Moving to Brazil?
Expat Info Brazil: Destinations, Jobs, Visas
Other Expat Destinations
Unlike São Paulo and Rio, the nation’s capital, Brasília, is purely the country’s political center. Its sizeable expat community consists mainly of diplomatic staff, journalists, and foreign correspondents. With 2.6 million residents, Brasília seems almost small when compared to São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. In fact, life tends to be a lot less hectic and chaotic there than in other Brazilian cities.
Macaé, the center of the country’s offshore petroleum industry, located around 180 km northeast of Rio de Janeiro, also has a consistent demand for foreign experts. Consequently, the city has a sizeable, mainly English-speaking expat community and quite a decent expat infrastructure, including international schools. Other expat destinations may include some of Brazil’s coastal cities, such as Fortaleza, Recife, and Porto Alegre.
Expat Job Market
The large majority of expats working in Brazil are transferees from foreign companies and multinationals that operate local branches in São Paulo or other Brazilian cities. The job market for self-made expats in Brazil is extremely competitive, and it is difficult to come by a well-paid position without the backing of an influential HR department or extensive networking ties.
Experience shows that it is unwise to move to Brazil unless you have managed to secure a job. Many hopeful expats eventually return to their home countries a lot sooner than they had anticipated. Those with hard skills in areas such as engineering, high-tech, finance, or management do, however, stand a chance.
Teaching English as a second language (ESL) is a popular alternative for those who cannot find a job in their original profession. Native English speakers are indeed sought after by language schools and corporate offices. Nevertheless, teaching positions are not that well-paid, and expats find it difficult to maintain their previous standard of living. Sufficient knowledge of Portuguese is usually a prerequisite for finding employment in Brazil.
The Brazilian Foreigners’ Statute distinguishes between a variety of short-term visas for different categories and permanent visas for those intending to move to Brazil indefinitely. Short-term visas include tourist and business visas.
While tourists from certain countries, such as many other South American states and European Union states, may enter the country for a maximum of 90 days without a visa; all other short-term visitors must apply for a visa beforehand. So-called business visas are intended for short-term business trips only and do not permit the holder to take up work in Brazil. Additionally, there are other types of temporary visas for researchers, artists, exchange students, volunteers, and religious missionaries, which may be issued for a longer period.
Those planning to live and work in Brazil may apply for a category V temporary visa (VITERM) or a permanent visa (VIPER). Temporary visas in category V are intended for those who have already signed a temporary employment contract with a Brazilian employer. As work contracts have to be examined and approved by the Ministry of Labor before the visa application is processed, the success rate remains relatively low. The obvious exceptions are intra-company transfers, where the appropriate visas are rarely denied.
The visa is valid for up to two years, and it can be extended only once. However, as of November 2011, the extension is no longer limited to another two years. The work visa can thus be extended for an undetermined, albeit not permanent period of time. Temporary work visas are limited to the position specified in the visa: The holder is not permitted to change jobs while in the country or to remain in Brazil after the employment contract has expired.
Many expats planning to move to Brazil apply for a permanent visa instead. This allows them to change jobs without losing their residence permit and to avoid applying for a visa renewal. Permanent visas for Brazil can be granted to expats with specific qualifications and a working contract in Brazil, to those seeking to start a business in Brazil, provided they bring a certain minimum amount of financial capital, and retirees with a monthly pension of at least $2,250 USD.
To be considered for a permanent visa, the applicant needs to have a police certificate showing no criminal record. If they seek employment in Brazil, they must also prove that they possess special skills of benefit to the Brazilian economy.
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