Opinion, by Sam Flowers

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Are you considering or already pursuing the Investor Visa, to stay in Brazil long term? Then at some point you will likely ask: “How long does it take to get it?” The short answer: it takes much longer than you want it to. Sorry to disappoint you but it’s true.

Sam Flowers, owner of the Gringo Cafe.

Lately several people have asked me this exact question and they are quite surprised by my answer. In my case the Investor Visa took ten months from start to finish, and I have yet to meet anyone who made it through the process any faster.

Most people I have met who are here on the Investor Visa actually waited longer than I and suffered more obstacles and delays. I wanted to address this question about the duration of the process since my last article describing the steps to obtain the visa, did not include a specific timeline.

So why does it take so long? Basically, because the process is dependent on several third parties that do not have any real incentive to work faster or more efficiently:

– the Junta Comercial which is the government office that approves the establishment of companies;
– the Federal Police that are the gatekeepers on any type of visa;
– the Ministry of Labor that ultimately approves Investor/Work Visas;
– the bank you choose for your company’s business account;
– the lawyers, accountants, consultants, agents that you hire to help you go through the process.

You are truly dependent on each of these entities and even with lots of money, you have little leverage to induce them to work faster. They will earn well whether you get your visa or not, and whether or not you get it quickly. In fact they may truly earn more when you encounter obstacles to overcome.

Again I repeat, “you will likely need ten months or more to get the Investor Visa.” Plan accordingly so you don’t create other complications. For example, manage your time in Brazil to the maximum 180 days per calendar year so you don’t overstay your current tourist or other temporary visa.

Also, recognize that you will need to operate without a bank account that you legally control for this entire period; generally banks only open accounts for people with permanent visas. These are two key things to address in your up front planning.

I have met a few people now who suffered a lot of complications because they assumed things would move faster. I acknowledge and caveat that my perspective is informed by a small sample and relates specifically to Rio de Janeiro.

That said, I’m pretty confident after four years of talking to all types of foreign business people that I’m on target. If you are interested in more detail about why the process takes so long or how to plan for it, I’m happy to help.

Sam Flowers is an American living in Rio de Janeiro who created and founded the Gringo Café in Ipanema in 2010. A former executive and consultant with twenty years experience in Corporate Strategy, Brand Marketing and Finance, Sam also offers consulting services to foreign businesses and people entering or adapting to Brazil. Contact Sam at sam@gringocafe.com.


  1. Sam’s got it right. The time depends upon all those folk he cites, and the worst offenders are the banks. For reasons best known to themselves, they resist opening accounts for companies created by investors, they question whether the investors are really upright (“idôneo”) and they delay and delay and delay. It’s maddening.
    The Federal Immigration Service, on the other hand, is really rather quick about the process, once you have got over the hurdle of the commercial and financial bureaucracy.

  2. The premise of the article is that the main goal is obtaining a visa. If one has that goal, one finds that a way to obtain a visa is to establish a ‘legitimate’ business. In other words the business is a means to the true objective: a visa. From the Brazilian point of view this is the cart in front of the horse.

    The Brazilian government is understandably reluctant to grant a visa based on a tenuous, contrived or temporary investment.

    If, on the other hand, the principal goal is to invest in Brazil there are laws and procedures to do so. An investment by a foreign individual will encounter more difficult hurdles in the process than an investment by a foreign company simply because the Brazilian authorities perceive that a corporate investment will have more staying power with a greater probability of success and therefore beneficial to Brazil. In this process it MAY become necessary to issue a visa for someone to control or manage the investment; but only as a secondary step to support the principal goal of the investment.

    In my opinion starting a business in Brazil is not a do-it-yourself project. It can only be done securely and efficiently with experienced and competent legal assistance. It may cost more in fees but it will save much time and you will have the assurance that you are started on the right foot.

  3. Trying to see the upside – a healthy barrier to entry for all but the most committed and unhinged entrepreneurs.

  4. Sam … I have my company setup in Curitiba, Got my CNPJ no., Co. bank account opened, Transferred required capital, Waiting for my RADAR, final documents submitted with Ministry of labor over a month ago, Last week I got emil for submitting Business plan … Wondering after this how long will it take ? another question .. my regular visa expired … Can I apply for regular business or tourist visa and enter Brasil ..keeping in mind 180 days in one calendar year ? And calendar year is Jan to Dec ? thanks … Anil

  5. @Anil- Don’t want to step on Sam’s consulting business toes, but you need to get in touch with the nearest Brazilian Consulate (assuming you’re back in the US). If not, you need to speak with the PF (Polícia Federal) ASAP and explain that you need an extension on your regular (tourist?) visa. If not, you may be banned from re-entering the country until you find a Brazilian girl to either marry or bear your dual-citizen child.

    Once you’re ‘regularized’, you then should work out whether to come back as an investor or tourist. Question: do you have any other links to the country, i.e. the aforementioned Brazilian wife, family or progeny? If so, they are the most direct track into Brazil “permanently”; if not, boa sorte…

    (Permanent is in quotes because the ‘Permanent Visa’ here is valid for only two years outside the country without re-entry. In other words, if I leave Brazil for 2+ years, I must go through the “challenging” process all over again! Not sure if Investor Visas have such a requirement.)



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