The Corporate Immigration Review: Brazil
Introduction to the immigration framework
Brazil's population is approximately 213 million.2 Immigration has been essential for the development of Brazil since its discovery by the Portuguese in 1500, and it is still considered a key factor for the future of the country.
Since the enactment of the Migration Law3 approved in 2017, policies have aimed at making the process of coming to Brazil easier and faster for foreign nationals, expediting and facilitating the granting of certain work visas and also granting immediate residence status for family reunion in addition to facilitating the process for nationals who are covered under the Mercosur Agreement and its associated countries, as well as to nationals of border countries who are not part of the Mercosur Agreement.
The fact that immigration into countries in North America, Europe and Asia is restricted represents an opportunity for Brazil, which, because of its current rules, not only allows, but also in fact encourages, foreign nationals travelling from all the world to study and work in the country. Due to covid-19, there is a temporary exception for foreigners travelling directly from the UK, North Ireland and South Africa, or who have been in those countries sometime during the 14 days prior to travelling to Brazil.
While other countries around the globe are restricting the entrance of refugees, Brazil's Migration Law and its implementing decree, Decree No. 9,199, are primarily focused on the importance of humanitarian rights for foreign nationals and allowing refugees to travel to Brazil and apply for resident status while in the country.
i Legislation and policy4
On 4 August 2016, Brazil joined the Hague Apostille Convention5 to expedite and simplify the legalisation of documents between Convention Member States.
On 21 November 2017, the Migration Law and Decree No. 9,199 entered into effect, establishing rules for the entry and residence of immigrants in Brazil.
Under the Migration Law, it is possible for someone in Brazil with irregular immigration status to apply for a residence permit if, for example, the individual has a job offer. This represents an option for immigrants to regularise their immigration status, even though no amnesty was contemplated in the law, provided that they pay the fine for an irregular stay – 100 reais per day, up to a maximum of 10,000 reais.
In addition, under the Migration Law there is no permanent visa: the options are either a temporary visa, issued for a certain period (which varies depending on the type of visa), or a residence permit, for either a definite or an indefinite term, depending on the basis on which it is granted. The residence permit ceases once the establishing conditions no longer exist, but it is possible to apply for another residence permit under a different type.
Moreover, foreign nationals with a university degree will be able to apply for a work visa, irrespective of whether a company sponsors the visa. The rules governing this option have still to be published in a specific normative resolution (NR).
In addition, the current legislation introduced the category of visit visas that is a broader visa than the former tourist, business and transit visas.
On 16 March 2019, Decree No. 9,731 was published in the Official Gazette, exempting Australian, Canadian, Japanese and US citizens from having to apply for a visitor's visa to travel to Brazil. (Note, however, that Decree No. 9,731 only entered into effect as of 17 June 2019.) Since then, Australian, Canadian, Japanese and US citizens became visa-exempt for tourism, business and transit purposes, and for certain work activities, including consulting, auditing, offshore work and artistic and sports activities. Upon arrival in Brazil, they can be granted a maximum stay of 90 days in a single trip but are limited to a maximum stay of 180 days per migration year (i.e., a one-year period counted from the date of first entry). For activities of a work nature, the term of the stay cannot be more than 90 days.
In view of the Brazilian authorities' concern for human rights, there are two categories of visas that can be obtained for humanitarian and health purposes (visas were already granted for those reasons, but they are now distinct visa categories specified by law).
The National Immigration Council (CNIg) continues in the same role under the Migration Law. To date, the former Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Justice have issued a number of NRs and inter-ministerial ordinances in relation to work visas and residence permits, and these are listed below.
Moreover, because of the covid-19 global pandemic, on 17 March 2020, Brazil closed all its borders, irrespective of means of transportation, on a temporary and exceptional basis. However, since 29 July 2020, Brazil has started to allow entrance by air, and has only been restricting the entrance of foreigners of any nationality by road and other land or waterway transport, always based on a technical and reasoned recommendation from the National Health Surveillance Agency - Anvisa for health reasons related to risks of contamination and the spread of covid-19. The ordinances have normally been issued with a validity of 30 days, and the one currently in effect does not have an expiry date.
Note that the restrictions do not apply to:
- people born in Brazil or naturalised Brazilians;
- immigrants with permanent residence in Brazil, for a fixed or indefinite term;
- duly identified foreign professionals in a mission serving an international organisation;
- foreign employees accredited to the government;
- spouses, partners, children, , parents or curators of a Brazilian citizen;
- foreigners whose entry is specifically authorised by the government due to public interests or for humanitarian reasons; and
- bearers of the National Migration Registry (the Brazilian ID card for foreigners).
