By Brennan Stark, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The number of foreigners residing in Brazil has increased by 52.4 percent over the past six months, reported the Ministério da Justiça (Ministry of Justice).  The new data marks the first time in two decades wherein the amount of immigrants surpassed the number of Brazilians living abroad.

Bolivians made up 40 percent of the immigration amnesty applicants in 2009, Brazil News
Bolivians made up 40 percent of the immigration amnesty applicants in 2009, image recreation.

The figures, which took into account those that live in Brazil for work, study, or to accompany a spouse, had reached nearly 1.5 million by June 2011.  With major NGO’s estimating another 600,000 living illegally in Brazil, the figures now surge past two million.

Among legal immigrants, the largest groups are of Portuguese origin, Bolivian, Paraguayan and Chinese, in that order.

The wave of foreigners moving to Brazil contrasts sharply with the steep decline of Brazilians emigrating to other countries.  The Ministry of Justice estimates that two million Brazilians now live abroad, as compared to four million in 2005.

National Secretary of Justice Paulo Abrão suggests the new balance in migration is largely due to Brazil’s recent economic boom, which occurred at a time when the U.S., European, and Japanese markets were in crisis.

The accommodating policies of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who in 2009 granted immigration amnesty to those then living illegally in Brazil with the possibility of permanent residency status within two years, has added to the number.

The largest groups that received the immigration amnesty are the Bolivians (40 percent of the total of about 47,000 temporary visas issued), Chinese (13 percent), Peruvians (11 percent), Paraguay (10 percent) and Korean (3 percent).

Read more (in Portuguese).

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