By Ben Tavener, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Brazilian government is looking to change the way its immigration policy is oriented towards highly-skilled foreign professionals wanting to work in the country. Some commentators say that Brazil wants to lure skilled workers from Europe made unemployed in the economic downturn, at the same time as a crackdown against illegal workers has also been announced.

Brazil Visa, Brazil News
Brazil's Ministry of Work permitted over 51,000 people to work between January and September in 2011, up 32 percent, photo by The Rio Times.

If recommendations from a presidential advisory group are followed, highly-qualified foreign workers could be given VIP visa treatment.

The experts say existing rules for skilled migrants are too strict, and that there is too much bureaucracy for applicants while proving their eligibility in the work visa process.

Economist Ricardo Paes de Barros, who is leading the advisory group from the President’s Secretariat of Strategic Affairs (SAE), said that Brazil could see a new wave of skilled immigration if it removed obstacles for those trying to obtain a work visa.

“Brazil is now an island of prosperity in the world and a lot of top-quality people want to come. But the line for visas is the same for everyone. We’re not looking at people closely enough to see who will bring in the skills [needed],” said the economist.

But he added that for unskilled immigrants, including those escaping third-world poverty, Brazil would have to “define how far its generosity extends.”

Regular unskilled immigrants looking to work in Brazil will still have to join the back of the line to get their visa, and the government has also announced a crackdown on illegal foreign workers.

An investigative group from Brazil’s Ministério Público Federal (Public Ministry) says that current strict rules on work visas, coupled with the country’s booming economy, may have sparked a spate of corruption at Brazil’s ports of entry.

Among the suspects is Rio de Janeiro-Galeão (GIG) International Airport, with foreign workers’ sights apparently set on the oil rigs off the Rio State coast. It is suspected some illegal foreign workers enter on a tourist visa – which many nationalities can obtain as they arrive in Brazil.

Economist Ricardo Paes de Barro, Brazil News
Economist Ricardo Paes de Barros said Brazil could see a new wave of skilled immigration to Brazil if it facilitated the visa process, photo by Flickr Creative Commons License/SAEPR.

However, when it comes to highly-skilled foreign professionals, economists point out that this category brings more than just extra hands to fill the gaps – they bring knowledge, technology and a view from outside for the companies employing them.

The proposal of a selective immigration process takes its inspiration from Canadian and Australian policy, whereby those wanting to work in the country are graded based on the qualifications and overall “desirability”.

The preliminary version of the SAE’s project for improving the visa process for skilled foreign workers, a collaboration by economists, lawyers, sociologists and demographers, should be ready in March.

Brazil’s Ministry of Labor and Employment granted 51,353 work permits to foreigners between January and September 2011, up 32 percent year-on-year, O Globo newspaper reported. The number of workers from Spain, for example, grew at least 45 percent.

Some Brazilian companies are said to be opening branches in target countries – such as Spain and Portugal – to circumvent Brazil’s visa process and find the right people to plug gaps in their companies’ workforce.

Whether this attempt by Brazil can bring about a significant knowledge pool from European markets, where professionals have been left jobless by faltering economies, has yet to be seen.


  1. This is good news for investors and business people wanting to work and enjoy the brazilain lifestyle without becoming an “irregular” waiting for the amnesty to roll around again.

  2. It has nothing to do with business people or investors, they are talking about engineers and technicians. Without these skilled people they cannot get the oil out of the ocean!

  3. This is geared solely to engineers working specifically in the oil business. Brasil is a great place for that field, or investors, but for someone with a work visa, working in education like myself, it’s very difficult to get a work visa. And the salaries of the country are sure to turn other professionals not working on the oil rigs away…

  4. The text “if it facilitated the visa process” in the article photo means that getting a visa more easily because you are highly skilled isn’t the case yet, so I assume this applies to all 51,353 visa being acquired equally. Also, I can hardly see all of these working on oil-rigs. Meanwhile, I would love to be updated on steps taken to facilitate for example young professionals to start or continue their career in Brazil.

  5. It is true that Brasil needs skilled workers, specially for Oil Industry…but, I´m sure we will surpass this quickly…Moreover, it has never been easy for Brasilian people to get in Britain or America before this downturn, even in Australia we need Visa…hehe. Please, don´t think it´s easy or that simple to get a work visa over there…Honestly,I would like to see it even more difficult for foreigners.