Such measures also do not prevent:
- the execution of cross-border humanitarian actions previously authorised by the local health authorities;
- the traffic of border residents in twin cities, upon presentation of a border resident document or other supporting document, provided that reciprocity in the treatment of Brazilians by the neighbouring country is guaranteed; and
- the free traffic of road cargo transportation, even if the driver does not fit the restriction exemptions.
Furthermore, since 14 October 2020, a further exception was created to allow entrance of foreigners coming from Paraguay by road or other land transportation.
Taking into account that, in most cases, our globally mobile community travels by air, there are currently no restrictions for foreigners to travel to Brazil, with the exception of foreigners leaving the UK, North Ireland or South Africa, or who have been in those countries during the 14 days prior to travelling to Brazil. Therefore, in all other cases, irrespective of their nationality, foreigners are eligible to enter Brazil by air, provided that the migratory requirements appropriate to their condition are complied with, including to carry an entry visa when required by the Brazilian legal system.
NRs issued by the CNIg
To date, the following resolutions have been issued by the CNIg:
- No. 1/17 of 1 December, as amended by No. 31/18 of 12 June and No. 37/19 of 28 August: general procedures for work permit applications;
- No. 2/17 of 1 December: temporary visas and residence permits for work purposes with employment contracts in Brazil;
- No. 3/17 of 1 December, as amended by No. 34/18 of 14 August: temporary visas and residence permits for work purposes without an employment relationship in Brazil for the rendering of technical assistance services;
- No. 4/17 of 1 December: temporary visas and residence permits for work purposes without an employment relationship in Brazil for transfer of technology;
- No. 5/17 of 1 December, as amended by No. 43/20 of 23 July: temporary visas and residence permits for work purposes without an employment relationship in Brazil for a seaman who works on board a cruise ship navigating the Brazilian coast;
- No. 6/17 of 1 December, as amended by No. 42/20 of 23 July: temporary visas and residence permits for work purposes without an employment relationship in Brazil to act as a seaman on board a foreign-flag vessel or platform;
- No. 7/17 of 1 December: temporary visas and residence permits for work purposes without an employment relationship in Brazil to provide services or technical assistance to the Brazilian government;
- No. 8/17 of 1 December, as amended by No. 29/18 of 12 June: temporary visas and residence permits for work purposes without an employment relationship in Brazil under an international cooperation agreement;
- No. 9/17 of 1 December: temporary visas and residence permits for work purposes without an employment relationship in Brazil to represent, in Brazil, a financial institution or similar institution based abroad;
- No. 10/17 of 1 December: temporary visas and residence permits for work purposes without an employment relationship in Brazil to represent a non-profit private legal entity;
- No. 11/17 of 1 December: temporary visas, concomitant authorisations and residence permits for administrators, managers, officers or executives with management powers to represent a civil or commercial society, group or economic conglomerate or legal entity, as well as concomitant authorisations for members of the board of directors;
- No. 12/17 of 1 December: temporary visas and residence permits for the exercise of a position, function or assignment, without an employment relationship, for an indefinite term, because specific federal legislation requires residence in Brazil;
- No. 13/17 of 12 December: temporary visas and residence permits for individual foreign investors;
- No. 14/17 of 12 December, as amended by No. 28/18 of 10 April and No. 32/18 of 14 August: temporary visas and residence permits for religious activities;
- No. 15/17 of 12 December, as amended by No. 28/18 of 10 April: temporary visas and residence permits for the provision of voluntary services to a non-profit public or private entity or an organisation linked with a foreign government;
- No. 16/17 of 12 December: temporary visas and residence permits for performing artistic or sports activities, with a fixed-term contract, without an employment relationship with an individual or legal entity based in Brazil;
- No. 17/17 of 12 December: temporary visas and residence permits for work purposes without an employment relationship in Brazil to perform an activity as a correspondent for a foreign newspaper, magazine, radio, television or news agency;
- No. 18/17 of 12 December: temporary visas and residence permits for work purposes without an employment relationship in Brazil for an immigrant linked to an economic group whose headquarters are in Brazil with a view to training and assimilating the business culture and management methodology of the company concerned;
- No. 19/17 of 12 December: temporary visas and residence permits for work purposes without an employment relationship in Brazil to receive professional training from a Brazilian subsidiary, branch or headquarters;
- No. 20/17 of 12 December, as amended by No. 27/18 of 10 April and No. 33/18 of 3 October: temporary visas and residence permits for research, teaching or academic extension for a scientist, researcher or teacher, and for foreign professionals who intend to come to the country, with a term of stay of more than 90 days;
