By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Authorization of work visas for foreigners in Brazil fell by 21.12 percent according to a survey based on the last available data released by the country’s Labor Ministry. The data shows that in 2015 the Brazilian government granted 36,868 work authorizations for non-Brazilians, while in 2014 that number reached 46,740.
The survey conducted by Globo’s G1 website channel, with data from the General Immigration Coordination Department (CGIg) shows that almost half of the professionals sought to work in the state of Rio de Janeiro.
“It is a natural decline that follows the economic moment that we are currently living,” Luiz Alberto Matos dos Santos, deputy general immigration coordinator at the Ministry of Labor was quoted as saying to G1.
In 2008 and 2009, while the U.S. and Europe were facing economic turmoil, Brazil was pegged by many foreign economists as one of the most promising emerging markets in the world. The country’s successful bids to host the 2014 World Soccer Cup and the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games brought hundreds of foreigners and investors to Brazil.
Between 2011 and 2013 experienced a boom of foreign professionals entering the country. According to the Ministry of Labor, in those three years more than 198,000 professionals arrived to work in the country. However, by 2014 the tide began to change.
Foreign companies started to invest less than in Brazil, bringing less qualified professionals to the country. In 2015, according to the survey, a total of 15,947 college-educated professionals sought work visas, 10,000 less than in 2014.
“Because of the economic instability of the country and the financial fragility of many sectors, the number of foreigners has decreased and professionals come into the country with lower costs,” Marta Mitico, founder and partner at BR-Visa office, a company that renders consultancy advice on immigration.
In addition to seeking jobs in the middle of the country’s harshest recession in decades, most foreigners found themselves discouraged by the depreciation of the Brazilian currency. In 2015, the Brazilian currency lost 48 percent of its value in relation to the U.S. dollar. It was, therefore, less interesting for a foreigner to receive wages in the Brazilian real.
Scottish expatiate Craig Melville, who works in the petroleum industry, described, “Over the past year, I have seen huge swings in exchange rate between the GBP and R$. This has a huge bearing on the value of what I’m sending home so timing is everything.”
Work permits can be authorized anywhere from ninety days to two years in Brazil, with or without work contracts.