BRAZIL (May 25, 2017) – Brazil publishes wide-ranging immigration law

The new law takes a more welcoming approach to attracting immigrants to Brazil

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IMPACT – HIGH

What is the change? President Michel Temer has approved Brazil’s New Law on Migration (Nova Lei das Migrações). The law was published Thursday in the Official Gazette.

What does the change mean? The new law revamps the primary legislation on the entry and immigration of foreign nationals and generally takes a more welcoming approach to attracting immigrants to Brazil.

  • Implementation time frame: The law will take effect in 180 days.
  • Visas/permits affected: All visas and permits.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals seeking to work and live in Brazil.
  • Business impact: The law significantly changes Brazilian immigration programs, and streamlines some business and work visa categories.

Background: The new law is the result of a government review of the country’s immigration law, which has been in effect since the 1980 Alien Statute, when foreign presence in Brazil was viewed with greater skepticism. The law guarantees immigrant rights that are equal to those of Brazilian citizens, as well as equal access to public health and education. It passed the House in December and the Senate in April. Among key provisions:

  • The law has a strong humanitarian component. The law defines Brazil’s immigration principles in strong humanitarian terms, including stating that immigration will not be criminalized and rejecting xenophobia and racism. The law promises equal treatment of Brazilian and foreign nationals as well as support to Brazilians living abroad. The law avoids use of the word “foreigner,” since foreign nationals are supposed to be treated on an equal footing with Brazilians.
  • The law establishes a new Visitor Visa category. The new Visitor Visa category will cover a broad spectrum of activities, including, but not limited to, travel for tourism, business and transit or for artistic or athletic purposes.
  • The law makes changes to the Temporary Visa framework. Temporary work visas will be granted to foreign nationals who hold a letter offering employment. Those with university degrees will be eligible for temporary work visas even without an offer letter.
  • The law establishes new protections for Brazilians abroad. A full chapter of the law is dedicated to Brazilians living abroad, and it establishes new rules for providing consular assistance and protecting Brazilians traveling or living around the world.
  • The law rejects broad amnesty. The final version of the law does not include an amnesty plan that would have provided a path to permanent residence for those who entered Brazil before July 6, 2016. The final version also rejected a plan to allow free transit at Brazilian borders for indigenous populations.

The law is silent on Brazil’s Permanent Visa program, but does contain several articles on its Residence Visa program. It also covers other immigration-related topics including family reunion, repatriation, deportation, naturalization and penalties for noncompliance with immigration rules.

BAL Analysis: BAL continues to review and analyze the new law, but in general, the law reflects Brazil’s continuing efforts to promote policies to better attract foreign workers and ease processes for companies to recruit and retain these employees. While the law focuses mainly on refugee issues and preventing human trafficking, it may also provide some benefits to businesses and expatriate employees.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in Brazil. For additional information, please contact brazil@balglobal.com

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