Migration Law

Brazil’s migration laws are not very detailed and the bodies responsible for issuing the visas for some time have been interpreting these laws reasonably. Long-term and temporary stay options are available for business investors, executives, real estate investors and various other roles. Where an applicant does not fit any criteria established by the applicable regulations, there is the possibility of seeking a “catch-all” visa.

On 25 May 2017 a new Migration Law was published and it came into force on 21 November 2017. The new Law no longer includes the concept of “permanent visa”. Instead, visas are divided into five different categories: visitors, temporary, diplomatic, official, courtesy and “residency authorisations”.

Given that the regulations made under the new Migration Law are fairly recent, there is still some doubt as to how it will be applied by the authorities. This is especially the case after President Bolsonaro extinguished the Ministry of Labour and Employment in early 2019 and moved migration-related matters to the Ministry of Justice.

Long-Term Stay

(a) Authorisation of Residency for Business Investors

Individuals who wish to migrate to Brazil may do so by investing the equivalent in foreign currency to R$500,000 (or as little as R$150,000 if the investment relates to “innovation” or will be put towards “scientific and technological” research and development).

The investment may be made in a start-up entity or an existing business. When assessing the application, the migration authorities will prioritise the “potential for employment or income generation” in Brazil.

The business plan must cover three years and address the following matters:

  • economic sector and location, service to be provided, when the investment will be made and when the business’ activities will commence;
  • the importance of the investment for the location and economic sector of the business;
  • the technology and services involved;
  • whether there are governmental programs available (and, if so, the locations they are available);
  • whether there are any other business partners involved;
  • the market to be targeted and strategies for developing the business;
  • the number of employees to be hired and their respective positions;
  • the salaries to be paid and investments to be made in the training of employees; and
  • how the investment will be disbursed (a financial plan must be provided).

The investment must be made by the individual’s own funds and must be transferred to Brazil from abroad.

The authorisation of residency will be granted indefinitely, but it is conditioned to the implementation of the investment plan used in the residence authorisation application. Corporate documents must be provided to the migration authorities to show that the company invested in is still active.

(b) Authorisation of Residency for Executives

Authorisations of residency may be issued to executive officers, managers, directors and senior executives when they move to Brazil to work for a company, a group of companies or an “economic group” which invested with the “potential for employment or income generation” in Brazil. Once granted, the executive may reside in Brazil indefinitely.

For this authorisation the company must show that:

  • it has invested the amount of R$150,000 per executive in Brazil (in hard currency, technology transfer or assets, all being registered with the Central Bank), and that it will create 10 new jobs within two years of the company being set up or the executive joining the company; or
  • it has invested an amount of R$600,000 per executive in Brazil (in hard currency, as shown by the Brazilian bank’s currency exchange contract and company’s articles of association).

The company must inform the migration authorities promptly if the executive is dismissed (new authorisations of residency will only be granted if the company has complied with this requirement). If the executive is to change his or her employment to a company outside of the group, authorisation must be obtained from the migration authorities.

Note that different rules apply for executives of financial institutions, air transport services, insurance, capitalisation and certain private pension entities.

(c) Authorisation of Residency for Real Estate Investors

Investors in Brazilian real estate may be able to obtain a temporary visa or an authorisation of residency. To this end:

  • the applicant must acquire at least one property in an urban area;
  • the property acquired must contain a building (“immovable property”) that has already been built or is in the process of being built;
  • the funds for purchasing the property must be sent to Brazil from abroad and belong to the applicant;
  • the applicant must supply a declaration from a bank or financial institution registered in Brazil certifying that the funds were transferred to acquire the property; and
  • the property (or group of properties) must be worth at least R$1 million (R$700,000 if the property is located in Northeastern or Northern regions of the country), alone or in aggregate.

Any amounts invested above the applicable minimums may be financed. The property may be owned jointly with others, but each applicant must show that the funds invested surpass the minimum amounts.

Where construction has not yet been finalised, the applicant must also provide copies of:

  • the purchase agreement for the property, duly registered;
  • construction approval (alvará de construção) as required under Brazilian law; and
  • the incorporation memorial (memorial de incorporação), duly registered.

Investors may obtain temporary and ultimately permanent resident visas once the investments have been made.

(d) Authorisation of Residency for Foreign Personnel Employed by Brazilian Companies

Brazilian companies may hire foreign personnel using a local employment contract when there is compatibility between the professional qualifications of the individual and the activities to be carried out in Brazil. For the foreign individual to obtain the prior authorisation of residency, he or she must provide evidence of his or her professional experience by one of the following means:

  • minimum of 12 years of education and four years of experience in a position that does not require a higher education degree or technical education;
  • three years’ practical experience in the field of work to be undertaken in Brazil after completing a technical education;
  • two years’ practical experience in the field of work to be undertaken in Brazil after completing a bachelor’s degree;
  • postgraduate degree with at least 360 hours and one year’s practical experience in the field of work to be undertaken in Brazil after completing a postgraduate’s degree;
  • a master’s or doctorate in the field of work to be undertaken in Brazil; or
  • three years’ experience in “artistic or cultural activities” that do not require formal schooling.

The authorisation of residency will be granted for a period up to two years and may be renewed.

(e) Technical and Administrative Employees of Brazilian Multinationals

Authorisation of residency is available for employees of Brazilian multinationals (multinational companies whose head office is in Brazil):

  • who reside abroad;
  • who already work for a company controlled by the Brazilian multinational;
  • whose role is of a “technical-operational or managerial nature”; and
  • who are coming to Brazil for training and “assimilating the company culture and managerial methodology of the Brazilian head office as well as to allow for the exchange and sharing of experiences inherently relating to the roles of the employees”.

The authorisation of residency will be granted for a period up to two years but cannot be renewed.

Temporary Stay

(a) Professional Exchange Temporary Visas

Temporary working visas are available for those looking to be part of a professional exchange program with a Brazilian legal entity. This visa does not require that the applicant be employed by the Brazilian entity or any entity that may be part of the Brazilian entity’s corporate group.

The exchange must be for the applicant to “experience in international social or work-related learning carried out in the workplace, to improve initial or ongoing academic studies, aiming to exchange cultural and professional knowledge and experiences”.

The applicant must be enrolled in an undergraduate or postgraduate degree or have completed the course within one year of applying for the visa. The applicant must also have an existing temporary employment contract (full-time or part-time). Additionally, there must be an undertaking by both the applicant and the Brazilian entity receiving the applicant setting out in the exchange program terms.

The visa is valid for one year and is not renewable. Those who are granted the visa may be able to work for up to 90 days during their stay.

(b) Technical Staff Not Employed by Brazilian Companies’ Temporary Visa

Authorisation of residency may be issued before the application for the temporary visa for technical workers to provide services of a technical nature (not including administrative, financial or managerial services).

The authorisation of residency is available for individuals not employed by Brazilian companies that visit Brazil to provide technical assistance relating to specific equipment or for technical cooperation.

Others and “Catch-All” Visa

Specific rules will apply to employees of not-for-profit entities, scholars, religious workers, journalists, among others.

Where none of the specific visas apply to a person seeking to work in Brazil, the applicable rules provide a “catch-all” regulation that gives the National Immigration Council the option to grant a visa for up to two years.

This is a highly discretionary visa which merely requires that the Council applies “criteria, principles and objectives of employment-related immigration” set out in the applicable laws.

Contact me if you require further information.