General Amnesty for Foreigners in Brazil

The (Brazilian) Federal government is preparing a proposal for amnesty for close to fifty-thousand foreigners that live illegally in the country. The Executive Secretary of the Ministry of Justice, Luiz Paulo Barreto, affirmed this Tuesday that the objective is to legalize the situation of this group of people and to obtain as a counterpart, the same reaction from the countries that harbor Brazilian immigrants.


“O governo federal prepara uma proposta para anistiar cerca de 50 mil estrangeiros que vivem ilegalmente no país. O secretário-executivo do Ministério da Justiça, Luiz Paulo Barreto, afirmou nesta terça-feira que o objetivo é legalizar a situação dessas pessoas e obter como contrapartida a mesma reação dos países que abrigam os imigrantes brasileiros.”


My Take

What the article fails to address is whether this amnesty will actually happen, how the process will be, is it only on a reciprocal basis and for how long will the doors be open to this opportunity. In the meantime, I will attempt to look further into the issue to see if I can dig up some more details.


53 thoughts on “General Amnesty for Foreigners in Brazil

  1. Not much as far as further news.

    I did, however, find two laws coming into effect. One deals with work visas for those coming to Brazil, in which obtaining one will become easier. That law is called ‘Resolução Normativa nº 80’.

    The second, is a name for the legalization of illegals in Brazil, which from what I gather, is/will be called Lei de Estrangeiro ( The only issue with the idea of legalization, is it seems to have been up for discussion since 2004, according to the link (in Portuguese) I added here.

    From what I understand so far, the legalization is for illegal workers to become legal. As for tourists overstaying their visas, I’m not sure. I wish more information was available on this issue. I’ll keep an eye out for more.

  2. please
    I want to know what is going to be the fate of ilegal Foreigners in Brazil
    in the year 2009 and how the fedral government is planing to help them because they have being the victim of fraud for the people they work for due to the fat they do not have document and are illegal. it will be a tremedous thing if the fedral government come to their aid for help. one other important point is that most of them who have professional jobs like doctor , engineers, layers and others who have minor jos are crane operators , truck drivers fashion designers .e.t.c

  3. How can I find out more information regarding the proposed immigration amnesty? I am legally married to a Brazilian but now no longer living with her. My passport is up to date but my visa has long since expired. Since I am not living with my spouse at the moment I am unable to apply for a permanent visa. What can I do?

    • Hello William,

      It seems the amnesty will either not happen or be delayed for an unspecified amount of time. I haven’t spoken with any authorities on the matter but I have talked with both Brazilians and Americans in Brazil and it doesn’t seem to be a likely thing in their minds. There is a 5 year rule for securing residency but I’m not sure how it works exactly, I just know you’d have to have been living in Brazil consecutively for 5 years.

  4. Hello tudobeleza,
    I stumbled across your blog by accident. I found it strange that you have several people in the comments here as well as yourself that ask others about what is happening when the information given by the news reports is all you need for some key words to go a search in Google. You mentioned that you talked to Brazilians and Americans (all equally uninformed ?)

    The author of the project is Deputado William Woo. DO a search and voila:

    the project was sent to the Senate, which amended the cutoff date, and then sent back to the Camara for this date change to be approved. It is now waiting to be signed into law by Lula. You can follow what is being done up to date with this link:

    • Good that you located information on the subject. I’m sure it will be useful for some of my readers. I did my searches and as previously mentioned, talked to several people who have heard of the bill and no one knew much aside from the basics.

      Anyways, interesting that the gentleman who left the last comment wanting to know more info has virtually the same name as the Deputado behind the project.

  5. update from the 16th:
    16/4/2009 – Às Comissões de Relações Exteriores e de Defesa Nacional e Constituição e Justiça e de Cidadania (Mérito e Art. 54, RICD) Proposição Sujeita à Apreciação do Plenário Regime de Tramitação: Urgência art. 155 RICD

  6. 16/4/2009 Mesa Diretora da Câmara dos Deputados (MESA)
    Às Comissões de Relações Exteriores e de Defesa Nacional e Constituição e Justiça e de Cidadania (Mérito e Art. 54, RICD) Proposição Sujeita à Apreciação do Plenário Regime de Tramitação: Urgência art. 155 RICD Clique para obter a íntegra

    Encaminhada à publicação. Publicação Inicial no DCD de 18/04/2009, Letra C.

