Living in Brazil – Different Visa Options for 2020
Moving to Brazil was one of the best decisions i’ve ever made in my life. Amazing People, Incredible Beaches and extremely rich and interesting culture make it a truly unique and special place. Despite its draw, moving here is no walk in the park, and is one that requires determination, resourcefulness and a willingness to take risks.
One of the biggest obstacles of moving to brazil is Visas. As a naive gringo back in 2016, getting a visa to live here was something that barely crossed my mind. I thought that I could just turn up and a visa would fall into my lap without having to put in any effort, which unfortunately was out of touch with reality. However, with a bit of determination, anything is possible. Here are your options when it comes to visas:
Living in Brazil – Limitations of Tourist Visa Brazil
Getting a Tourist Visa for Brazil is relatively simple. Citizens of several countries don’t need a visa to come to Brazil as a tourist (this article by tripsavvy explains in more detail) and just need to rock up at the airport, answer a few basic questions (if any), and get your passport stamped. For those of you from countries just as USA and Australia, the process could only be done in a Brazilian Embassy, but since the beginning of 2018 the process can be done online for a Brazil e-visa ( This article by Vaya Travel explains in perfect detail.)
People who have spent long periods in South America may be used to what is called going for a “visa run”, which allows you to leave a country, spend a few hours or days in another one, and then come back to the original country and get an extra 3 months for a Visa. In countries such as Argentina, Uruguay and Chile, this is possible, and foreigners have even reported success of hopping to and fro countries and getting their visa renewed every 3 months over a span of years.
However, this is not the case in Brazil, which allows each person to spend 90 days in Brazil per 180 day period (started upon first entry date), meaning that after spending 90 days in the country, you have to leave, spend 90 days outside and then come back in. Some nationalities are lucky (including us from the UK) as we’re able to extend our visa to 180 days by going to the local Policia Federal (this post goes over the requirements), but after that have to spend another 185 days outside of the countries before coming back in. This was a mistake that I foolishly made after leaving Brazil a few days after my visa expired and being stuck in Argentina for 6 months. Hopefully, you’ll learn from my mistakes.
Student Visa Brazil
Going for a Student Visa seems like a sensible, feasible and easy solution when moving to brazil, but the reality is that it’s not that simple. Stock up on the Ibuprofen as you’ll be in for plenty of headaches if you go down this route (although it could be worth it.) There are universities all over Brazil that will allow you to get apply for a Student Visa, but there are some specific requirements that need following in order for you enrollment letter to be accepted. Here is a list of some of the Brazil Student Visa Requirements:
15 Hours per Week Course – A Brazilian Consulate will only allow grant you a Student Visa if you can prove that the course is over 15 hours per week. (Something i didn’t take notice of and paid the price for.) However, some foreigners have reported success with a course with less than 15 hours, but that’s a risk that’s up to you to take.
MEC – The university you apply to has to be recognised by the MEC (ministry of education).
IMPORTANT: Visa Limitations – When you hear that you’re able to get a student visa from any 15 hour minimum course offered by a MEC recognised university, getting a student visa seems like a walk in the park. However, as you’re in Brazil, things aren’t that simple.
It turns out that several universities only accept applications from students who already have a proper visa already (tourist visa not counting,) meaning that you’re unable to enroll, get the acceptance letter that’s ultimately needed to apply for the visa. It’s catch 22 in many cases, as you can’t apply for the visa without the acceptance letter, but also can’t apply to the university without already having a visa. Welcome to Brazil.
Luckily, there are certain universities that will help you out with the visa – so keep your options open and stay persistent.
Another Idea is to Study at a Language Center in and study Portuguese. There are several schools in Rio, São Paulo and Belo Horizonte that may be able to help you out if you’re interested in studying Portuguese in an academic environment and are thinking of moving to Brazil. However, you’ll likely only be able to get a visa for a few months and then have to either extend the student visa (will be writing a post that goes into this in more detail) meaning that it may not be the most cost-friendly option.
Prices of Student Visas depend on your nationality, so it’s best to check embassies before to see how much a visa will set you back.
See Part 2 for further options of visas when moving to brazil.