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Brazilian Citizenship

By Joao Luiz Gameleira
November 20, 2012

Brazilian naturalization is the process by which foreigners may obtain Brazilian citizenship, provided they meet certain constitutional and legal requirements. It differs from the original form of acquisition of nationality, which stems from a natural fact; birth in Brazilian territory (jus soli) or by descent from a Brazilian (jus sanguinis).

The naturalization takes its course in the Ministry of Justice and ends with the delivery of the certificate of naturalization by the judge, in the first Federal Court of the locality of the foreigner´s residence. The foreigner can only be considered Brazilian after this final step that marks the moment of actual acquisition of Brazilian nationality.

Foreigners originating from Portuguese-speaking countries require only one year of uninterrupted residence and moral probity. Foreigners originating from other countries require the following conditions:

1. civil capacity according to Brazilian law.
2. have a permanent visa in Brazil;
3. continuous residence for a period of four years;
4. read and write in Portuguese.
5. good conduct and good health;
6. exercise of profession or possession of goods sufficient to maintain itself and the family;
7. good behavior;
8. no conviction in Brazil or abroad for a felony offense that is set minimum sentence of imprisonment, abstractly considered more than a year.

The required four-year period of residence may be shortened to, if the applicant:

1. One year: has a Brazilian child or is married to a Brazilian.
2. One year: has a Brazilian parent;
3. One year: has rendered or is in a position to render relevant services to Brazil, at the discretion of the Minister of Justice.
4. Two years: is eligible because of professional, scientific or artistic ability.
5. Three years: owns property of expressive value in Brazil; is an industrialist, owning expressive resources; or owns expressive paid-in shares in any corporation specially and permanently active in industry or agriculture.

Another possibility to acquire brazilian citizenship is through extraordinary naturalization, where the following conditions are required:

1. fixed residence in the country for more than 15 years;
2. absence of criminal conviction;
3. application of the person concerned.

Finally, the Constitution stipulates that, by virtue of the principle of equality, the law will not establish any distinction between brazilian native-born and naturalized, however, foresees some exceptions for differential treatment for certain positions, functions, extradition and the right to property for foreigners naturalized (less than 10 years) on journalistic and broadcasting company of sounds and images.

Native Brazilians - Exclusive positions: President and Vice-President of the Republic, President of the Chamber of Deputies, Senate Chairman, Minister of the Supreme Court, the diplomatic Career, officer in the armed forces and Minister of State for Defense.

DISCLOSURE: All information herein given is merely for elucidative purposes. It reflects current legislation, which can be modified in the future. In case of questions regarding a particular case/issue, always consult with your own attorney.

João Luiz Gameleira is Lawyer, Post-Graduated in International Law - PUC - São Paulo. Director at Horizon Brazil Consultoria e Assessoria em Imigração Ltda. www.vistoparaestrangeiros.com.br. He can be reached by email at joaoluiz@horizonbrazil.com.br


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