By Ben Tavener, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – While Brazil has made efforts to entice foreign highly skilled workers to the country, it has a natural interest in keeping well-paid professional jobs for Brazilians. With the foreign work visa process already overloaded, a new program to bring Brazilian nationals working abroad back has gained momentum, according to a recent O Globo report.

President of the Conselho Nacional de Imigração (National Immigration Council, CNIg), Paulo Sérgio de Almeida, photo by Agência Senado.
CNIg President Paulo Sérgio de Almeida says that the system for issuing foreigners’ work visas is outdated, photo by Agência Senado.

The opportunity is fed by the fact that many skilled Brazilian candidates are un– or under-employed in other countries due to the global economic crisis or other immigration issues. Yet many of these Brazilians are calling for improvements in wages, social services and tax rates before making the move.

It is estimated some three million Brazilians currently work abroad, although this is difficult to calculate and even harder to verify, as some work on an unofficial basis and have outstayed their visas.

A special cross-ministry commission is to be created this month to discuss with proposals. According to the President of the National Immigration Council (CNIg), Paulo Sérgio de Almeida, businesses will reap the benefits of contracting Brazilians, a far simpler process than hiring foreign nationals:

“When visiting Brazilians living abroad, we often hear that, after years of work and now with grown children, many are unemployed. These are highly-skilled people. Brazil can now offer a place for these people to return to work.”

Graduates and other highly-skilled workers affected by the global crisis should be prime candidates for “repatriation,” particularly those from industries currently in such high demand in Brazil: infrastructure, logistics, oil and gas, and technology.

The lack of skilled labor in Brazil is recognized as one of the contributing factors to the so-called “Brazil cost,” which discourages greater investment in the country from overseas. Its repercussions have been felt with the array of multi-billion-dollar infrastructure projects planned and underway in Brazil in the run-up to the World Cup and Olympics.

IT worker Leonardo Bittencourt, Brazil News
IT consultant Leonardo Bittencourt is heading to Ireland to gain experience working in a European company, but plans to bring his experience back to Brazil, photo by The Rio Times.

The government has previously focused on enticing skilled foreigner workers, particularly in Spain and Portugal, but the CNIg admits the system for conceding work visas to foreigners is outdated, on top of a 192-percent increase in applications since 2005. There are plans to improve the work visa system, but they have been stuck in Congress since 2009.

Now the focus appears to have shifted to bringing back ready-to-work Brazilians, and an attempt to “poach back” suitably-employed Brazilians could also make up part of this plan.

Luiz Carlos Chagas, who works at the Brazilian Embassy in London, initially studied in the UK and returned to Brazil in search of work, “There simply weren’t the jobs for my skills with an equivalent wage, and after years away it was like arriving in a foreign country all over again.”

Now Luiz believes the situation in Brazil has changed, and has been impressed by the idea of a program aimed at getting skilled workers back to Brazil. He believes its success will depend mostly on how practical it is. “If things go well, I could consider giving Brazil another try,” he tells The Rio Times.

Others, like Pedro Baron, a content analyst at Facebook in Dublin, now have a family and have had ongoing career opportunities abroad, “I’ve had the opportunity to work for companies like HP, IBM and now Facebook. Less tax and better public services – public health, education and transport – in Brazil would definitely sway my decision about working back in Brazil,” he tells The Rio Times.


  1. For Oil & Gas it’s been especially hard. The demand is high and Brazilians are required for many positions. The result has been high attrition rates as people change companies constantly, trying to understand the correct compensation. Poaching is so severe that some companies end up spending more on their high-skilled Brazilians than on the foreigners! Still, Brazilians working abroad don’t want to return. Why? Brazilian tax laws are terribly unfriendly to Brazilians. I’ve lived over 20 years abroad now – I have modest investments and debts to repay. I worked in Brazil for a few months several years ago until I realized it wasn’t “legal” for me to keep using my foreign credit cards, and that it was going to cost me a fortune to bring my money into the country – no wonder people smuggle cash in their underwear! I’d have to send money out to pay for my children’s college, my mortgage, etc. I’ve worked in many countries where I never had this issue. I feel Brazil is still too closed and difficult on business and on individual. We (Brazil) need to be more global and less regulated about sending moneys in and out of the country if we want to play in the global arena. The current setup only festers corruption, which is not good for anybody.

  2. Good comment Renato, I face the same problem as an Brazilian expatriate. In theory the above sounds great, but reality is much different and the main reason of this are the absurd taxes that we pay in Brazil.

  3. Many things in Brazil are really outdated. Immigration System, Law System, Labor Laws just number a few. Lawmakers in Brazil like to announce things and to speak about what they are planning but this rarely translate to something concrete. With all the money pumping around and the record tax revenues from Brazilian government they did too little on infrastructure, services and on much other needed improvements.

    Brazilian industry is loosing traction to compete with other countries due to factors like local cost, expensive labor, taxes, etc. It is an ongoing trend that they are desperately trying to fix now with power bill reductions. On long term if they do not revert the trend it will be more industry jobs shifting to more efficient countries.

    What is really interesting about the brazilian economy and the jobs is that the inflation is picking up. government is mucking with some key indicators to create better numbers, growth in 2012 was mediocre and the 2 upcoming events also created a bubble in many areas. Prices are picking up in many areas. Lets wait to see what will happen in 2013.

    The education also needs improvement with more investments in R&D. HR practices from many companies are dated to the 70s. I am still getting from many skilled people I know that they prefer to work for the government in Brazil because it is stable and well paid.

  4. I worked as an engineer for 14 years in Brazil, being married to a Brazilian. I lived through the early 90s hyperinflation and in a system with virtually no public health or education systems worth mentioning, whilst bringing up two children. The taxes wouldn’t be considered high by European middle class standard if only you got anything back for what you put in. I decided to move to France when I got a job offer in 1997 and offered a better education and health service to my family. I visit Brazil ever year on holidays and have to say that there have been significant improvements in many areas, particularly “segurança publica”, women’s rights, income distribution etc..but Brazil still has a long way to go to make itself freindly to foreign and national investors as the complexity of doing business is further burdened by archaic regulatory regimes. Nepotism and corruption seem to be a deeply ingrained cultural trait which, even recent events have proven, make a mockery of the legal system. As the new generation comes up I see some changing attitudes and am encouraged that the country will overcome these challenges. I would sincerly hope that the government takes a long hard look at itself, as that is really the major impediment to improving anything. The Brazilian people are ready for this, but need to insist upon excercising their democratic rights as the political class is the major cause of the wider problems.

  5. When people stay in their own country and work, their country economy will improve which will provide more job opportunities to everyone with better pay. It’s a good idea to bring back to own country and utilize it.

  6. I have a friend in Santos Brazil who speaks fluent English. He is interested in positions for an interpreter, Are there any jobs available at this time for the Olympics?


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