By Juliana Tafur, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – In this week’s edition of the radio program “Café com o Presidente”, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva spoke about his government’s decision to provide visa amnesty to thousands of illegal workers in the country. The law, signed into effect on July 2, could regularize the situations of up to 150,000 foreigners who entered Brazil before February 1st of this year.
“The initiative provides yet another lesson to the so-called developed world. While they [developed countries] are chasing the immigrants, in Brazil, we signed a law that recognizes the immigrants,” said the President. “The law will provide foreigners with the same rights that we give to our own people,” he added.
This means that amnesty recipients will have the right to employment, education, public health, justice and liberty of movement. The only exception is that unlike citizens, the newly-naturalized will be exempt from participation in certain unspecified business activities.
During the radio program, Mr. Lula also announced the launch of a new internet tool called “certidão negativa de naturalização”. According to the President, this will allow “expediting the naturalization of foreigners in a quick, secure and transparent way.”
In order for people to benefit from the Amnesty legislation, they must have entered Brazil illegally or overstayed their visa. The initiative also applies to those who were covered under law 9.675/90, but failed to finalize their permanent residency petitions. Illegal immigrants who meet these criteria can request a temporary two-year residence.
“The important thing is for the request for temporary residency to be filed within 180 days from the publication of this new law,” says Attorney Jose Santiago. That means people have roughly until the end of the year to submit their applications to the Ministry of Justice.
To get started, the Planet Eye website “The Rio Guide” says people can register with the federal police at the international airport starting next Monday, July 13th. The requirements listed include authenticated passport copies, two passport-size photographs and a registration form provided by the pertinent consulate or embassy.
Additionally, people will have to present a pay stub for R$31.05, confirming payment of the Carteira de Identidade de Estrangeiro (CEI), pay a registry tax for the sum of R$64.58 and fill out a declaration that confirms a clean criminal record.
Applicants have the option to request permanent residency up to three months before their temporary residence expires. They will then be required to show means of support, a clean criminal record, no outstanding debts and a stay in Brazil of more than 90 consecutive days during the period of temporary residence.
Congressman William Woo, actor of the project that originated the Amnesty law, believes the measure will not only benefit illegal workers, but also the country’s economy. “The economy will receive greater external investments as soon as Brazil becomes an aggregate market,” he said.
A PDF version of the official Anistia (Amnesty) instructions is available for download, which also lists the official website: http://www.mj.gov.br/estrangeiros, as well as an email address and phone number for questions: firstname.lastname@example.org or +55 61 2025 3232.