Expats Working in Brazil

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: June 2014

Brazil constitutes the ‘B’ in the recently coined ‘BRIC’ acronym; along with Russia, India and China, it has been earmarked as a country with a greatly expanding economy and huge potential for further development. Indeed, Brazil has recently overtaken China as the country in the world that receives the most foreign investment. Recently, the government has also been investing, in the country’s infrastructure and people. This partly explains why GDP growth has been rather modest of late; growth was at 1.9% for the first quarter of 2014.

The unemployment rate in Brazil is just under 5%, which is considerably lower than the world average of 8%. There are job opportunities in many areas, especially engineering, finance and management, though competition is fierce and many positions are filled via secondments rather than from outside the company. In the short term, it may be worth considering taking one of the many hospitality, catering or English teaching positions that are available.

This page outlines the visa and work permit applications and other formalities you normally need to go through before you are permitted to work in Brazil. Other work-related topics are in the Employment and Business section.

Before you can gain permission to work in Brazil, you will need to have obtained both a work permit and a residence visa. The first stage of obtaining a work permit is to gain an offer for permanent employment. You will also have to demonstrate that you have skills that natives do not have, and that no Brazilian citizen could do the job in your place.

Next, you must present to your prospective employer all the documents they need in order to submit your work permit application. These documents typically include your employment contract, CV, education certificates, documents proving your work experience and a certified copy of your passport. For a more comprehensive list, see this webpage:


Gaining these documents is likely to take some time and patience, and may not be possible in some circumstances. Once you have gathered these documents, all those that are not in Portuguese must be accompanied by certified translations. Then, once the Ministry for Labour has approved these documents, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will notify your local embassy or consulate that they are permitted to start issuing the work visa.

The procedure for obtaining a work visa is less involved. You need to provide your passport at your local consulate, fill in two application forms, supply two passport photos and a recent police report (no older than three months) that you have a clean criminal record. There are different types of work visa depending on the job you be doing and whether the position is temporary or permanent.

A temporary work visa enables you to work in the job you originally gained for an initial period of two years. You are not permitted to change this job without Ministry permission. After the two years, you can apply for a two-year extension, provided you do so 30 days before your visa’s expiry date. Just before the two-year extension lapses, you can apply for a permanent work visa.

A permanent work visa can also be issued to foreigners still in their home country in certain circumstances. See ‘Settlement, Residence and Citizenship’ for more information on this.