General framework

Legislation

What primary and secondary legislation governs immigration in your jurisdiction?

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International agreements

Has your jurisdiction concluded any international agreements affecting immigration (eg, free trade agreements or free movement accords)?

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Regulatory authorities

Which government authorities regulate immigration and what is the extent of their enforcement powers? Can the decisions of these authorities be appealed?

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Government policy

In broad terms what is your government’s policy towards business immigration?

Brazil was formed by immigrants and continues to welcome foreign nationals. In view of Brazil’s continuous economic growth, an increasing number of foreign citizens are willing to come to Brazil in order to study or work. As a consequence of this phenomenon, in the first quarter of 2017, the Brazilian Ministry of Labour and Employment granted over 6,415 work authorisations to foreigners from all over the world, especially North Americans, Europeans and Asians.

Nonetheless, the granting of Brazilian working visas is on condition of the fulfilment of several requirements established by the Brazilian Immigration Law, and the visa application process is only approved after careful analysis of the relevant documentation by the Ministry of Labour and Employment.

Short-term transfers

Visas

In what circumstances is a visa necessary for short-term travellers? How are short-term visas obtained?

There are three situations in which short-term travellers would be required to obtain a Brazilian visa: coming to Brazil as tourists; coming to Brazil for business purposes; and coming to Brazil as technicians required to work on a specific short-term project.

Tourists are foreign citizens who come to Brazil for leisure activities or to visit Brazil with a non-immigration objective. Therefore, tourists are not allowed to perform any working or remunerated activity while in Brazil.

A foreign citizen is allowed to stay in Brazil as a tourist for a maximum of 90 days, which may be extended for an additional term of 90 days, depending on his or her nationality, totalling a maximum of 180 days within a period of 12 months.

Citizens of certain countries are exempted from requiring a tourist visa prior to travelling to Brazil, in view of special agreements entered into by and between the Brazilian government and the government of the foreign national’s country of origin. In this case, the foreign national is only required to mention his or her tourist status upon arrival on Brazilian territory.

On the other hand, where the foreign national is required to obtain a tourist visa before travelling to Brazil, he or she must apply for it at the nearest Brazilian consulate abroad.

With regard to foreign nationals travelling for business purposes, a Brazilian business visa is required. This type of visa is applicable to foreign nationals that intend to participate in meetings, seminars, conferences, reunions, meet clients to discuss future projects and negotiate and execute contracts. It is also applicable to foreign nationals who travel to Brazil for house hunting.

Citizens of certain countries are also exempted from requiring a business visa prior to travelling to Brazil, in view of special agreements entered into by and between the Brazilian government and the government of the foreign national’s country of origin. In this case, the foreign national is only required to mention his or her business status upon arrival in the country. On the other hand, where the foreign national is required to obtain a business visa before travelling to Brazil, he or she must apply for it at the nearest Brazilian consulate abroad.

Finally, the last visa alternative is the 90-day temporary technical visa. This visa is appropriate for foreign nationals who come to Brazil to render technical services, transfer technology or render technical assistance for a period of no longer than 90 days. The foreign national keeps his or her bond with the foreign employer and is not allowed to receive any remuneration in Brazil.

This visa must be applied directly at the corresponding Brazilian consulate abroad, through the presentation of a set of documents, including an invitation letter issued by the Brazilian company. This visa is not extendable.

Restrictions

What are the main restrictions on a business visitor?

The business visa is suitable only for foreigners who wish to come to Brazil in order to take part in workshops, meet clients and other non-productive activities. The holder of a business visa is not allowed to have a working routine in Brazil, or have a personal desk, computer or phone line, perform managerial tasks, give or receive training, provide technical assistance or perform any other work-related activities.

The holder of a business visa is only permitted to stay in Brazil for a maximum period of 90 days, renewable for an additional 90 days in a 365-day period, depending on the foreigner’s nationality.

