NOTE: Please also read about easier rules for work visas in Brazil. If you already have a Visa and want to know how to obtain your documents when in Brazil, check this other post.
A foreigner who wishes to work in Brazil might think that the first explorers who courageously faced the deep forests of the country had an easier path than the one he is facing. Indeed, those who are not accustomed with our muscular, hulk-like bureaucratic processes might believe the jungle would be less of a challenge.
But however confusing this path may seem, it is the only legal and safe option for immigrants. Indeed, any foreigner who wishes to do any type of work in Brazil, including temporary or seasonal services, must obtain a work permit and a visa.
This is important: the Business visa (VITEM II), which is much simpler to obtain, is not sufficient for the person to perform any kind of services in Brazil (That is, a business visa is OK for a business trip, a dinner and exchanging cards, but not for performing any kind of work that is paid by a Brazilian, or any technical work hired by a Brazilian company)
So what exactly is the process for a foreigner to obtain a work permit and visa?
A foreword: work visas in Brazil are not granted easily. The Brazilian government is truly afraid of foreigners who come to “steal” Brazilian jobs. The pre requisites for the granting of a visa are strict, such as: minimum of 9 years of experience in the job, or a graduation diploma plus some experience, or a post-graduation degree. Some of those requirements are waived if the applicant comes from South America.
That said, please check the steps:
Firstly, the foreigner must define for which Brazilian company he will work. In practically all cases, the work permit must be requested by the hiring company. In short: get the job before you pack. There is no way of finding a job in Brazil under a tourist visa and then sort things out.
The second step is to prepare documents. This involves filling a couple of government forms, plus obtaining copy of several personal and company documents. So, be prepared for the paperwork
Beware that foreign documents are only valid in Brazil if the documents are previously notarized in their country and later legalized at the Brazilian consulate (notable exceptions are France and Argentina because of bilateral treaties they have with Brazil). Also, if the documents aren’t in Portuguese, they must be translated by a sworn translator in Brazil. (Translation is not cheap)
Accordingly, when considering how long it will take to get the visa, remember to account for the time necessary to notarize, legalize and translate all documents. Most of times, this adds 3 weeks to the process.
So, after all the documents are ready, step three is to do the actual filing of the work permit request before the Ministry of Labor, in Brasilia. This phase involves an electronic request, made through a website, and also the presentation of hard copies of the documents directly to the Ministry.
After the request for the work permit is filed at the Ministry, it is usually pre-analyzed in up to fifty days.
After the pre-analysis, the Ministry will inform if there are any missing documents. The process is halted until you provide them.
Once the documents are perfect, the visa enter the line for a definitive evaluation. That is when the procedure gets slow. One can hear stories telling of a waiting time anywhere from 30 days to 8 months.
Also, remember there is no official way for expediting the process, so if you are in a hurry, you should look for professional help.
At the end, even if it takes a while, the Ministry will make its decision. Let’s assume it is a positive one, so that we can move on (it the decision is for the denial of the visa, chances are the process will have to be repeated from the top)
Fourth and final step: requesting the visa.
Remember that, up to now, you were asking for the Brazilian Ministry of Labor to allow you a work permit. Now it is time to request the actual Visa (the stamp in your passport).
This visa request must be conducted at the Brazilian consulate in the foreigner’s country. Pay attention, you are back at your country now.
The price and extension of this process depends on the foreigner’s country of residence. The Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Relations adopts a reciprocity approach to visa matters. What this means in practice is that if a Brazilian can easily get a visa to your country, you’ll probably face no difficulties in obtaining one, but the inverse rationale also applies.
In practical terms: Canada will issue the Visa in no time. Other big economies won’t be so expeditious.
In the end, legally immigrating to Brazil is a true quest – all you can do is prepare and hope to have a bit of luck in the process.
But luck only works if you’re prepared, so talk to your contracting company, carefully prepare all the right papers, take the measures to legalize and translate them and, most importantly, don’t hesitate to look for professional help.
REALLY, don’t hesitate to look for professional help. I’m always amazed to find that people try to do all by themselves
In the next days we will provide a quick overview of the most common types of work permit and what documents are usually required by the Ministry.