  6. Not the case…I’m not an engineer, just an exchange student with a lot of background experience in Brazil (12 years comprised of military + personal). I was hired by a company for a top management gig upon arrival and subsequently had to withdraw myself when the visa hurdle came about.

  7. @ Leo, don’t forget that Britain, American and Australia do all of their immigration control and due diligence up front when Brazilians receive their visas and enter the country. There’s no immigration control in these countries when you leave (e.g., no fines, no controls). In Brazil, it’s easier for foreigners to obtain tourist visas, but then foreigners have to deal with the controle de imigracao on the way out. Just an observation.

  8. Great news. We run a real estate agency aiming toward polish clients wanted invest in foreig real estate especially in Spain and Brazil. Also looking for reliable real estate agencies wanted cooperate with us. Contact on our website.
    Kind regards.

  9. hi there,s alot of things i do not understang why at the brazil consulate in haiti after u apply for the visa u pay 200us for the visa and after that u have to give 800us dollar more so that there could give u the visa

  10. i love Brazil so much i pray God should give there leaders wisdom to continue there good works they are the best country in the world,there people and there govt are perfect there embassy no recist they isure millions of people visa to there country create job for more than 51.000,00 peoples issued residents to people to work,visit the country there citizems are the best they love everybody the youths are friendly.
    to every one that wants to visit Brazil is a place to go for holiday long live Brazil

  11. aaahh, alright. professional workers. but what should a simple working class man do in brazil? or is it that they have enough of them in the country already and they dont offer anything for foreigners like that..
    thats a pity. im just a regular guy who loves brazil and wants to live there, but its hard to find a way for making a living…

  12. My wife is an Industrial Electrician and myself an Industrial Millwright. We live in northern BC, Canada and just spent a month traveling around Brazil and would love nothing more then to be able to find work and a new place to call home there. The place and people are truly amazing and we loved every bit of it.

  13. Let me just say that brazil is a good place to live if you pick the right place to live and you have the money.As for work visa its a heard thing to get and people the work visa you get from the country you leave from not when you get here,as for work there is lots of it and the money is very good.I am letting you know about the work visa because a friend wanted to live in brazil to work for 2 years and had the work ready but the visa you can not get for two years in brazil its got to be from the embessy of brazil in your country.if the embessy of brazil in your country say no you get this from brazil they are wrong and you will come here and in 90 days you will have to leave and then to go back to brazil you need 1 year.

    dont just look as a traveling around Brazil only the good places in 80% of brazil its like third-world poverty and not safe at night,you have to live over a year to understand the way things work and there is good people and very bad people.As for you have to speak and write portugese to find work no you dont,you can speak very little and still get a very good place of work.

  14. Hi to every one,
    I am indian, 19 years work experience in oil & gas construction field (on shore & off shore).
    I hold BE in Electrical Engineering & MBA in Oil & Nature Gas Technology.
    How to find the job in Brazil
    Where to approach.
    guide me please…

  15. It’s quite funny to see how hard ppl are trying to get visa but they don’t even know the half of it. After all the bureaucratic circus you will have to go through to get your visa sorted (if you dont have the chance to have a brazilian spouse like I did), average gringo will be stuck because his cv will automaticaly be bottom of the pile. He will eventualy get a very few call every now and then for under paid jobs but it will turn out to be misunderstandings as soon as they hear his accent. Apart from the well connected private buisness school elite, the international expats, and the oil industry workers the rest of the migrant workforce is persona non grata unless you’re willing to teach your language to the under educated masses so they can eventualy fill the role of an international candidate. The application process to live and work in brazil could be summed up as follow, what do you have to bring? Teach us, then leave by all means. You’ll always be welcome back on hollidays to spend your dollars/pounds/euros in the land of Brasil Brasileiro for Brazilian and… no one else.

  16. Very late response to Leobr, “Please, don´t think it´s easy or that simple to get a work visa over there…Honestly,I would like to see it even more difficult for foreigners.”
    Don’t worry as I have previously posted you’ll be glad to know that beside the visa problem it is close to mission impossible for an average foreigner to find a half decent job in Brazil because most ppl seems to share your thoughts.
    I don’t know which struggles you had to come through abroad but obviously your were not part of the thousands of average brazilians working and living in the uk. Shame…


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