- No. 21/17 of 12 December: temporary visas and residence permits for work purposes with an employment contract in Brazil for a professional athlete, as defined by law;
- No. 22/17 of 12 December: temporary visas and residence permits for work purposes without an employment relationship in Brazil to act as a seaman on board a foreign fishing vessel leased by a Brazilian company;
- No. 23/17 of 12 December, as amended by No. 38/19 of 28 August: special cases for the granting of residence permits related to labour-related issues for assessment by the National Council of Immigration;
- No. 24/18 of 20 February: temporary visas and residence permits for research, teaching or academic extension with an employment contract in Brazil;
- No. 25/18 of 20 February: temporary visas and residence permits for minors between the ages of 14 and 18 for performing sports activities;
- No. 26/18 of 20 February, in effect as of April 2: temporary visas and residence permits for work purposes for professional internships or professional exchange programmes;
- No. 30/18 of 12 June, in effect as of 25 July, as amended by Nos. 32/18 of 14 August and 41/18 of 2 October: renewal of the term of residence permits or a change to an indefinite term;
- No. 35/18 of 14 August, in effect as of 26 October: temporary visas and residence permits for work purposes without an employment relationship in Brazil for receiving training in the handling, operation and maintenance of machines, equipment and other goods manufactured in Brazil;
- No. 36/18 of 9 October, in effect as of 21 November: temporary visas and residence permits based on real estate investments in Brazil;
- No. 39/19 of 28 August, in effect as of 3 October: revoking NRs issued under the former Foreigners Statute; and
- No. 40/19 of 2 October, in effect as of 27 November: temporary visas and residence permits based on retirement or pension benefits because of death.
Inter-ministerial ordinances issued by the Ministry of Justice and Public Security
The following ordinances were issued by the Ministry of Justice and Public Security or jointly with other Ministries:
- No. 3, of 27 February 2018: provides for the procedures to be followed in relation to the processing of applications for residence permits, registration and issuance of the national migratory registration card (CRNM), specifying the required documentation for such applications and defining the procedures for registering residence permits granted to refugees, stateless persons and asylum seekers;
- No. 5, of 27 February 2018, as amended by No. 16/18, of 3 October: provides for the procedure for recognising the status of being stateless and the resulting facilitated naturalisation;
- No. 6, of 12 March 2018: provides for the procedure for loss and cancellation of a residence permit;
- No. 7, of 13 March 2018: provides for the granting of a temporary visa and residence permit for study purposes;
- No. 8, of 13 March 2018: provides for the granting of a temporary visa and residence permit for a health treatment;
- No. 12, of 13 June 2018: provides for the granting of temporary visas and residence permits for family reunion;
- No. 3, of 3 July 2019: provides for the procedures to be adopted in relation to the processing of applications to change a diplomatic or official visa into a residence permit;
- No. 4, of 26 July 2019: provides for the procedures for granting residence permits to Cuban nationals who were part of the 'More Doctors for Brazil' programme6 to meet the interests of national migration policies;
- No. 5, of 26 July 2019: provides for the granting of residence permits to nationals of the Dominican Republic who have an ongoing process for recognition of refugee status in Brazil;
- No. 7, of 19 August 2019: provides for the regulation to prevent the entry into Brazil of senior officials of the Venezuelan regime who, by their acts, contradict principles and objectives of the Brazilian Federal Constitution, undermining democracy, the dignity of the human person and the prevalence of human rights;
- No. 8, of 8 October 2019: provides for the procedures to be adopted in relation to the processing of requests for special naturalisation;
- No. 9, of 8 October 2019: provides for the procedures for granting temporary visas and related residence permits for the purpose of humanitarian reception of persons affected by the armed conflict in the Arab Republic of Syria;
- No. 10, of 5 December 2019: provides for the procedures for granting residence permits to nationals of Senegal who have an ongoing process for recognition of refugee status in Brazil;
- No. 18-DIREX-PF, of 19 October 2020: provides for the resumption of the course of migratory periods within the scope of the Federal Police;
- No. 13, of 16 December 2020: provides for the granting of temporary visas and residence permits for the purposes of humanitarian reception of Haitian nationals and stateless persons residing in Haiti;
- No. 652, of 25 January 2021: provides for the exceptional and temporary restriction on the entry of foreigners into the country, of any nationality, as recommended by the National Health Surveillance Agency - Anvisa; and
- MJSP/MRE No. 19, of 23 March 2021: provides for the residence permit for immigrants who are in the Brazilian territory and are nationals of a border state in which the Mercosur Residence Agreement is not in force.