  7. 22/4/2009 PLENÁRIO (PLEN)
    Discussão em turno único (Sessão Ordinária – 14:00).
    22/4/2009 PLENÁRIO (PLEN)
    Matéria não apreciada em face da não conclusão da apreciação da MPV 456/09, item 02 da pauta, com prazo encerrado.

  8. The chamber of Deputees have approved the law! The last step is to have the Senate approve it too, without making any changes to it, which could take several months. If they approve it, the president has to sign and that’s it!

  9. Pingback: General Amnesty for foreigners – Update « Eyes On Brazil

  10. i think amnesty should be done because most foreigner has their own personer skills and they are ready to work here if they have document, i could say most foreigner have no place to live ot something to eat, and have no passport, visa [illegal], so i think if the amnesty is done, foreigner will not be include in crimes.

  11. The project was approved last Thursday, June 4, 2009. Apparently, the next step is President Lula signing it into law.

    According to the text of the project, anyone who entered Brazil before February 1st, 2009 and is currently in an irregular/illegal status can apply for a temporary resident status valid for 2 years. Once the temporary residency is granted, one can use the two-year period to request permanent residency.

    The applicants will need to present documents proving their personal identification, date of entry, and a clean criminal record from their countries of origin. The links provided by “fluidrocker”, above, are the best source to keep an eye on the status of the project/law, as well to read its full text.

    The regular media channels gave little exposure to the approval of the law last Thursday, but I’m pretty sure they’ll publish something as soon as Lula signs it. He’s been talking about this law in some international events, so he’ll want some publicity about it.

    So, let’s hope he signs this sooner rather than later… and good luck to all of us!

    Take care,


  12. O presidente Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva sancionou, na tarde desta quinta-feira, o Projeto de Lei 1.664-D, de 2007, a chamada Lei da Anistia Migratória, que autoriza a residência provisória de cidadãos estrangeiros em situação irregular no Brasil.

    A nova lei permite que todos os estrangeiros que estejam em situação irregular e tenham entrado no Brasil até o dia 1º de fevereiro deste ano regularizem sua situação e tenham liberdade de circulação, direito de trabalhar, acesso à saúde e educação públicas e à Justiça.

    A medida alcança pessoas que tenham entrado irregularmente no Brasil, cujo prazo do visto de entrada tenha vencido ou que não tenha se beneficiado da última Lei de Anistia Imigratória, de 1998.

    Pelos cálculos do Ministério da Justiça, em torno de 50 mil pessoas poderão ser beneficiadas. Há, no entanto, entidades internacionais que estimam em até 200 mil o número de estrangeiros em situação irregular no Brasil.

    Os interessados poderão fazer o pedido de regularização até o final do ano (a data provável é 30 de dezembro). Isso depois que o Diário Oficial da União publicar a portaria do Ministério da Justiça normalizando os procedimentos previsto na lei. A taxa de regularização é de R$ 67 e a de expedição da carteira, de R$ 31.

    A medida, para o secretário nacional de Justiça, Romeu Tuma Júnior, “humaniza a questão migratória” e combate o tráfico de pessoas que entram no Brasil e são empregadas em trabalhos análogos à escravidão. É o que ocorre, por exemplo, com os trabalhadores bolivianos contratados informalmente por empresas de confecção em São Paulo.

    O secretário disse que, além dos bolivianos, os chineses, paraguaios, peruanos e russos estão entre os principais grupos populacionais que a nova legislação poderá beneficiar.

    Atualmente há cerca de 880 mil estrangeiros vivendo regularmente no Brasil, a maioria deles vinda de Portugal, do Japão, da Itália e da Espanha. O governo estima que, hoje, aproximadamente 4 milhões de brasileiros vivam no exterior. Tuma Júnior disse esperar que a iniciativa brasileira “sensibilize e gere reciprocidade” em outros países. “Os países estão criminalizando, e o Brasil, humanizando”, comparou.

    Além de sancionar a Lei da Anistia Migratória, o presidente Lula deve assinar hoje mensagem ao Congresso Nacional enviando projeto para uma nova Lei de Estrangeiros.

