A seminar with immigration officials has clarified several rules outlined in a decree published in May. Key clarifications are related to dependants automatic work authorisation, the elimination of the proof of residency requirement for business and work visa applicants and the status change rule for temporary residents and tourists. These rules are effective immediately (except those that require a separate Normative Resolution to be implemented) but may be subject to discretionary application by government officials. The clarifications are discussed below.
Changes for Dependants
Dependants under a temporary visa and over 16 years of age, who became eligible for automatic work authorisation in May, will still be tied to the principal and subject to the principal visa’s validity and any other conditions.
Stateless foreign nationals (those who have lost their nationality of origin) with a Civil Partnership Certificate showing partnership with a Brazilian national are now eligible to apply for travel documents in Brazil.
Consular Jurisdiction Requirement Eliminated
Business and work visa applicants no longer need to submit their application and proof of residence to the Brazilian consulate with jurisdiction over their place of residence. Only applicants for cultural, educational and religious exchange visas will be subject to the jurisdiction requirement.
Change of Status Rule Relaxed
Immigration authorities have clarified the procedures regarding the rule change for temporary residents who can now change to work visa status in Brazil, and tourists who can change to student visa status in Brazil. Holders of artist, student, journalist, and religious visas will also be permitted to change their status to work visa. Applicants must file their request at the Ministry of Labour instead of submitting a consular application.
A new Normative Resolution is expected to provide further guidance on change of status rules.
Change of Employer Rules Relaxed
Foreign nationals filing change of employer applications (where the two companies are not part of the same corporate group) can begin working for the new company immediately upon filing. They also no longer require the current employer’s authorisation and declaration covering the foreign national’s repatriation costs. Previously, the former employer had to present an authorisation letter for the Ministry of Justice’s approval, which could take up to one year. In practice, many foreign nationals applied for a new visa (which required exiting Brazil) to circumvent the long Ministry of Justice approval.
The new employer will need to present an executed employment contract and all corporate documents required for an initial visa application.
Change of employer applications for two entities within the same corporate group require only a notification to the Ministry of Labour within 15 days of the change.
New Online Systems
Due to the creation of new online systems, the following changes are in effect:
One-Year Technical Visa and Work Contract Visa renewal applications filed on or after May 11, 2016 will be processed by the Ministry of Labour (without the Ministry of Justice) within 30 calendar days, instead of the previous eight-month processing time. Applicants can submit their applications online to the Ministry of Labour’s new portal.
Foreign nationals must notify the Federal Police within 30 days of a change of residence through a new electronic system. Previously, change of residence notifications were made in person to the Federal Police branches of the previous and new address.
Naturalisation certificates will now be issued electronically. Naturalisation applicants no longer need to renounce their previous nationality or present proof of knowledge of Portuguese or police clearances from all cities where the foreign national has resided the past four years in Brazil.
Entry and Status Document Changes
For foreign nationals with pending visa renewal applications, the renewal protocol document obtained through the Ministry of Labour’s website will now be considered an official document to evidence legal status in Brazil. However, some airlines still may not accept this document to re-enter Brazil, in which case, visa nationals with a pending renewal application may still need to obtain a tourist or business visa to re-enter.
The RNE (Registro Nacional de Estrangeiros) protocol document granted following Federal Police registration of the foreign national’s initial visa, as well as the RNE protocol document granted after the approval of the renewal application, will now be issued with a 180-day validity by all Federal Police branches. Previously, the validity of the RNE protocol, which serves as a temporary identification document, varied depending on the Federal Police branch that issued it.
Nationals of Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname or Uruguay who live along Brazil’s border and travel to Brazil to work or study will now receive a document from the Federal Police that identifies them as commuters. For Federal Police registration, they only need to present an affidavit that they work or study in Brazil and proof of residence in a location along Brazil’s border, instead of the previous proof of nationality, an employment offer letter or proof of enrolment in an educational institution.
New Processes and Categories
A streamlined application process has been created for foreign professionals involved in the development of strategic activities in Brazil. Such professionals will be able to present an executed employment contract up to six months after arriving in Brazil, as opposed to the requirement for other categories — for example, the Work Contract Visa category, which requires an executed employment contract in support of the visa application.
A new work visa category has been created for foreign nationals involved in research, development and innovation.
The details of both processes are forthcoming. A Normative Resolution is expected to define what categories of activities qualify as “strategic.”
Other Relaxed Procedures
One-Year Technical Visa and Work Contract Visa renewal applications no longer have to be filed 30 days prior to expiry, and can now be filed anytime prior to expiry.
Student visa holders are no longer required to register with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs within 30 days of arrival.
What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals
Employers and foreign nationals should benefit from the various rule relaxations and new processes, and should contact their immigration professional to discuss their applicability, details and effect on service costs.
A New Normative Resolution is likely forthcoming, and should detail the procedures for the above changes.