Ordinances issued by the Ministry of Justice and Public Security
- No. 217, of 27 February 2018: establishes the administrative proceedings relating to requests for extradition and precautionary arrest within the Ministry of Justice;
- No. 218, of 27 February 2018: provides for the procedure for assessing the condition of economic hardship for the purposes of exemption from fees for obtaining documents for regularisation of immigration status and for payment of fines;
- No. 8,166-DG/PF, of 21 March 2018: delegates competence in the procedures for loss and cancellation of residence permits in the proceedings for which the Federal Police is in charge;
- No. 197/2019, of 6 March 2019: procedures for processing residence permit applications, registration and issuance of the national migration registry card for a child or adolescent who is either a national of another country or stateless, unaccompanied or separated, who is found at a point of migration control on the Brazilian borders or in the national territory;
- No. 770/2019 of 11 October 2019: provides for the impediment of entry, repatriation and deportation of a dangerous person or of one who has practised an act contrary to the principles and objectives set out in the Constitution;
- No. 827/2019 of 19 November 2019: procedures for completing the form for payment of government fees in relation to applications for a residence permit for work and investment purposes;
- No. 11,264, of 24 January 2020: institutes new models of the CRNM and of the provisional document of the national migratory registry (DPRNM) with validity in all the national territory;
- No. 1, of 25 March 2020: provides for the suspension of procedural deadlines in the administrative proceedings under the jurisdiction of the Department of Migration;
- No. 2, of 20 March 2020: provides the suspension of procedural deadlines, face-to-face assistance and meetings of the National Committee for Refugees (Conare);
- No. 87, of 23 March 2020: provides for the granting of and procedures for residence permits for a person who has been a victim of human trafficking, slave labour or a violation of rights aggravated by his or her migratory condition;
- No. 222, of 19 May 2020: provides for delegation of competence to the Director of the Migration Department of the National Secretariat of Justice;
- No. 2, of 7 July 2020: provides for the resumption of procedural deadlines within the scope of the General Coordination of Labor Immigration;
- No. 4 Gab-Demig, of 21 October 2020: provides for the resumption of procedural deadlines in the administrative proceedings under the jurisdiction of the Department of Migration;
- Ordinance No. 9 of Senajus, of 6 November 2020: provides for the resumption of procedural deadlines, face-to-face assistance and meetings of Conare, the National Committee for Refugees;
- Ordinance No. 623, of 13 November 2020: provides for naturalisation, equal rights, nationality loss, nationality reacquisition and revocation of a decision of loss in Brazilian nationality proceedings;
- Ordinance No. 21-DIREX/PF, of 2 February 2021, in effect as of 8 March: provides for an extension to 16 September 2021 of the term for migratory regularisation in the Federal Police's sphere.
Ordinance issued by the former Ministry of Labour
Ordinance No. 85, of 18 June 2018, amended by No. 193 of 24 September 2018 provides for procedures for the issuance of labour cards and social security for immigrants.
Ordinance issued by the Ministry of Economy
Ordinance No. 1,065, of 23 September 2019 regulates the issuance of digital labour cards.
ii The immigration authorities
The new administration elected in January 2019 abolished the Ministry of Labour and Employment, formerly the government body overseeing the immigration processes and procedures for foreign nationals to work, study and reside in Brazil through the CNIg and the General Coordination of Labour Immigration (CGIL). Provisional Measure No. 870 and Decree No. 9,662, both issued on 1 January 2019, established DEMIG as the body structured to regulate and assess the immigration processes and procedures for foreign nationals to work, study and reside in Brazil, which are conducted through CNIg and CGIL.
Ministry of Justice and Public Security
The Ministry of Justice and Public Security is the government body that regulates nationality, immigration and other issues related to foreign nationals in general. DEMIG, the Immigration Division, regulates and assesses the immigration processes and procedures for foreign nationals to work, study and reside in Brazil, which are conducted through CNIg and CGIL.
CNIg is composed of appointed representatives from the Ministries of Economy, Justice and Public Security, Foreign Affairs, Agriculture, Science and Technology, Development, Industry and Foreign Trade, Health and Education, as well as representatives of companies and trade unions, and it is responsible for:
- formulating immigration policies and coordinating and directing immigration actions;
- regularly assessing the need for qualified foreign workers in relation to granting entry;
- undertaking research on immigration-related problems;
- issuing rules for immigrant selection aimed at providing specialist workers for the various sectors of the economy;
- collecting resources for specific sectors;
- clarifying and resolving undefined areas in immigration-related cases;
- providing opinions on changes to immigration law proposed by any sector of the executive branch; and
- creating internal control regulations, subject to the approval of the Minister of Justice and Public Security.
