The Policy Did Not Change For US Tourist.
The information was very confusing until the Embassy got the correct information from the Panamanian Government and passed it on. Some countries will be effected by the new decree.
Changes are frequent in Panama.
I hate to see this happen for the honest people using the old 180 days tourist visa (border hopping was LEGAL and still is) or the 90 days tourist visa with driving on a foriegn drivers license privalge and not working here illegal. There are people here that can NOT afford to live in the USA on Social Security. And, those living here on Social Security will have a difficult time getting residency because some live from check to check. Also, those living here on small social security checks will have difficulty staying out of the country for 72 hours or more on their income. IF, and I say ,IF, you get a good lawyer you can get residency in 4 months. I had a good lawyer and got mine in 4 months. Some of these lawyers will have to do a better job now. But the vote is out on that. And, about over staying a visa in the USA----not everyone gets a tourist visa to over stay. The USA doesn't have the open visa policy. In other words, a tourist visa for Panama is automatic if you are not a wanted criminal listed with interpol or Panama and if you are "clean" you are stamped in at all immigrations points and in the USA you have to apply ahead of time through an embassy. Most panamanians are refused tourist visas to the USA. Some people don't know this. We were in Panama for my girl friend's visa and 7 out of the first 10 in line were denied. The reason given for denial up front by the interviwer was----the U.S. is afraid you won't return to Panama (over stay.) So, I would Not compare Panama to the USA on immigration. Panama is a friendly nation when it comes to Tourist Visas and the USA is not-----because we vette more on terrorism, over staying visas (not much enforcement once overstayed) and illegal workers sneaking across borders without visas. I will say that Colombia and Venezuela have caused this problem. And, to "NOT" discriminate they are giving equal opportunity for all on tourist visas unless there is something I'm missing------(now as of 12-28-2016 they are discriminating for good reason.)The other visas will be for people that can afford them such as the Friendly Nation Visa and that will help eliminate the illegal employment here. Visitors will need to abide by the rules-------So will residents. Panama had to do something on immigration for a lot of reasons not just because of expats using the 180 rule. My 3 cents worth. Whether you agree with me or not it is new policy. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.