The holder of a business visa is not allowed to receive any kind of remuneration in Brazil.

Short-term training

Is work authorisation or immigration permission needed to give or receive short-term training?

Yes. A work permit is required in order for a foreign national to give short-term training in Brazil.

The 90-day temporary technical visa is appropriate for foreign nationals who come to Brazil to render technical services, transfer technology or render technical assistance for a period of no longer than 90 days. The foreigner keeps his or her bond with the foreign company and is not allowed to receive any remuneration in Brazil. This visa must be granted directly at the corresponding Brazilian consulate abroad, and is not extendable.

On the other hand, in order to receive training in Brazil, a foreigner must apply for a long-term visa (the professional training visa), which is valid for one year.

Transit

Are transit visas required to travel through your country? How are these obtained? Are they only required for certain nationals?

Foreign nationals whose final destination is any country other than Brazil, but who need to pass through Brazil to get a connection without leaving the transit area (eg, port, airport, etc), are not required to obtain a transit visa.

Transit visas are only granted to foreign nationals who need to stay in Brazil for a short period while in transit to another country. Such a visa is granted for a maximum period of 10 days and the foreign national must apply for it directly at a Brazilian consular authority (consulate or embassy) abroad.

Visa waivers and fast-track entry

Are any visa waiver or fast-track entry programmes available?

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Long-term transfers

Categories

What are the main work and business permit categories used by companies to transfer skilled staff?

The main immigration permission categories are:

  • business visa;
  • temporary working visa under a local labour relationship;
  • 90-day temporary technical visa;
  • one-year temporary technical visa;
  • permanent working visa for individual foreign investors;
  • permanent working visa for executive officers or directors; and
  • professional exchange visa.
Procedures

What are the procedures for obtaining these permissions? At what stage can work begin?

After gathering all necessary documents to apply for the most suitable working visa, the corresponding visa application is submitted to the Immigration Department of the Brazilian Ministry of Labour and Employment, which takes about 30 to 45 days to grant or deny the request, or even require additional information or documentation, under its sole discretion. The foreigner is only allowed to start working after entering Brazil with the corresponding working visa.

Period of stay

What are the general maximum (and minimum) periods of stay granted under the main categories for company transfers?

There are no minimum periods of stay under any Brazilian visa category. The maximum periods of validity of the main Brazilian visa categories are:

  • temporary working visa under a local labour relationship: two years, after which conversion to a permanent working visa may be required;
  • 90-day temporary technical visa: 90 days, not renewable;
  • one-year temporary technical visa: one year, renewable for another period of one year;
  • permanent working visa for individual foreign investors: the duration of this work permit’s validity is three years and the foreigners’ identity card (RNE) can be renewed at the end of such a period;
  • permanent working visa for executive officers or directors: granted for five years and the RNE can be renewed at the end of such a period; and
  • professional exchange visa: one year, not renewable.
Processing time

How long does it typically take to process the main categories?

Applications for the main Brazilian visa categories take from 30 to 45 days to be analysed by the Brazilian Ministry of Labour and Employment.

Requests for visa extensions and conversion of temporary visas into permanent visas usually take from 12 to 18 months to be analysed by the Brazilian Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Labour and Employment.

As the 90-day temporary technical visa is applied for at the corresponding Brazilian consulate abroad, the time frame for the issuance of the visa will depend on each consulate.

Staff benefits

Is it necessary to obtain any benefits or facilities for staff to secure a work permit?

No. Such benefits may be defined by the Brazilian company according to its internal policies and market practices. However, when applying for a work permit, the Brazilian company must provide information about the remuneration and the benefits that the foreign employee will receive in Brazil.

Assessment criteria

Do the immigration authorities follow objective criteria, or do they exercise discretion according to subjective criteria?

The Brazilian immigration authorities follow objective criteria established by the Brazilian Immigration Law. Nevertheless, such authorities are allowed a certain degree of discretion in concrete cases.

