Many people wish to leave their hometowns and start a new life in other countries without a specific purpose, hoping they will find an opportunity when they arrive. However, the immigration policies may offer some challenges for those wishing to become expats and it is important to fully understand the immigration laws in your desired country of destination before making lots of plans.
Living in Brazil is a dream for many foreigners. It is known for being a stable country, with no declared conflicts, and overall growing economy, which offers many great job opportunities for expats. It is also a beautiful country, with incredible natural landscapes and diverse environment, not to mention a laid-back attitude and friendly welcoming people, which attracts people especially from North America and Europe.
Nevertheless, obtaining a Brazilian visa can be a very time-consuming and bureaucratic process, oftenly stressful and frustrating. Brazil applies the reciprocity policy, so it treats foreign citizens according to how their country of nationality treats Brazilians. That means that citizens from most western countriesare not required to issue a Brazilian visa when visiting Brazil for less than 90 days (with the exception of USA).
Types of Visas and requirements
The visa is a compulsory authorization that enables the entrance of a foreigner to the country. For most nationalities, the visa is issued only abroad at the Brazilian Embassy in the applicant’s country of residence. The Brazilian Government grants seven different types of visas for foreigners wishing to travel to the country. The visas will depend on the reason for travel and length of stay:
Specifically issued for foreigners passing through Brazil during a trip before arriving at the final destination. The length of stay cannot exceed ten days.
Designed for those visiting the country without any migratory or business intention. The length of stay is of 90 days, extendable only once.
Issued for travelers with cultural, educational, business, work and artistic purposes. There are different types of Temporary visas and length of stay allowed varies according to them, depending on the activity to be performed.
Issued for foreigners who intend to live in Brazil. When the permanent visa is work-related, it will require previous authorization from the Ministry of Labor.
Designed for foreign domestic employees of mission chiefs and consulate/diplomatic employees; foreign authorities unofficially visiting the country, and dependents on official or diplomatic visa bearers. The length of stay is 90 months, extension allowed.
Designed for employees of international bodies on official mission and the employees of embassies and consulates without diplomatic status. Valid up for two years, or the period of the mission.
Designed for diplomats and employees with diplomatic status, and the heads of offices representing international bodies.
Law 6815 of August 19, 1980, regulated by Decree 86.715, of December 10, 1981, establishes the general standards and guidelines related to the legal status of foreigners in Brazil,including all the relevant information for a foreigner to become involved in work activities in the country.
The foreign visitor must complete a form for visa application (Formulário de Pedido de Visto) – available in Portuguese, Spanish, French and English – individually. The application for a visa to enter Brazil can be filed at any Brazilian consulate abroad. It is required to pay a fee, which varies according to the type of visa requested.It is important to remember that the passport should have at least a validity of six months from the time of the visa application. You must also submit a recent colored photo of 3×4 cm with white background.
The visas that can guarantee that you will develop work activities in legal terms can be divided into temporary and permanent work visas, which one with different types depending on the activity to be performed.
Temporary Work Visas
Professionals with Employment Agreement
People who will perform temporary work-related activity in a Brazilian company (or a foreign company with a Brazilian branch) can apply for the visa RN 99 (with an employment agreement. The visa can be granted for a period of initially two years and may be extended to a maximum of two years.
This is meant for employees with a knowledge or an expertise not found in Brazil, leaving the company with no choice but to import an experienced worked from another country. The Ministry of Labor in Brazil will require several documents from the company, justifying the hiring of a foreign professional instead of a Brazilian one, and the worker must be able to prove at least 2 years of experience in that particular area or a minimum of 9 years education.
The company must comply with the rule of “two thirds”, which determines that 2/3 of the company’s positions are fulfilled by Brazilian citizens and 2/3 of the amount of the company’s payroll is owned by Brazilian employees.
Technicians without Employment Agreement
The technician visa applies to foreigners who come to Brazil on short-term specifically to provide technical assistance or technology transfer (technical training) to Brazilian employees.The visa may be granted for a period of one years in the case of technology transfer, or for 90 days in the case of technical assistance. In emergency cases, the visa may be granted by the Brazilian Consulate with jurisdiction over the individual’s residence for a period not extended of thirty days. These type of visa is rare and will only be granted in cases where the situation offers imminent risk to life, to environment, to national heritage, or that generated the interruption of production or provision of services.
Artists and Sportspeople
This visa request must be submitted to the Ministry of Labor in Brazil by the Brazilian organization that is sponsoring the event for which the services are being requested. Requires information about the event and the respective contract.
This visa is meant for foreign journalists working temporarily in Brazil as to correspondents of foreign media. The candidate may not receive their salary in Brazil. The visa must be made directly to the Brazilian Consulate abroad with jurisdiction over the individual’s residence.