In the case of special situations not contemplated in the migration legislation or NRs, requests for visas and residency permits may be addressed directly to CNIg, as provided in NR No. 23/17.
Requests for a residency permit for those who had filed for refugee status before 21 November 2017, and now want to apply for residence based on work, as provided in Joint Resolution No. 01, of 9 October 2018, issued by CNIg and Conare, must also be addressed to CNIG.
CGIL is responsible for the assessment and granting of requests for advance residence authorisations for the issuance of temporary visas and residence permits for foreign nationals who are coming to work in Brazil or for investment, training, internship, retirement or pension-based purposes.
Such applications are submitted by the interested party through MigranteWeb, the immigration management and control system.
National Justice Secretariat
The main duties of the National Justice Secretariat are to coordinate, in partnership with other administrative bodies, the national migration policy, particularly in relation to nationality, citizenship, the judicial regime and migration; the national refugee polic; and the national policy on combating human trafficking.
This division authorises the entry of foreign citizens at the port of entry into Brazil and extensions of stay while in Brazil.
Federal Police agents have discretionary power to allow the entry of foreign nationals into the country irrespective of whether they hold appropriate visas.
Registration with the Federal Police and entry on the CRNM system for those who carry temporary visas is mandatory within 90 days of the date of arrival in Brazil, or within 30 days of the date of publication of the granting of the residence permit by those who have their residence permit granted in Brazil. In some Brazilian states, failure to register within this period will preclude foreign nationals from re-entering the country and a new visa request process would be required. In the event of failure to register within the required deadline, the foreign national will be subject to a fine in an amount of 100 reais (for those entering Brazil) or a daily fine of 100 reais (for those who have their residence permit granted in Brazil). Visitor visas are exempt from registration with the Federal Police.
Conare is the collective body that brings together representative segments of the public sector, civil society and the United Nations, with the aim of:
- examining applications for recognition of refugee status;
- deciding on terminations of refugee status, ex officio or at the request of the competent authorities;
- issuing declarations of loss of refugee status;
- guiding and coordinating the actions needed for effective protection, assistance, local integration and legal support for refugees, with the participation of ministries and institutions within Conare; and
- approving normative instructions that enable the implementation of refugee-related legislation.
DEMIG, a division of the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, is responsible for instructing, analysing, deciding and forwarding processes and matters related to nationality, naturalisation, recognition of refugee status, statelessness, residence permits, smuggling of migrants, expulsion of foreigners and the legal regime for immigrants.
DEMIG also formulates and supports the implementation of public actions and policies to promote social and labour integration and the rights of migrants and refugees in Brazil.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the body responsible for foreign policy and Brazilian international relations at the bilateral, regional and multilateral levels. It advises the President on the formulation of Brazilian foreign policy and the implementation of diplomatic relations with foreign states and international organisations. Brazil has more than 220 representative institutions abroad, including embassies, consulates general, consulates, vice consulates, diplomatic missions or delegations, and offices. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through its embassies and consulates, is responsible for the issuance of visas to foreign nationals coming to Brazil.
iii Exemptions and favoured industries
In Brazil, there are no specific legal or favoured industries for immigration purposes. It is, however, mandatory, depending on the type of visa, to respect the two-thirds rule (at least two employees out of every three must be Brazilian),7 or have the candidates transfer technology or know-how, or train Brazilian-registered employees, so all industries that comply with these requirements may be seen as favoured industries: the more foreign manpower that can come to Brazil to transfer know-how and train the Brazilian labour force, the better.
International treaty obligations
Decree No. 6,975 of 7 October 2009 regulates the Agreement on Residency for Nationals of the States who are a party to the Mercosur Agreement.
The Mercosur Agreement applies to citizens of Mercosur signatories (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) and associated countries (Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru).
On the basis of the Mercosur Agreement, nationals of these countries may apply for temporary residence in any of the other member countries, and are entitled to work under the same conditions as a national, and after two years they may apply to change their temporary residence status to one of an indefinite term.
