Providing a background check might be required by some authorities in Brazil, specially during applications for visas. In this article we will learn more about the implications of having a criminal record, and its influences on getting a legal permanence in the country.
When do I need to present my criminal records?
Typically, tourists do not need to present a background check if their intention is to stay in Brazil for a maximum of 90 days. However, if the plan is to stay longer than this period, applying for a permanent or temporary visa, the authorities might ask for a criminal records certificate.
When applying for a visa in Brazil, as in many other countries, a foreigner must prove their previous good behavior, for the simple reason that no country in the world wants to shelter a criminal. Therefore, depending on its content, a criminal record will have significant importance in the process of getting a Brazilian visa.
Therefore, a criminal record certificate will be required to check if a foreigner has served or still has to serve a sentence in their country of origin. The document must be issued by the competent authority from the country/state/city police where the foreigner lived for the last 12 months, registered by a Brazilian consulate abroad, and then translated into Portuguese. Also, the original signed version by the city police administration is needed.
Normally, only crimes that were brought before a court will appear on the criminal record, which excludes police reports.
I have criminal records, now what?
Having a criminal record does not mean that you cannot apply for a visa in Brazil but, as the process of getting a visa is analysed case by case, it is difficult to forecast if a criminal record will invalidate your request for legal permission to stay in the country.
This does not cover the cases where people who did not serve their sentences and are trying to get a visa in Brazil. These people are either illegal immigrants and fugitives, so it is more than obvious that they cannot even apply for a visa. However, if a foreigner who violated the law in their country of origin and have already served their sentence there, then they have a clear criminal record, meaning that nothing should prevent them from getting their Brazilian visa.
What will determine if a criminal record will be taken into consideration is, of course, the seriousness of the offense committed. There are criminal offenses and criminal offenses. And particularly, in Brazil, the distinction between a felony and less severe crimes is kind of nonsensical in some cases. That is because the country’s Criminal Code dates back to 1940 and urges some revision, which is currently in discussion.
First, it is necessary to clear up the different categories of breaking the law, according to the Brazilian constitution. The introduction of the Criminal Code provides a great difference between:
- Crime: Defined as a violation of the law that culminates in a penalty of confinement or imprisonment. Some examples are carrying weapons, robbery, murder, fraud and drug trafficking
- Misdemeanor: Defined as a violation of the law designated as a lesser crime, punished with simple detention and a fine. Some examples are drunkenness, vandalism, juvenile delinquency, street fighting, slander, abuse, disturbance of the peace, persecution, threatening behaviour or in other ways violating third-party rights, refusal to submit documents to the authorities, playing games of chance and disobedience to authorities etc
As misdemeanors are criminal offenses that present no potential damage to society, criminal records of this kind will not interfere in the process of getting a visa in Brazil whatsoever if the person has already served their sentence.
When it comes to severe crimes, the situation gets complicated. Let us consider a person that committed a crime and already served their sentence abroad. As stated above, nothing should get in the way of an individual if they wants to get a visa in Brazil, because they have served their sentence.
However, some crimes appearing on a criminal record will be difficult or even make the process of getting certain kinds of visas in Brazil impossible. Normally, these are crimes that allow the country to expatriate the foreigner, such as rape, homicide, drug trafficking, smuggling etc. Good conduct in the past is a legal parameter to decide if the visa will be granted to the applicant.
If the person has already completed their sentence, the best alternative is to seek for expungement or apply for pardon in their country of origin, as an attempt to erase their criminal record. This is because a criminal record will not only cause problems with the visa application, but also with finding a job, issuing other documents in the country etc. Each country will have its limitations and policies for expungements and pardons.
It is important to note that if the person is on parole, it is international understanding that this person is restricted from everything, including applying for a visa, even though they have permission to remain free.
Requesting a Brazilian Criminal Record Certificate
If you have an RNE, you can obtain a Brazilian Criminal Record Certificate online directly on the Department of Federal Police website, clicking on "Antecedentes Criminais" (on the left menu), and then "Emissão".
If the Criminal Record Certificate cannot be issued through the internet, the only alternative is to obtain it in Brazil, in person, by giving someone the power of attorney to represent you at a state Federal Police Department, also known as Departamento da Polícia Federal.
Certificates issued by the State authorities are valid throughout Brazil. A certificate issued in São Paulo, SP, for example, is valid in every state of Brazil.
Only people with citizenship in Brazil can issue a Brazilian criminal records certificate.