With regard to complicated cases, it is possible to submit, along with the officially required documents, other documents or a petition explaining any exceptional situation to the Brazilian immigration authorities.

High net worth individuals and investors

Is there a special route for high net worth individuals or investors?

The Brazilian Immigration Law sets forth a specific type of visa for foreign nationals who intend to invest in Brazil: the permanent working visa for individual foreign investors.

This visa is applicable for a foreign national who wishes to invest his or her own funds in a productive activity in Brazil. For the application of this type of permanent working visa, the foreign national shall directly invest into a Brazilian company the minimum amount of 500,000 reais, or the equivalent in any foreign currency.

Exceptionally, the National Immigration Council may authorise, under certain specific and discretionary conditions, the granting of a permanent working visa for a foreign national whose amount of investment is lower than the above-mentioned 500,000 reais, but higher than 150,000 reais, or the equivalent in any foreign currency. According to the Brazilian Immigration Law, ‘the investment must result in an increase in the employment and income in Brazil, as well as in the productivity, through the assimilation of technology and fundraising for specific sectors’.

Is there a special route (including fast track) for high net worth individuals for a residence permission route into your jurisdiction?

No, there is no special route for high net worth individuals for residence visas. As discussed in question 16, the permanent working visa for individual foreign investors is the only type of visa applicable for a foreigner willing to invest his or her own funds in a Brazilian company. Nevertheless, the type of visa referred to is considered a work visa and follows the standard processing path.

Highly skilled individuals

Is there a special route for highly skilled individuals?

On a general basis, there is no special route for highly skilled individuals. The granting of any Brazilian working visa shall always be preceded by the corresponding visa application process, according to the requirements set forth by the Brazilian Immigration Law.

All foreign nationals are supposed to apply for the most suitable visa, according to the criteria established by Brazilian immigration legislation.

However, as per recent alterations to the immigration legislation, the National Immigration Council is allowed to define simplified conditions for the granting of temporary visas in the case of foreigners who have strategic capabilities for Brazil.

Ancestry and descent

Is there a special route for foreign nationals based on ancestry or descent?

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Minimum salary

Is there a minimum salary requirement for the main categories for company transfers?

There is a minimum salary requirement for some specific categories. As per Brazilian immigration laws, foreign nationals who hold a temporary or permanent working visa and take part in an intra-company transfer must receive an equal or higher remuneration in Brazil than they received abroad. On the other hand, if the foreign national is hired from the market (not an intra-company transfer), his or her salary must be equal to or higher than the salary paid to a Brazilian employee holding the same position in the Brazilian company.

Additionally, it is important to mention that it is possible for the Brazilian company to choose to split the remuneration to be paid to the foreigner with the company abroad. Nevertheless, for the application for the corresponding temporary or permanent working visas, it is recommendable that the foreigner receives at least 50 per cent of his or her remuneration in Brazil. Also, it is important to emphasise that the total amount to be paid to the foreign national (including the part of the remuneration paid abroad) must be declared to the Brazilian tax authorities.

Resident labour market test

Is there a quota system or resident labour market test?

If a Brazilian company wishes to apply for a Brazilian working visa for a certain foreign national, it must justify the hiring of such foreign national by proving that the individual possesses certain skills and knowledge that could not be found in any other potential Brazilian candidate.

Nevertheless, for the purpose of applying for the temporary working visa for a foreign national before the Brazilian immigration authorities, the Brazilian company must provide evidence that at least two-thirds of its workforce is composed of Brazilian employees and that the same proportion is observed in terms of payroll for Brazilian employees.

Shortage occupations

Is there a special route for shortage occupations?

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Other eligibility requirements

Are there any other main eligibility requirements to qualify for work permission in your jurisdiction?

There are different eligibility requirements to qualify for work permits in Brazil, depending on the type of visa to be applied for.