The application for temporary residence can be made either abroad or in Brazil, even if the candidate is in Brazil in an irregular situation, in which case he or she does not have to pay a fine and is not subject to any other administrative sanctions.
ii Schengen Agreement
Decree No. 7,821 of 5 October 2012 promulgated the Agreement between the Federative Republic of Brazil and the European Union on Short-Term Visa Waiver for Common Passports, signed in Brussels on 8 November 2010, and is applicable to individuals travelling for tourism or business purposes.
The year in review
The year 2020 was one of the most difficult in Brazilian modern history. The government's chaotic policies and national strategies were disastrous during the year, and are now being reviewed considering the real threat of covid-19 and its new lineages, such as the P.1 variant. At the time of writing, we had reached 317,646 deaths in Brazil due to covid-19.8
The government is facing a daily increase in the number of deaths – now estimated as nearing 4,000 per day – and, due to the strength of covid-19 new lineages, stronger actions need to be taken. Brazil finds itself in 2021 in a much worse position than it was in 2020 at the same time of the year, when the global pandemic started. There is a perception of things hopefully getting better and reaching a new normal as more people are being vaccinated.
There is a fear of the Brazilian economy collapsing due to the unemployment numbers and the difficulty the informal market faces in restructuring itself.
Lockdown is now the word of order, and immediate vaccination for the whole population is what the country is eager for.
While the region struggles to control the covid-19 pandemic, Brazil has open air entrance to all foreign nationals, with the exception of those who travel directly from the UK, North Ireland or South Africa, or who have been to such countries during the 14 days prior to their intended departure to Brazil.
Except for individuals coming from Venezuela by land, and irrespective of the type of transportation (by air, land or water), foreign nationals who meet the exceptional criteria listed in Section I are also exempt from the extraordinary temporary restrictions imposed by the government due to covid-19.
In respect of water transportation, disembarkation may be authorised exceptionally if medical assistance is required, or to allow foreign nationals to take a connecting flight to their applicable country of origin.
In the case of air transportation, access by passengers in international transit is also permitted, as long as they do not leave the international area of the airport and the destination country permits their admission.
The recovery that had been expected in the oil and gas sector in the coming years is now uncertain because of the covid-19 pandemic.
Given the scale of the pandemic crisis, it is impossible to anticipate when Brazil will get back on track.
i Advance residence authorisations and residence permits
Except in the case of a visitor's visa, for all work-related visas it is necessary to obtain an advance residence authorisation from CGIL in Brazil; residence permit applications are also assessed directly by CGIL, now under the purview of the Ministry of Justice and Public Security.
The timescale for approval and publication in the Official Gazette of an advance residence authorisation for the issuance of a temporary visa or granting of a residence permit in Brazil is 30 calendar days. In the event of a refusal, it is possible to file an appeal.
After approval and publication of the advance residence authorisation for the temporary visa, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sends, within approximately five business days, an authorisation for the consulate to process the visa application. The timescale for the granting of the visa varies, depending on the workload of the consulate, from three business days to two months. Upon arrival in Brazil, the visa holder has 90 days to register with the Federal Police.
The timescale for the processing of the technical assistance emergency visa is an exception, and CGIL completes the assessment for this application within two business days, and consulates are advised immediately of the approval of the advance residence authorisation.
In the case of those applying for a residence permit authorisation (i.e., those doing so while already in Brazil), upon approval and publication of the residence permit authorisation, the foreign national has 30 days from the date of publication to register with the Federal Police.
CNIg NRs stipulate the requirements for the granting of advance residence authorisations for the issuance of temporary visas and for residence permits. The most common work visas and residence permits are as follows.
Officers' work visas and residence permits
Officers' work visas and residence permits9 are appropriate for foreign administrators, managers, officers, directors and executives with managerial powers who come to Brazil as representatives of companies, commercial groups or economic conglomerates.
The company that intends to appoint a foreign national to a managerial position must prove an investment equal to or higher than the equivalent, in foreign currency, of 600,000 reais for each appointed foreign manager, or an investment equal to or higher than the equivalent, in foreign currency, of 150,000 reais, for each appointed foreign manager, and generate a minimum of 10 new jobs during the first two years after the establishment of the firm or the arrival of the foreign national.
Although the residence permit is for an indefinite term, the migrant's CRNM will be valid for up to nine years. Migrants will only be able to renew the identity card if they continue to exercise the function in the designated company for which the visa or residence permit was approved.
Work visas and residence permits based on employment contracts
Under NR No. 2/17, Brazilian companies may require an advance residence authorisation for the issuance of a temporary visa or a residence permit under an employment contract if two-thirds of the employees of the Brazilian company are Brazilian citizens and two-thirds of the total of the company's payroll is paid to Brazilian employees.
