By Nestor Bailly, Contributing Reporter 

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In July 2, 2009, then-president Lula signed into a law an amnesty granting foreigners who are in Brazil illegally an opportunity to request a temporary two-year residence. Congressman William Woo, originator of the bill that became the Amnesty law, believed the measure would not only benefit illegal workers, but also the country’s economy.

Deputy William Woo, actor of the project that originated the Amnesty law
Deputy William Woo, actor of the project that originated the Amnesty law, photo by Tiagonicastro/Wikimedia Creative Commons License.

“The economy will receive greater external investments as soon as Brazil becomes an aggregate market,” Woo explained.

Now, a year and a half later the deadline is rapidly approaching for those estimated 43,000 foreigners granted amnesty with temporary residency, to apply for permanent residency.

Ninety days before the expiration of their Carteira de Identidade de Estrangeiro (CIE), or Foreign Identity Card, foreigners who wish to gain permanent residency must present themselves at a Federal Police precinct.
Article seven of the Amnesty law states that nintey days before the expiration of the CIE foreigners must prove that 1) they have a ‘lawful profession,’ employment, or have enough assets to provide for themselves and their families; 2) they don’t have any tax debt or criminal record; and 3) they have not left Brazil for more than ninety consecutive days.

As of now that seems to be all the official information available. “I am worried about the lack of specifics on how to represent financial security,” said a foreigner in Rio who was granted the temporary Amnesty, “I got through the process last year, got my RNE card a few months ago, but now that I’m only six months away from the two-year window, it’s time to figure out what’s next”.

CIE card issued in Brazil that contains a Registro Nacional de Estrangeiros (RNE)
CIE card issued in Brazil that contains a Registro Nacional de Estrangeiros (RNE), photo by The Rio Times.

This element of financial means appears to be concerning Amnesty recipients that are legally unemployed or those without proof of profession (such as a medical license), and the authorities have not said how much qualifies as ‘sufficient assets.’ Those visiting and calling Federal Police precincts as recently as January 7th, reported no available details.

Michael Royster, an American attorney in Rio familiar with immigration law says, “Enough assets to live on is not new to this category. Foreigners seeking retiree visas have always needed to show the visa authorities they have assets, wherever located, which will produce enough income for them to live on. This typically involves certified notarized and consularized copies of proof of an income producing asset abroad.”

Royster goes on to explain, “There are some regulated professions that do not require ‘professional’ qualifications, for instance a sales agent or ‘representante comercial’. An individual can become registered as a sales agent, by joining CORE, regional accrediting association (See Article 3 of Law 4886/65).”

He continues, “Once you get registered, you can form a company to perform those services and register it. The only nagging doubt is, will you have to show any income? If you have no income from being a sales agent, the visa authorities could wonder whether that’s really what you do.”

For those not in a situation to work for themselves or start a small business, Royster offers, “Employment is proven by having a Carteira de Trabalho (work booklet) and employment, meaning you have been hired by a company on its books, which employment is also registered on your Carteira de Trabalho.”

As details become more available, it seems likely that acquiring permanent residency will also require renewing the CIE, which “depends on the type of status the foreigner has” according to the Federal Police. It appears the requirements include:
-The original CIE card and certified copy;
-Two recent 3×4 headshot color photos with white background;
-Completed form 154, available at Federal Police precincts;
-Proof of payment GRU #140120 for R$124.23; pay online or at a bank or post office.


  1. has anyone found out what amount of money, assets, or income from abroad is necessary for those who are unemployed to prove that they can support themselves?

  2. Have any foreigners been through this process yet as my visa is due to expire so I need to apply for the permanent visa now.

  3. Thanks Jack, this information was correct at the time of writing, and we are planning a follow-up article soon.


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