With regard to the temporary working visa under an employment relationship, the requirements are the following:

  • a minimum of nine years of formal education and two years of professional experience for occupations that do not require a graduate degree;
  • a minimum of one year of professional experience and evidence that a bachelor’s degree has been completed; or
    • evidence of the conclusion of postgraduate studies with a minimum of 360 hours or a master’s or PhD degree.

With regard to the one-year temporary technical visa, the foreigner must provide evidence of a minimum of three years of professional experience in the same field of practice that will be developed by him or her in Brazil.

Third-party contractors

What is the process for third-party contractors to obtain work permission?

Only the Brazilian company where the foreign national will effectively work can apply for the corresponding working visa in the capacity of sponsor. No third party is entitled to apply for a work permit on behalf of other companies.

Recognition of foreign qualifications

Is an equivalency assessment or recognition of skills and qualifications required to obtain immigration permission?

Yes, the application for some of the Brazilian working visas requires proof of specific qualifications of the foreign applicant (ie, some years of work experience in the field in which he or she intends to work in Brazil and a minimum degree level), among other requirements, which are analysed on a case-by-case basis, depending on the type of visa that will be applied for.

Extensions and variations

Short-term to long-term status

Can a short-term visa be converted in-country into longer-term authorisations? If so, what is the process?

As per recent alterations to immigration legislation, the foreign holder of any temporary visa, except for a tourist visa, is now able to request the conversion of his or her immigration status to temporary work status. In addition, a tourist visa holder will be able to request the conversion of his or her visa to a student one. Be aware that the procedures to be followed for this conversion have still to be defined through the issuance of a ruling by the national immigration authorities.

Long-term extension

Can long-term immigration permission be extended?

Yes. Some Brazilian long-term work authorisations may be extended or converted, as follows:

  • the temporary working visa under a local labour relationship, after the expiry of the two-year term, may be converted into a permanent working visa, provided that certain conditions are met;
  • the one-year temporary technical visa can be renewed once, for one additional year;
  • the permanent working visa for individual foreign investors is extended by means of the renewal of the RNE card at the end of the three-year period; and
  • the permanent working visa for executive officers and directors is extended by means of the renewal of the RNE card at the end of the five-year period.
Exit and re-entry

What are the rules on and implications of exit and re-entry for work permits?

The holder of a temporary or a permanent working visa is allowed to exit and re-enter Brazil without limit during the period of validity of the visa. The holder of a temporary visa is not allowed to stay for more than 180 consecutive days outside Brazil, under the risk of the cancellation of his or her visa. Likewise, the holder of a permanent visa is not allowed to stay outside Brazil for more than two consecutive years.

Permanent residency and citizenship

How can immigrants qualify for permanent residency or citizenship?

An immigrant qualifies for permanent residency if he or she marries a Brazilian citizen or if he or she has a child in Brazil. In both cases, the immigrant can request permanent residency from the federal police.

To obtain Brazilian citizenship, a foreign national must have lived in Brazil for at least four years under a permanent status. In addition, a foreign national is no longer required to renounce his or her previous nationality in order to obtain Brazilian naturalisation.

End of employment

Must immigration permission be cancelled at the end of employment in your jurisdiction?

Brazilian visas expire automatically once they reach their final validity date; therefore, it is not necessary to apply for their cancellation should the holder of the visa remain in Brazilian territory until the expiry date.

Nevertheless, should the holder of the visa decide to leave the Brazilian territory before the expiry date, the Brazilian company must communicate with the immigration authorities and apply for the cancellation of the visa.

Applying for a new work visa implies the automatic cancellation of the first work visa.

Employee restrictions

Are there any specific restrictions on a holder of employment permission?

The holder of a temporary or permanent working visa is allowed to study, to be promoted and to receive a higher remuneration. Notwithstanding this, the holder is not allowed to work for another Brazilian company in addition to, or instead of, the original sponsor unless authorised by the Immigration Department of the Brazilian Ministry of Labour and Employment. A reduction of salary or of any other benefits is expressly forbidden by Brazilian law.

