By Robert Eugene DiPaolo
You might think that the fastest and easiest way to get a permanent visa in Brazil would be to marry a Brazilian. However, there is actually a more efficient and convenient way to obtain permanent residency in Brazil. And one that does not require you to make a lifetime commitment, or an emotion-based decision undertaken in the throes of passion on the way to the airport on the day your tourist visa is set to expire.
In an apparent effort to attract individual investments in Brazil, Brazil’s National Immigration Council, or the NIC, in October 2004, issued Resolution 60/04 regarding the issuance of permanent visas to individual foreign investors. This Resolution, which replaced Resolution 28 from November 1998, reduced the amount of money a foreign individual is required to invest in Brazil to obtain a permanent residency visa from US$200,000 to US$50,000, making this an affordable, efficient and convenient way to obtain permanent residency in Brazil.
This new regulation actually gives foreign investors two options. The first option, which we will refer to as Option 1″ allows the foreign investor to obtain a permanent visa by investing US$50,000 or more in Brazil. The second option, which we will refer to as “Option 2” permits the foreign individual to invest less than US$50,000 in connection with the submission of a plan to create at least ten new jobs in the five year period following the date of such investment. In either case, the funds must be invested into a newly formed or an existing Brazilian company and employed in productive activities in Brazil.
There a few things that you should know about this permanent visa for foreign investors. First, while it is referred to in the resolution as a “permanent visa”, it is actually something less than permanent. In fact, this permanent visa expires after five years. At the end of five years the law allows the investor to renew the visa by demonstrating that he or she continues to be an investor in Brazil and presenting documentation in connection therewith. Given that it has been less than five years since this resolution was enacted, the process by which such renewal will be granted is not yet clear. However, since the sole requirement in terms of the use of the invested funds is that they be deployed toward productive activities in Brazil, it’s reasonable to anticipate that the investment must remain in Brazil and be deployed during such five year period into some productive activity, such as opening a new business, participating in an existing business, or purchasing a piece of real estate. With respect to Option 2, it’s reasonable to anticipate that at the end of such five year period, the investor will need to have created at least ten jobs in Brazil as specified in his or her investment plan.
The second thing you should understand about this visa is that while the criteria to obtain a visa pursuant to Option 1 are completely objective, the criteria pursuant to Option 2 are completely subjective. Under Option 1, if you invest US$50,000 or more in a new or existing company, properly register the investment in Brazil, and apply for the visa, you will be issued the residency visa. Unlike many other things in Brazil, the process is fairly straightforward. Under Option 2 however, the new law does not provide any guidelines regarding what criteria should be used to evaluate the investor’s plan to create ten new jobs in Brazil, or what amount of money less than US$50,000 would be considered reasonable to do so. As a result, the NIC’s evaluation and decision is completely discretionary. This means that the review of a visa application pursuant to Option 2 will take much longer and that decisions pursuant thereto will likely not be uniform so as to provide any real guidance for the would be investor to follow. So, if you don’t happen to have US$50,000 to invest in Brazil, marriage may prove to be your best option. If however you do, then this is the most convenient and efficient way to secure permanent residency in Brazil.
The third thing you should know about this visa is that there is a lot of misinformation about it, including at the website of Consulate General of Brazil in San Francisco, which confuses the requirements of Option 1 and Option 2. Others have incorrectly assumed that the requirement that the invested funds must be employed in productive activities in Brazil prohibits the investor from purchasing non-commercial real estate, such as a beach house, or other investments which may not seem to have an obvious commercial purpose. The law simply does not specify what “productive activities” means or does not mean, and given that any such purchase will be made through a newly formed or existing company, there is no reason to assume that such purchases would not satisfy the requirements set forth in this resolution. In any event, if you wish to acquire an investor visa, it is advised that you obtain your advice from a competent professional, who is familiar with the law and its related requirements. And if you happen to read Portuguese, you can read the full text of the resolution yourself, which can be easily found by putting “Resoluão Normativa n 60, de 06 de outubro de 2004” into your favorite search engine on the world wide web.
The purpose of this article is not to bore you with all the details regarding the process which you will need to go through to obtain a permanent residency visa by investing in Brazil, from organizing a new company, obtaining your tax payer identity card or Cadastro de Pessosa Fsicas to registering your investment with Banco Central do Brasil, but to provide you with a clear understanding of the legal requirements, and to dispel frequent misunderstandings about them. When you are ready to undertake the task of obtaining a permanent investor visa, your lawyer will guide you through all the steps you will need to take. If you choose Option 1, the process is fairly straight forward and completely objective. However, if you are considering Option 2, which generally speaking is not recommended, you may want to reconsider the marriage option. Just don’t make your decision on the way to the airport on the last day on which your tourist visa is valid. Such a decisions made in the throes of passion often end up being far more costly, not to mention complicated, in the long run.
Mr. DiPaolo is the managing director of The Fidelis Group do Brasil Consultoria, Ltda., a legal/business consultancy specializing in assisting non-Brazilians who want to do business or invest in Brazil and Brazilians who want to do business or invest in the U.S. You can find out more about The Fidelis Group at www.fidelisgroupco.com or contact Mr. DiPaolo directly at email@example.com.
Previous articles by Robert:
Doing Business In Brazil: Part 5 – Acquisitions, Investments and Joint Ventures
Doing Business In Brazil: Part 4 – The Despachante
Doing Business In Brazil: Part 3 – Starting Your Business
Doing Business In Brazil: Part 2 – The Variety of Brazilian Companies
Doing Business In Brazil: Part 1“