By Jaylan Boyle, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Proposing marriage to the checkout girl at your local supermarket before rushing off to the registry office on the last day of your visa entitlement is definitely not an advisable, nor a quick and easy way to go about getting permanent residency in Brazil. Especially not when the investment visa can get you past much of the red tape, provided you’ve got some serious cash in the bank.
Investment visa legislation is subject to frequent revision, with the latest changes having come into effect in February 2009. The most notable revision is the rise in the amount of cash the applicant needs to invest, from R$100,000 to R$150,000 at time of writing. Many consultancies are pointing out that this amount will continue to vary in years to come.
The visa is open to any investor who has the desire to engage in what the government rather vaguely refers to as ‘productive economic activity’. While it has to be noted that there seems to be a lot of confusion on this point, it appears that the amount you’ll need to bring with you is not set in stone.
There are two essential angles here: either the investor puts R$150,000 into a new or existing Brazilian company, or the slightly more cash-strapped individual presents a plan detailing the creation of at least ten new jobs over a five-year period, and is allowed in with proportionately less money.
This second path comes with several conditions however, one of which being the location of the investment. No further clarification on this point is provided, but it seems the government has a hit-list of places where it would prefer to see the money go.
Whatever the case, the visa allows dependents to enter Brazil as well, although adults will need to provide tangible proof, which in theory should be straightforward for a spouse.
The Brazilian government grants the investment visa for an ‘indeterminate period’, but in practice you’ll need to go and see the Policia Federal in five years for renewal. There is good news as of this year however; the applicant now has three rather than two years in which to satisfy ‘qualifying measures’. Again, this term seems rather vague, but job creation has become one of the big factors in the eyes of the government.
Another important change taking effect this year is the specific exclusion of a few investment categories, including real estate for personal use and interest-earning bank accounts. The key thing to remember is: if you’re planning to invest the stipulated R$150,000, the application process is surprisingly straightforward, and the qualifications you’ll need to satisfy are more or less objective.
However, if you’re going to take advantage of the option whereby you invest less money, the ball is really in the government’s court, as they can measure the relative success or failure of your venture at their discretion.
The prospective investor should keep in mind that certain things are done differently in Brazil. For example, there is a law that places the sole responsibility of an existing business with its new owner, regardless of the actions of its previous owners.
If you’re choking on what might seem like a fairly draconian rule, remember that this is a country where corruption is a huge issue. It is designed to stop people selling a business on to a family member, thereby wiping out previously incurred debt.
Finally, the best advice an investor will get: don’t attempt to navigate the often arcane Brazilian bureaucracy yourself. Get a lawyer to do the running around for you.
* For a handy step-by-step guide on how to go about applying for an investment visa, go to britsinbrazil.com