A ships’ crew are required to obtain a visa authorization for the operation of the ship in national waters by filling a Navy report and attaching a copy of the contract. Brazilians must form part of the crew.
This visa is designed for teachers, technicians, scientists and researchers wishing to undertake activities in Brazilian schools or universities, or in research institutions (both public and private). A letter of support from the institution sponsor for the visit of the scientist is necessary, besides the term of employment or the employment agreement.
This visa is designed for foreigners coming to Brazil to provide religious services or social assistance as volunteers. The foreigner may not receive compensation for voluntary work in Brazil and the length of stay is 2 years.
Permanent Work Visa
The Permanent visa can be issued under three circumstances:
- family relationship with a Brazilian citizen (marriage, children)
- nomination for a representation and management position in a Brazilian company (executive officer)
People who are married to a Brazilian citizen or have a Brazilian child can apply for a permanent visa at the Brazilian Consulate abroad before coming to the country, or can request it at the Ministry of Justice in Brazil through the Federal Police Department. Foreigners holding a Permanent visa will be authorized to work in the country.
The permanent visa may also be granted in the case of a foreign company wanting to transfer a director or manager to one of its Brazilian branches.The company must have at least US$ 200,000 of foreign investment registered in the Central Bank of Brazil, or have generated during the year preceding the coming of the foreigner, an increase in payroll – due to new jobs – equal to or greater than 20% or 240 minimum wages in the year.
I don’t fulfill the requirements for a work visa, but I still want to live in Brazil. What can I do?
Don’t panic! The first thing you must consider is money. Living in Brazil is expensive, especially in the big capital cities, and if you are planning to move there with no job offers, you must be able to support yourself for at least 3 months. Cost of living varies a lot from one city to another, so you might want to contact people who live in the city you wish to move to and ask for advice.
The second things is: you do not want to be an illegal immigrant. Without a job offer, the only alternatives for temporary visas are for studies, tourism and business travels. All, except tourism, will require an Invitation Letter from the Brazilian company (in case of business) or educational institution (for studies) for the visa application process. So the easiest choice would be to get a tourist visa initially – but do not try to work on it, you can get into very serious problems, including deportation, and lose all your investment.
The tourist visa is valid for 90 days and can be renewed for more 90 days, which means you can stay in Brazil for 6 months. This will give you enough time to find a job opportunity and do networking in the country. Once you have the formal job offer, you can apply for a temporary visa in Brazil and then, to the work permit.
The criteria for approval of a work visa include: educational qualifications or work experience, a secured work contract in Brazil, proof of adequate means of subsistence in Brazil (salary mentioned in the work contract), Police Clearance record, and medical examination. After your temporary visa expired, you will be able to apply for a permanent residence visa.
Another alternative would be to apply for a permanent residence. For that, you will have to invest in Brazil. The investor visa is issued to those who plan to establish a business in the country and it is valid for five years. The investment can be done in a corporation already settled or can be used for a new one. The foreign must invest a minimum amount of BRL 150.000,00 in foreign currency. It is possible to get a concession of a permanent visa with an investment lower than the one previously mentioned, but in this case, the concept of social development will be considered, according to the following criteria:
- Amount of jobs to be created in Brazil
- Increase of productivity
- Assimilation of technology
- Fundraising for a specific sector
It is important to say that the National Immigration Council gives preference to investments from South American entrepreneurs.
I am a Mercosur citizen, does that make any difference?
Yes, things are much easier. Mercosul citizens do not need a work permit in Brazil. People from Argentina, Venezuela, Uruguay and Paraguay don’t need any visa to enter the country and are allowed to stay here for 180 days only carrying their IDs or passport. Within the 180 days, they can apply for a temporary visa of two years, without any justification. Obtained the temporary residence, the person will be entitled to work under equal conditions of Brazilians. After two years, they can apply for a permanent visa.
- Get your CPF (Cadastro de Pessoa Física) card ASAP. It will be required for pretty much any financial transaction in Brazil, from buying a local SIM card to opening a bank account.
- Inform your bank before you travel and make sure you will be able to withdraw money in Brazil.
- Brazil has several NGO’s and volunteer opportunities. It could be a good start: you will be able to ask for a visa and give back to the Brazilian community.
- Brazil has a high demand for English teachers, so it could be an easy way to start.
 Citizens from the following countries are visa exempt: Andorra, Argentina, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Guiana, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungry, Ireland, Island, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Malaysia, Malta, Monaco, Morocco, Namibia, Netherland, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Vatican, Venezuela (up to 60 days).