This article will help you to understand the procedure for obtaining the investor visa in Brazil and be a legal resident. We spoke to an American entrepreneur who has obtained this type of visa and gave us some useful tips.
It is not uncommon to see tourists spending their vacations in Brazil wanting to stay for good. If that is your case, you have the option to start a business in the country or to invest in a local company in order to assure your legal residence and attachment to the country. As many countries, the Brazilian immigration policies include a special residence visa known as “investor visa”.
The investor visa is issued to those who establish a business in the country and it is usually valid for up to five years. After five years, the investor needs to apply for an extension, and after ten years he is eligible to be a permanent resident. The investment can be done in a corporation that already exists in Brazil or can be used to settle up a new one. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 817 visas of this category were issued in 2012, mainly for Portuguese, Spanish and Italian investors.
Requirements to apply for an investor visa?
The Brazilian policies to attract foreign investors are quite inviting if compared to other countries. The only requirements for applying for a permanent investor's visa, other than being older than 18 years old, is to invest a minimum amount of BRL 150.000 in the business.
It is possible to get a concession of a permanent visa with an investment lower than what we previously mentioned, but in this case, the concept of social development will be considered, according to the following criteria:
- Amount of jobs to be created in Brazil
- Increase of productivity
- Assimilation of technology
- Fundraising for a specific sector
- It is important to say that the National Immigration Council gives preference to investments from South American investors.
The Process of Obtaining a Investor Visa to Brazil
Sam Flowers is an American entrepreneur and owner of the Gringo Café, a US-style diner located in the neighborhood of Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro.
Sam have first hand experience with the process and have already written about this experience in The Rio Times
Sam can tell us that not much have changed since he obtained his visa 5 years ago: "I obtained the investor visa in 2008. The steps were similar to those required now. Once approved, I traveled to USA to get the visa put into my passport. Then I returned to Brazil and went to the Federal police to get my temporary ID."
Timeline from A - Z
As any other immigration procedure, issuing the investor visa can take some time. In average the whole process takes about an year.
Step 1: Obtaining a CPF
Obtaining a CPF is a relatively simple procedure if you are already located in Brazil. It can also be done from abroad and in that case it will be more time consuming.
We have covered this topic to a great extent in our article CPF for Dummies
Time: 1 day
Step 2: Forming a Brazilian Company
With your CPF in hand you can go ahead forming a company like outlined in our article Company Formation for Dummies.
The catch is that the person that wants to obtain the investor visa cannot be the administrator of the company. The registered administrator of the company must be a Brazilian citizen or have a permanent visa to Brazil.
The administrator does not need to be a partner in the company but will have full power of attorney for your company in a interim period.
Time: 4 - 8 weeks
Step 3: Open a bank account
Opening a bank account should theoretically be a easy step after you received your company registration number known as CNPJ. However as Sam explain the paper work involved is significant:
"Your new company opens a local bank account. This step is more difficult than it sounds. Banks will not open accounts for foreigners so the account must be in the company name and your company administrator will need to sign for everything. There’s a lot of paperwork required and it can take a week or two for your account to be active."
Time: 1 - 2 weeks
Step 4: Make the investment
The investment can be done either in form of assets or money. Investments in form of money transfers are the most common and easies option.
Registration of Foreign Investment in Brazil is a relatively simple process but you need to pay attention to the details. Keep in mind all banking fees and other discounts to the invested amount, if your transfer is as little as BRL 5 under the required amount you will not be able to obtain the investor visa.
Time: 4 weeks
Step 5: Apply for the Visa
With the investment registered into the country you can go ahead and apply for an Investor Visa.
"The application must include a business plan, the point of which is to describe the business and indicate the number of Brazilians the company will employ." says Sam.
He continues: "After submitting an application it is common that some follow up step will be required. You may need to correct a document, redo a step that was done incorrectly, clarify something in your business plan, etc."
Time: 12 - 16 weeks
Step 6: Obtain the Visa
When the investor visa is approved you can finally move to Brazil and start working legally in the country.
What you have to do is to visit a Brazilian Embassy or Consulate to update your passport before traveling to Brazil. As soon as you arrive in Brazil, you must visit the Federal Police and they will issue the Registro Nacional de Estrangeiros, known as RNE, that is your Brazilian ID document.
Receiving the RNE typically takes 1 - 2 months but can take up to 2 years depending on where in Brazil you apply for it. However the delay will not hold you back in your work as you get a temporary document confirming that the permanent document is pending.
Time: 2 days
Step 7: Transfer the Company Administration
With the investor visa in hand you can transfer the administrative power of your company from your interim administrator to yourself.
This is done by an alternation to the Articles of Association as well as revoking the interim administrators access to your bank account.
Time: 4 - 8 weeks
Sam Flowers found the Brazilian banking system to be the largest challenge: "My greatest difficulty was opening a bank account for the company. The banks are so highly regulated that a huge amount of paperwork and protocol is required to open an account."
When we asked Sam what he considered the most important advisors during this process he were not in doubt: "The most important advisors were my accountant and the visa agent who walked the visa application through the process with the Federal Police and the Ministério do Trabalho."
Sam also try to educate other business professionals that want to start the same journey as he did. "There is great opportunity in Brazil right now in certain sectors. Foreigners come with expectations that business in Brazil functions like it does in other developed countries, but the truth is that here the pace of results is much slower and efficiency is much lower. This leads to significantly higher costs, especially during start up."