    O secretário informou ainda que os brasileiros que queiram emitir certidão negativa de naturalização de seus parentes ascendentes, para pedir cidadania nos países de origem da família, poderão usar o serviço de certidão eletrônica disponível no site do Ministério da Justiça (

      • Katz22,

        What do you think about this? I left Brasil on December 24, 2008 and returned on March 11, 2009. I’m not holding you to anything but do you believe that this law benefits me? I am well past my “legal” tourist limit of 180 days.


      • While waiting for Katz to reply, I’ll say I think you’re out of luck…or rather, in the same boat at I am. If there was a post-Feb. 2009 loophole, I’d jump through it too.

  13. Thanks for the warm welcome. You’ve helped me more than I think you know. My case is very weird, so I needed to know the specifics of the law.

    the last of the three links that you gave me is the one that decrees the federal police as the executive body? I’m having some trouble understanding what the purpose of that document is. The page that it’s on is talking about a public work.

    • Hello, Andrew

      Yes, the last of the three links point to Portaria 2231, or rather to page 30, section 1, of the federal official newspaper for July 6th. The page has other unrelated stuff on it, the specific part you want is on the lower right corner of the page.

      As far as I know, in regular situations the Ministry of Justice (in Brasilia) would be the one dealing with residence requests. However, since they expect to have tens of thousands of people applying for this amnesty, they apparently decided to simplify and decentralize the process – hence the Portaria 2231 saying you should present your request at the Policia Federal office that is closer to where you live. Only special or complex cases will be dealt with by the National Secretary of Justice.

      Good luck, and I hope your case goes through without a glitch! :)


  14. Hello, Stephen

    For some reason, your comment doesn’t have a “reply” link, so this will be a little out of the thread, but… here we go.

    I’m not an attorney, just an interested party too. My boyfriend is an american citizen who has been living here with me for a couple years now. We never intended for him to be here irregularly in the first place, but his divorce in U.S. took too long for us to marry during his legal stay. Being apart is not an option for us, so now is our chance to fix up his status and get married.

    That said, if I were in your shoes I would see a lawyer about it, as you may have a case if you can prove you were actually living here for a while and had to travel abroad temporarily to visit relatives or something like that.

    Besides, if you came back in March 11, you’re still counting a little over 120 days since your last entry… I don’t know for how long you were living here before, but a lawyer may be able to get you an extension for another 60 days, and during that extra time you could find other ways to get legalized.

    Anyway, I wish you the best of luck. It’s pretty unfair that capital and resources can get across borders so much easier than people.



    • Hey Katz,

      Do you know of any good attorney’s in Rio. Policia Federal is a pain in the butt to deal with. Thanks in advance.

    • Well, there’s always the 5-year law which apparently says if you live in Brazil for 5 years, you are given residency…although I’m sure this “law” is more complicated than that and involves a formal route to residency.

  15. My situation is rather complex, and I would appreciate some advice before I decide to pay for a lawyer or go to the Federal Police.

    I have entered brazil many, many, times before Feb. 2009, but wasn’t officially illegal until just a few days ago. I entered the country last winter (july) and then again “clandestinely” by ship during the summer months. Then I left brazil by ship again, and then returned by plane. I did not get a stamp on my passport when I entered the country by ship. So my passport says that I was here last July, then again in March. 2 questions

    1) Would i have had to stay in brazil *continuously* since before february 2009?
    2) Do I have to prove that I entered the country “clandestinely” in order for it to count toward me receiving amnesty?

    thanks in advance

    • Hi, Andrew

      Your situation seems tricky indeed. I am not a lawyer and I might be mistaken, but if you cannot prove that you entered the country before February 2009 and stayed here, this amnesty probably won’t apply to you.

      Your last entry stamp is from March 2009, and that’s probably what they’re going to consider. On the other hand, you say there’s no exit recorded on your passport… perhaps a lawyer can find some loophole based on that.

      Best of luck


  16. Please i need some help ,I am here in brazil for 5 months now and need some help.I would love to get legal here in brazil but dont know where to go or who to ask for help .I know getting married is easy but ,i want another option ………….please i need more information ………..if i can get legalized here with a tourist visa ……..or if there is another way ……..anyway lawyers that can help me out.THANK YOI

  17. Hi all! I would appreciate advice re. my case below. I have arrived to Brazil before 1 Feb 2009 and I have valid business visa till May 2010. I would like to stay longer and get permanent residency. At the moment I dont have job contract to stay longer then May. How I can remain in Brazil? Any expectation when next amnesty wil be? Please advice any lawer that specialized in immigration. Is it too late to apply for amnesty right now?

