Thursday, March 24, 2011

YO SOY UNA PENSIONADA

It is impossible to understand the process of becoming a Panamanian pensionada (retired permanent resident) without experiencing it.

Today was the last two step of a process that began nearly a year ago:  getting my photo ID card at the "new" immigration office in Panama City, then getting my multi-entry visa at the "old" immigration office across town.

My attorney's husband got up at 4:00 am to get a place in line at the "new" office, which opens at 8:00.  He was number 5. They can process only 35 a day. Then his wife, my attorney, called me at the hotel at about 9:30 to come on over in a taxi. We finished there at about 11:00 am, after having to get my ID card twice because they made a mistake on the first one.

Then we went over to the "old" office to get my passport stamped with the multi-entry visa. There were about 5 people ahead of me in line. After about an hour my attorney sat down to rest while I held our place in line. Then after another hour I got to sit down while she held my place. Then she found out she had to go somewhere else to sign a paper on another case, so her poor beleaguered husband showed up to take both of our places in line while my lawyer took me back to my hotel. I gave my passport to him, hoping that I would see it again by tomorrow afternoon for my flight to BWI to visit with my son and to finish cleaning out my "stuff" from the house.

The lawyer's husband called me at about 3:30 to say he had the stamp and was on his way to deliver my passport to me.

And these were just the last two steps. There were several steps before that, but today's experience is enough to give you an idea.

But now I can say I have my Temporary Pensionada, which entitles me to many deep discounts. I also don't need to leave the country every 90 or 180 days (no one is sure which applies - the 180 days is a new policy but is up to the individual immigration officer's discretion evidently).

 And I will need to repeat the process in a year to get my permanent visa.

Was it worth it?

Yes.


-bjd

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