06 December 2017

BRAZIL: New immigration law in effect

Effective 21 November 2017, a new immigration law went into effect that replaces the previous stricter immigration law that was enacted during Brazil’s military regime in the 1980’s.

The new immigration law that all visa applications for Brazil must comply with going forward, cites no significant changes from the draft that was released 1 November 2017.

The guidelines provided in the Decree contain the following major changes: 

Visa categories are now structured into five specific types: visitor, temporary, diplomatic, official and courtesy visas.

Visitor Visas are available for foreign nationals for short-term visits to carry out tourist, business, transit, artistic or sporting activities who do not intend to reside in Brazil.

  • Tourist visas now have a separate distinction from business visas for the first time.  Additionally, auditing and consulting activities are now permitted in business visitor statuses.  Whereas previously business activities were subject to a wide degree of interpretation.
  • Visitor visa holders can now receive payments from Brazilian entities to cover per diems, travel expenses and prize money from artistic, cultural and sporting competitions even though they still can not receive a local salary.
  • The initial length of stay will be granted for a maximum 90 days with the eligibility to extend an additional 90 days for most foreign nationals. Important to note however that for those conducting the following activities their stay can not extend beyond the initial 90 days: auditing and consulting; maritime; artistic; and sports/athletics. The maximum cumulative stay for all foreign nationals in this category, counted from the date the foreign national first entered Brazil is 180 days during a 12-month period.
  • The most recent list of Visa Waiver Countries was last updated by The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Labour 24 October 2017.   However a new list could be issued at any time.
  • Foreign nationals with a valid tourist and business visa issued prior to this implementation of the new immigration law will be allowed to remain and perform activities prescribed by the new law.
  • Visitor visa applications are now available online.  This system was made available immediately for Australian nationals.  Followed by Japanese nationals being able to use the system from 11 January 2018; Canadian nationals on 18 January, and US nationals 25 January 2018.  These are currently the only nationals able to apply online based on the above commencement dates.  If Japanese, Canadian and US nationals wish to apply prior to the above online application dates will still need to file their application through the Brazilian Consulate. 

Temporary Visas are designed for workers and investors to enter Brazil.  Foreign nationals needing a Temporary Visa can apply at a consulate outside of Brazil.  Foreign nationals who are applying for a residence authorization who are outside Brazil will first need to apply for a Temporary Visa to be able to enter Brazil in order to obtain their residence authorization.

  • Foreign nationals outside Brazil applying for residence authorization will need to obtain a Temporary Visa to enter Brazil, then register with the Federal Police within 90 days of entering the country in order to obtain their residence authorization.  Foreign nationals already in Brazil can apply for residence authorization at the Federal Police, Ministry of Justice, or Ministry of Labour, dependent upon the purpose of the foreign nationals stay. The foreign national must then register at the Federal Police within 30 days of the residence authorization being approved and published in the National Gazette.
  • Most residence subcategories are valid for up to 2 years and have the ability to be either renewed for an additional 2 years or converted to permanent residence.  Exceptions do exist for foreign investor visas and under such an exception residence authorization can be granted indefinitely.

Residence and Temporary visa categories for workers

  • The long-term identity documents issued after the Federal Police registration, formerly named the RNE Card will be renamed the CRNM (carteira de Registro Nacional Migatorio).
  • For both residence and temporary visa categories, foreign nationals must have an offer of employment from the Brazilian entity.  Exceptions are put in place for foreign nationals who hold a university degree in a profession that is considered ‘strategic’ to Brazil, however this term is not defined at this time.
  • Information regarding the procedures, eligibility and documents that are required have still not been released.  We are monitoring the situation and will provide further updates as they become available.
  • Previously foreign nationals who entered Brazil on visitor status were required to leave the country when applying to change their status for residence authorization, however they can now apply in country.

In addition, the following changes were discussed in the Decree: 

  • Foreign nationals in Brazil without legal status or deemed "irregular" are no longer prevented from filing an in-country Residence Authorization.   
  • Foreign nationals and companies who violate the immigration laws are subject to deportation and fines which are substantially more than under the previous law.  Foreign nationals are subject to deportation and fines ranging from 35 to 3,500 USD, whereas companies may be fined between 350 to 350,000 USD
  • All Visa application filed prior to 21 November 2017 with the Ministry of Labour will be adjudicated based on the former law.  However, this is contingent upon the corresponding consular visa was obtained at a Brazilian Consulate abroad within 90 days of the Ministry of Labours approval of the application and publishing in the official gazette.

How does this affect the client?

Foreign nationals that are already in Brazil are not required to complete any additional requirements, provided they have valid work or residence status and have registered with the Federal Police under the previous law.  Renewal applications may be subject to different requirements; however, without the release of the Normative Resolution any specifics can not yet be confirmed. 

Since the related resolutions have yet to be released, much uncertainty around the details still remain.  As such foreign nationals and employers should be prepared for the following:

  • Government officials to take a cautious approach to adjudicating applications during the transition period.  
  • Delays in processing of all immigration related applications in Brazil.  
  • Significant delays with the Federal Police, the entity with which foreign nationals must register their visas within 90 days of entry.   More specific, foreign nationals should expect cancellation of some registration appointments, delayed issuance of their CRNMs, which would prevent them from conducting local transactions such as obtaining a cell phone or opening a bank account.




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