There are various ways to get permanent residency in Brazil, including through marriage, family reunion and the birth of a child. There are also options for retirees, investors, academics and those working in business.
How to get permanent residency in Brazil
Permanent residency allows foreign nationals to remain in Brazil on a long-term basis. There are different grounds for a permanent visa (commonly known as a 'VIPER'), including:
- Family reunion
- Scientist or researcher
- Investment visa
- CEO or administrator of a start-up
- CEO or administrator of a Brazilian corporation
- Other options
Those who marry a Brazilian citizen, or someone who has permanent residency in Brazil, are eligible to become permanent residents themselves. A marriage certificate and a declaration of the union is required.
A parent whose child is a Brazilian citizen can apply for permanent residency on this basis. The child must be financially dependent on the applicant and under their care.
It is possible to get permanent residency in Brazil on the grounds of joining an immediate family member. This family member must either be a Brazilian citizen or permanent resident. It could be:
- A spouse (there is no distinction for same-sex couples)
- A domestic partner who the applicant is in a stable relationship with
- A child under 18 years of age
- A child under 24 years of age, if attending college or pursuing graduate/post-graduate studies
- A child with special needs
- An unmarried orphan sibling, grandchild, or great-grandchild who is under 18 years old
- An unmarried orphan sibling, grandchild or great-grandchild who is under 24 years old and is attending college or pursuing graduate/post graduate studies
- A sibling, grandchild, or great-grandchild with special needs
- A parent who is unable to provide for themselves and/or with special need
- A parent with custody over a Brazilian child that depends on the parent financially
Retirees with a passive income can make Brazil their home. It is necessary to have a monthly income that is the equivalent of at least $6,000 Brazilian Reals (BRL). Additional funds are needed if the applicant is to be accompanied by dependents.
Scientist or researcher
Persons of extraordinary ability in the fields of science, technology, research or academia can get permanent residency in Brazil. Applicants must have a job offer at a Brazilian institute.
Brazil offers its own investor visa which grants immediate permanent residency. Usually, $500,000 BRL must be invested into real estate, a Brazilian start-up or an existing Brazilian company. The amount is reduced to as little as $150,000 BRL if the investment creates 10 jobs for Brazilian residents, or if the investment goes towards technology, innovative products or scientific research.
To be accepted, applicants must have a clean criminal record and submit a business/investment plan. If granted, permanent residency must be renewed every three years. Permanent residency status is dependent on the investment. This means the investment must be maintained if the applicant wishes to remain in Brazil, and does not acquire citizenship or other immigration permissions.
Once the investor visa has been approved, family members are eligible to join the applicant in Brazil.
CEO, manager or administrator of a start-up
If a company has been trading outside of Brazil for at least five years, it can expand its operations and open a start-up in Brazil. A maximum of three visas can be granted to those founding the start-up, such as the CEOs, managers or administrators. Permanent residency is typically granted for two years, after which it can be renewed, subject to certain criteria.
CEO, manager or administrator of a corporation
CEOs, managers and administrators can move to Brazil as part of an intra-company transfer. If the employee is not Brazilian, he/she can get Brazilian permanent residency. However, the company must invest at least $200,000 USD per applicant into the Brazilian company.
It is also necessary to demonstrate that the employee is a specialised worker, or that their appointment has some kind of benefit to Brazil. This could be an increase in productivity, the introduction of new technology, or social improvements.
Permanent residency in Brazil may also be granted in other scenarios, such as to political refugees or asylum seekers.
Where to apply for Brazilian permanent residency
Applications for permanent residency can be made at Brazilian embassies and consulates. There is a significant amount of paperwork to complete, along with documentary evidence to provide.
The exact nature of this evidence depends on the grounds for the application. Someone applying on the basis of marriage to a Brazilian citizen must provide a marriage certificate and a statement from the witnesses. On the other hand, those hoping to secure an investor visa must first get authorization from the Brazilian Ministry of Labor and Employment. A business plan must be submitted, along with long list of other documents.
Because there is no 'one size fits all approach', the permanent residency application process is extremely complex for outsiders. The Brazilian bureaucratic system is also known for being slow and complicated. That is why most people choose to use the services of a Brazilian immigration consultant. An expert can provide further information on eligibility criteria and manage the process on the applicant's behalf.
Renewing Brazilian permanent residency
A permanent visa is typically valid for nine years, although certain categories of people need to renew their permanent residency status after three years, including investors. This is reduced to two years for foreign nationals involved in a Brazilian start-up.
A renewal will be granted, so long as the applicant has not been absent from Brazil for a period of two years, and has maintained the qualifying criteria. This depends on the grounds for the original application. Investors, for example, must continue their investment to remain in Brazil as permanent residents.
Can Brazilian permanent residency be lost?
Brazilian permanent residency will expire if the holder leaves Brazil for a period of more than two years in a row. However, it is possible to apply for a new permanent visa. Permanent residency status can also be lost if residency was based on eligibility criteria, and the holder no longer meets these criteria. For example, if an investor withdraws their investment.
Getting Brazilian citizenship
It is possible to apply for Brazilian citizenship after four years of legal residency in Brazil. This is reduced to one year for those who marry a Brazilian citizen or who have a Brazilian child. Scientists and researchers may be eligible for Brazilian citizenship after two years of legal residency.
Brazil has permitted dual citizenship since June 9 1994.
What if you don't qualify for permanent residency in Brazil?
If permanent residency is not an option, there are other Brazilian visas available. The most popular include:
- A tourist visa - which permits travel to Brazil for a period of up to 90 days
- A business visa - which permits entry to Brazil for business purposes, such as conferences, meetings and training
- A student visa - which grants students and unpaid interns temporary residency in Brazil. This does not permit the visa-holder to complete any kind of paid work in Brazil.
- A work visa - which allows a foreign national to work in Brazil for a Brazilian company or an international company.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.