013 2013/2010
  2.4803601128529 2.8280300064292 3.8328193037328 4.0996384734626 158.417 6.9614335711048
Remittances Millions of dollars       % of GDP % change
  2010 2011 2012 2013 2013 2013/2010
  297 592 601 794 2.7 167.34006734007
Macroeconomic indicators Annual growth in %       Average annual growth Level
  2010 2011 2012 2013 2010-2013 2013
Real GDP 5.8519539256175 10.770221390476 10.246960657747 8.3522533981216 8.8053473429904 -
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          
  Men   Women   Total  
  2010-11 2012-13 2010-11 2012-13 2010-11 2012-13
Participation rate 76.40308 82.00233 73.88195 71.0808 74.9567 75.7958
Employment rate 66.06105 73.78622 65.58474 65.3362 65.78779 68.98421
Unemployment rate nr nr nr nr 12.23227 8.986767