    • Hi Dani,

      If you arrived before Feb 1st but on a valid business visa then you wouldn’t have qualified for the amnesty because that is for people who were illegally in the country before Feb. 1st. If there is another amnesty, I wouldn’t hold your breath for it as it will probably be in 10 years. As of Dec 30th, 2009 it is too late to apply for amnesty. Sorry.

  18. didn;t they have an amnesty in 2006 also?

    I have friend that got it and it also had a cut off date of when you should be in the country illegal. I was illegal at this time but went to foz de iguazu by plane and they checked my visa’s there and there was a federal officer there that gave me a 7 days to leave the country stamp. I left after 16 months in the country. I later found out that time there was this amnisty but not till i got home.

    I didn;t think they were going to have another one for almost ten years assuming the last one before 2006, I heard was in 1999 or something like that.

    Does anyone have any info on past ones and if there will be other ones in the future?

    I live in Paris now for two years and love it but would trade it for Brazil any day!

  19. I have been living in Brazil now for 12 years on a tourist visa. My mistake was to return to the States to work and later return to Brazil after Feb 2009. Now i’m living in Brazil again on a Tourist Visa and the visa now has expired but my U.S. passport is still good. I would like to get a permanent Visa to live and work. I’m teaching english to support myself and would like to become legal in Brazil. Is there any chance the Brazilian Government will pass another Amnesty for foreigners in Brazil?



    • Hi Joe,

      Historically, Brazil gives amnesty to foreigners illegally living in the country every 10 years. There was one in 1988, 1998 and of course in 2009, which I believe was to have occured in 2008 but got delayed. The next one will probably be a few years post-Olympics 2016, when I’d guess many more foreigners will attempt to fall into the category of receiving amnesty.

  20. Hi, I am an American living in Brasil with my future wife. We are getting married this month. How long after that can i have temporal visa that will allow me travel in and out of the country? At the present time i have a tourist visa but i have over stayed the grace period of 6 months.
    Thank you!

  21. Oi, eu me casei com uma brasileira o ano passado,mas eu fiquei ilegal no pais um mes antes do meu casamento, já tenho certidao de casamento, a minha pergunta é… tenho que pagar alguma coisa pra tirar meu documento de permanencia? ou posso ter o documento de permanença só pressentando minha certidao de casamento?

  22. Hey… i don’t know if anyone even checks this page anymore, but this is my question – i had overstayed my visa for quite a while – and i would have been eligible for this amnesty had i been in Brazil. Unfortunately, i left at the end of May… just a month or so before it was passed. Is there any ‘jeitinho’ to still qualify..? I realize that the cut off date is long gone, but still…

    And what are the odds of another amnesty, before 2018, given the pre-Cup / Olympics hype and demand for foreign workers..?

    • From what I understand, it’s not possible to get around the amnesty thing from 2009. I was in Brazil around that time, too, but not illegally. Looks like amnesties here happen about once every 10 years so the next one wouldn’t happen until 2018 or later.

      • Thanks for the response!

        That’s kind of what i figured… was just being optimistic. The trend is every 10 years for an amnesty, yes – but with the upcoming mega-events… maybe sooner..? Or at least loosening visa restrictions..? (Or perhaps, the opposite – since Brazil is currently in fashion and everyone wants to come here now).

  23. Amnesty, what a crock. I’m beginning to think this was just an elaborate hoax to trick foreigners into coming out from hiding and identify themselves to the Federal Police for eventual deportation when the process bogs down and amnesty is denied without explanation. Despite providing all the necessary documentation, paying all the fees and trying to meet all their senseless demands for the past THREE YEARS, I’m no closer to the end of this nightmare than I was in the beginning. It’s no wonder there are so many illegal immigrants in this country, because they make it virtually impossible to migrate here legally. Unless of course you happen to be a convicted Italian murderer and terrorist, Cesare Battisti sentenced to life in prison. He came here with a counterfeit passport. Then you get welcomed with open arms and still gets the red carpet treatment.

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