For purposes of this two-thirds rule,10 foreign nationals who have been living in Brazil for 10 years or more and are married to Brazilian citizens or have Brazilian children, Portuguese citizens, irrespective of any other individual situation, and nationals of the Mercosur countries who live in Brazil with residence granted under the Agreement are treated as Brazilians. However, because the Constitution provides that there can be no discrimination between Brazilians and foreigners resident in Brazil, the applicability of the Law of 2/3 has been questioned.
Foreign nationals applying for residence must prove that they have education, qualifications and professional experience compatible with the role to be exercised in Brazil. Education and qualifications are proven by means of diplomas or certificates, and for people who do not have a college or technical diploma, a minimum of 12 years' study and four years of experience must be proven. In the case of candidates whose artistic or cultural activities do not depend on formal education, a minimum experience of three years in the exercise of their profession must be proven. The documents must be apostilled at the jurisdiction in which the documents were issued and translated in Brazil by a sworn public translator.
Professional experience is proven by means of a statement from the company for which the candidate worked, showing a minimum experience of four years for medium-level candidates for functions that do not require a technical or graduate level, three years for technical-level education, two years for candidates who hold a bachelor's degree and one year for candidates who have attended postgraduate courses with a minimum of 360 class hours. Holders of a master's or PhD degree do not need to submit letters of experience.
If the Brazilian sponsoring company belongs to the same economic group of the current employer of the candidate, then a letter of experience may be prepared in Brazil and signed by an officer of the Brazilian company. In this case, the letter should be prepared in Portuguese, and there will be no need for further notarisation or legalisation.
If the individual has not been working for the same economic group for the required minimum period, a letter from previous employers will also be required, as well as a minimum of five years' experience.
The foreign national will be an employee of the Brazilian company and have the option of earning his or her total remuneration in Brazil or part in Brazil and part abroad (split payroll). The employment contract will be governed by Brazilian labour law and the foreign national will have all the benefits provided by the Brazilian labour legislation, such as a Christmas bonus, 30-day annual holiday, one-third holiday bonus, guaranteed severance fund and social security. During the first two years, the employment contract must be for a definite period. Should the Brazilian company want to extend the contract beyond a two-year period, the new employment contract must be for an indefinite term.
The visa will be valid for up to two years (either for one year and then renewed, or two years from the beginning), and at the end of the second year it can be changed into a residence permit for an indefinite term.
In considering the visa extension or change of status request, the following aspects will be taken into consideration: the need for continuous services to be rendered by the foreign national, respecting the interests of Brazilian workers; compliance with any conditions that may have been established at the moment the initial work permit was granted; and the development of the workforce – both Brazilian and foreign employees – from the moment when the original work permit was granted to the moment when the extension is being requested. In the case of a change of status, a justification presented by the foreign national about his or her intention to permanently settle in Brazil is also required.
Work visas and residence permits based on technical assistance agreements with no employment contract
Under NR No. 3/17, an advance residence authorisation for the issuance of a temporary visa or a residence permit may be granted for up to one year, renewable for another year, for technicians coming to work in Brazil under a technical assistance contract for foreign equipment, or a cooperation or convention agreement between a Brazilian company and a foreign company. Foreign nationals will remain as employees of the foreign company and cannot receive salaries from Brazilian companies. This visa or residence permit cannot be granted to foreign nationals who will hold functions in Brazil that are merely of an administrative, financial or managerial nature.
In cases of emergency, for the granting of a short-term temporary visa valid for up to 180 days, it is also mandatory to apply to CGIL in Brazil to obtain an advance residence authorisation before the visa can be granted by the consulate abroad.
A copy of the document issued by the Brazilian federal revenue service agency in the case of the sale and purchase of foreign equipment, or of a contract between Brazilian and foreign companies for the rendering of services, must also be submitted.
Work visas and residence permits under a transfer of technology agreement with no employment contract
Under NR No. 4/17, an advance residence authorisation for the issuance of a temporary visa or a residence permit may be granted for up to one year, renewable for another year, for foreign individuals coming to work in Brazil under a technology transfer contract or a technology transfer cooperation or convention agreement between a Brazilian company and a foreign company. Foreign nationals will remain as employees of the foreign company and cannot receive salaries from Brazilian companies. This visa cannot be granted to foreign nationals who will hold functions in Brazil that are merely of an administrative, financial or managerial nature. As part of the work application documentation, an outline of the technology transfer training programme must also be submitted, including:
- the professional qualifications of the foreign national;
- the scope of the training programme;
- the number of Brazilians who will be trained;
- the form of execution of the training programme;
- the place where the training will be given;
- the expected duration of the training programme; and
- the results expected from the training programme.