Dependants

Eligibility

Who qualifies as a dependant?

For Brazilian immigration purposes, the following persons are considered dependants:

  • single children of 18 years old or younger, or older than 18 if there is evidence that such a person is not able to financially support him or herself;
  • parents and grandparents, provided that the need for support is proved;
  • a sibling, grandchild or great-grandchild if an orphan, single and younger than 18 years old or of any age, whenever the necessity of support by the applicant is proved;
  • the spouse of a Brazilian citizen;
  • the spouse of a foreign citizen temporarily or permanently residing in Brazil; and
  • a partner in a common-law marriage.

The Brazilian Federal Constitution of 1988 accepts the common-law marriage between man and woman as being a family entity, and the Brazilian infra-constitutional law even attributes the same matrimonial citizenship to couples who are not formally married (article 1723 of the Brazilian Civil Code (Law No. 10406/2002)). From an immigration perspective, the possibility of obtaining a temporary or permanent visa for a partner, without distinction of sex, upon evidencing of common-law marriage and legal dependency was an innovation.

The residence visa based on family reunion used to be processed by the Brazilian Ministry of Labour. However, this type of visa must now be applied for directly at the appropriate Brazilian consulate or embassy abroad.

Conditions and restrictions

Are dependants automatically allowed to work or attend school?

As per recent alterations to Brazilian immigration legislation, family members and dependants over the age of 16 of the foreign national to whom a temporary working visa has been granted, regardless of any previous job offer, will be granted a visa in his or her own name; a family member or dependant will be allowed to start working as from his or her entry into the country. Dependants of permanent working visa holders were already allowed to work in Brazil. There are no restrictions on a dependant attending school or college, independently of the kind of visa that was applied for by his or her sponsor.

Access to social benefits

What social benefits are dependants entitled to?

All foreign residents enjoy the same rights as Brazilian citizens, under the terms of the Constitution and laws.

Other requirements, restrictions and penalties

Criminal convictions

Are prior criminal convictions a barrier to obtaining immigration permission?

Brazilian consulates require the presentation of certificates of criminal records in order to issue visas that were approved by the Brazilian Ministry of Labour and Employment. In this sense, criminal convictions may jeopardise the obtaining of immigration permissions, depending on the evaluation of the consulate.

Penalties for non-compliance

What are the penalties for companies and individuals for non-compliance with immigration law? How are these applied in practice?

The penalties applied for companies and foreign nationals for non-compliance with the Brazilian Immigration Law are the following:

  • the foreign national may be fined, deported and certainly will have difficulty re-entering Brazil in the future; and
  • the company may be fined and will certainly have problems with the Ministry of Labour and Employment when applying for work visas in the future.
Language requirements

Are there any minimum language requirements for migrants?

There are no minimum language requirements for migrants. It is not mandatory for foreign nationals to speak Portuguese in order to apply for a Brazilian visa.

Medical screening

Is medical screening required to obtain immigration permission?

No medical tests are required for obtaining immigration permission.

Secondment

Is there a specific procedure for employees on secondment to a client site in your jurisdiction?

As regards a temporary working visa under an employment relationship, it is possible for a foreigner to provide services to the Brazilian company’s clients on the client’s site. However, the visa must be applied for by the Brazilian company that hires such foreigner, and not by the client, and the foreigner will maintain the professional bond with, and will receive the remuneration through, the sponsoring company’s payroll.

Be aware, however, that foreign holders of technical working visas are not able to render services to any company other than the one that sponsored the visa.

Update and trends

Key developments of the past year

Are there any emerging trends or hot topics in corporate immigration regulation in your jurisdiction?

Key developments of the past year40 Are there any emerging trends or hot topics in corporate immigration regulation in your jurisdiction?

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The information in this chapter was accurate as at September 2017.