In order for a foreigner to legally work in Panama, a work permit must be requested. An applicant under the residency-by-investment program can’t obtain a work permit, unless said applicant is hired by a Panamanian company in which the percentage of foreign labor does not surpass 10 percent of the total payroll. You may still open your own business, with the limitation that you shouldn’t work for it, without a work permit.
Can Panama residency-by-investment applicants who purchased real estate properties worth $300,000 legally work in the country?
How can I work legally if I purchased a real estate property worth $300,000 and obtained investment residency status in Panama? Can I open my own business here? Can I work for other employers?
Panama's labor law has specific dispositions where a resident can obtain a work permit, which is mandatory to work legally in the country. Unfortunately, residency-by-investment such as the self-solvency visa does not qualify to apply for a work permit. To work for other employers there are other residency categories that can lead to obtaining a work permit. However, after 10 years of permanent residency, any resident can file for a work permit. Hence, any foreigner can invest and open their own business in the country too.
Please note that Panama residency-by-investment applicants cannot get a work permit in the country. They are allowed to work in their own business, but they cannot apply for a work permit under that type of visa, therefore they cannot work for other employers. If you are interested in a work permit, you should apply to another visa.