If the place of signature of the contract is not in Brazil, and the agreement is executed abroad, an apostilled or legalised copy, as the case may be, of the contract between Brazilian companies and foreign companies for the rendering of services must also be submitted, as well as a sworn translation to Portuguese prepared in Brazil if the document was issued only in a foreign language. In the case of a cooperation agreement between companies belonging to the same economic group, a statement signed by an officer of the Brazilian company identifying the companies and explaining the existing link between the companies is also required.
ii Labour market regulation
The labour market is protected on the basis of legislation that stipulates that two out of any given three employees must be Brazilian, with this rule being applicable to both payroll and headcount.
In the case of seamen authorised to work in Brazil under NR-5, NR-6 or NR-22, there are also specific requirements concerning the hiring of Brazilians for different functions aboard, the required rate varying depending on the specific NR.
iii Rights and duties of sponsored employees
In Brazil, the obligations placed on employees with sponsored status vary depending on the type of visa or residence permit applied for.
The normal rule is that a foreign national can only work for the employer sponsoring the visa, and only in the position or function for which the visa or residence permit was granted. However, it is possible for them to apply for a change of status if they want to work for a different employer or, for example, apply for a residence permit based on family reunion.
Student permits may be changed to a residence permit with a local employment contract in Brazil.
Investors, skilled migrants and entrepreneurs
Since 2017, investor and entrepreneur visas are regarded as one type of visa or residence permit, which falls within the scope of NR No. 13/17. The prior residence authorisation for the issuance of the temporary visa and residence permit can be granted to foreign nationals who want to come to Brazil to invest their own foreign capital in Brazil in productive activities or start-up companies.
Foreign nationals will need to prove the investment of a minimum amount of the equivalent, in foreign currency, of 500,000 reais.
In special situations, if the investment is lower than the equivalent of 500,000 reais but not less than 150,000 reais, CGIL may render a decision granting the advance residence authorisation or residence permit to foreign nationals who can prove the social relevance of the projects concerned.
In the case of start-ups, the required capital is only the equivalent of 150,000 reais to 500,000 reais.
The residence authorisation or permit will be for an indefinite term. Note that the identity card issued to the immigrant by the Federal Police will be valid for nine years and will then have to be renewed. However, to maintain that authorisation, the individual is required to present evidence that he or she remains a foreign investor, that the business plan was complied with, and that the project generated the job positions for Brazilians that were indicated in the original process.
Furthermore, the Migration Law provides that skilled migrants can apply directly for a temporary visa or a residence permit even if without a Brazilian sponsor. However, this provision has still to be regulated to be implemented by the Brazilian immigration authorities.
Outlook and conclusions
Covid-19 has affected the global migration community in many negative ways, but it also brought some positive aspects due to the possibility of remote work to an extent that has never been seen before. Brazil, due to its relatively open borders, can become a hub in Latin America for multinational companies that have a presence in Brazil for the global mobility workforce to work and live in the country.
For Brazil this could be an advantage for business development and especially for the Brazilian economy.
The fact that the Brazilian real is now quite devalued is an excellent opportunity for real estate investments under the Brazilian equivalent of a 'golden visa'. In Brazil, the residency programme for investment in real estate presents an interesting and feasible prospect for investors. In this regard, Brazil remains committed to the golden visa model, which it embraced in 2018, and it is hoped that foreign nationals will take up the opportunities presented by these changes to invest in property and live in the country.
Once life returns to normal, it is expected that Brazil will continue to work on developing new sectors and industries and on making it easier for foreign nationals to travel to and work in the country. There is already a variety of industries and sectors such as renewable energy, oil and gas, information technology, healthcare, manufacturing, biotechnology and
pharmaceuticals that can benefit from the transfer of technology and know-how of companies that have developed their business around the world.
As to being able to live in Brazil for a more indefinite term without the requirement to work for a specific company or employer, there is likely to be an increase in the number of filings for Brazilian citizenship by those nationalities that allow dual citizenship.
1 Maria Luisa Soter is a partner and Gabriela Lessa is a senior counsel at Veirano Advogados.
3 Law No. 13,445.
5 Convention of 5 October 1961, Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents.
7 Article 354 of the Brazilian Labour Code.
9 Normative Resolution No. 11/17 of 1 December.
10 Article 354 of the Brazilian Labour Code.