All questions

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:

  1. people born in Brazil or naturalised Brazilians;
  2. immigrants with permanent residence in Brazil, for a fixed or indefinite term;
  3. duly identified foreign professionals in a mission serving an international organisation;
  4. foreign employees accredited to the government;
  5. spouses, partners, children, , parents or curators of a Brazilian citizen;
  6. foreigners whose entry is specifically authorised by the government due to public interests or for humanitarian reasons; and
  7. bearers of the National Migration Registry (the Brazilian ID card for foreigners).

Such measures also do not prevent:

  1. the execution of cross-border humanitarian actions previously authorised by the local health authorities;
  2. 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
  3. 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:

  1. 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;
  2. No. 2/17 of 1 December: temporary visas and residence permits for work purposes with employment contracts in Brazil;
  3. 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;
  4. No. 4/17 of 1 December: temporary visas and residence permits for work purposes without an employment relationship in Brazil for transfer of technology;
  5. 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;
  6. 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;
  7. 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;
  8. 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;
  9. 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;
  10. 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;
  11. 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;
  12. 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;
  13. No. 13/17 of 12 December: temporary visas and residence permits for individual foreign investors;
  14. 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;
  15. 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;
  16. 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;
  17. 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;
  18. 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;
  19. 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;
  20. 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;
  21. 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;
  22. 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;
  23. 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;
  24. No. 24/18 of 20 February: temporary visas and residence permits for research, teaching or academic extension with an employment contract in Brazil;
  25. No. 25/18 of 20 February: temporary visas and residence permits for minors between the ages of 14 and 18 for performing sports activities;
  26. 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;
  27. 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;
  28. 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;
  29. No. 36/18 of 9 October, in effect as of 21 November: temporary visas and residence permits based on real estate investments in Brazil;
  30. No. 39/19 of 28 August, in effect as of 3 October: revoking NRs issued under the former Foreigners Statute; and
  31. 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:

  1. 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;
  2. 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;
  3. No. 6, of 12 March 2018: provides for the procedure for loss and cancellation of a residence permit;
  4. No. 7, of 13 March 2018: provides for the granting of a temporary visa and residence permit for study purposes;
  5. No. 8, of 13 March 2018: provides for the granting of a temporary visa and residence permit for a health treatment;
  6. No. 12, of 13 June 2018: provides for the granting of temporary visas and residence permits for family reunion;
  7. 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;
  8. 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;
  9. 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;
  10. 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;
  11. No. 8, of 8 October 2019: provides for the procedures to be adopted in relation to the processing of requests for special naturalisation;
  12. 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;
  13. 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;
  14. 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;
  15. 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;
  16. 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
  17. 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
  1. No. 217, of 27 February 2018: establishes the administrative proceedings relating to requests for extradition and precautionary arrest within the Ministry of Justice;
  2. 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;
  3. 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;
  4. 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;
  5. 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;
  6. 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;
  7. 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;
  8. 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;
  9. 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);
  10. 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;
  11. No. 222, of 19 May 2020: provides for delegation of competence to the Director of the Migration Department of the National Secretariat of Justice;
  12. No. 2, of 7 July 2020: provides for the resumption of procedural deadlines within the scope of the General Coordination of Labor Immigration;
  13. 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;
  14. 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;
  15. 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;
  16. 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

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:

  1. formulating immigration policies and coordinating and directing immigration actions;
  2. regularly assessing the need for qualified foreign workers in relation to granting entry;
  3. undertaking research on immigration-related problems;
  4. issuing rules for immigrant selection aimed at providing specialist workers for the various sectors of the economy;
  5. collecting resources for specific sectors;
  6. clarifying and resolving undefined areas in immigration-related cases;
  7. providing opinions on changes to immigration law proposed by any sector of the executive branch; and
  8. 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

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.

Federal Police

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

Conare is the collective body that brings together representative segments of the public sector, civil society and the United Nations, with the aim of:

  1. examining applications for recognition of refugee status;
  2. deciding on terminations of refugee status, ex officio or at the request of the competent authorities;
  3. issuing declarations of loss of refugee status;
  4. 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
  5. approving normative instructions that enable the implementation of refugee-related legislation.
DEMIG

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.

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.

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.