Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Brasileirando Bureaucracy

As an American, I have always needed a visa to go to Brazil, be it for tourism or to study. Brazil is interesting in its immigration policies, taking a clear reciprocity stance to the requirements the US makes of Brazilian citizens. I have been through the process multiple times since age 15, so I'm pretty used to the runaround.

Today, however, I had a new view of the Brazilian immigration policy. Since I changed my name when Rico and I got married, and my visa to Brazil was in my maiden name, I had to get a new one issued with my new name in preparation for our trip to Rio and São Paulo in March.

The visa I am applying for is a standard tourist visa (the one for residency that comes with marrying a Brazilian citizen we will deal with later down the line). It is the same visa that the majority of the non-Brazilians who attended our wedding in July had to get, including my American family and friends.

When applying from the US, the requirements are essentially:
- fill out a bunch of standardized forms
- present passport photos
- provide copy of issued round-trip ticket to Brazil
- provide address of stay in Brazil
- pay fees

When applying from Mozambique, however, it is a much more complicated process. In addition to the standard steps above, one must also:
- provide bank statements from the past 3 months
- provide a letter from one's employer stating that the trip to Brazil is necessary, and detailing the itinerary - even for a tourist visa!
- provide proof of financing for entire stay in Brazil (a letter from family members guaranteeing support is not sufficient)
- provide copy of Mozambican work permit and residency visa (if a foreigner)
- provide copy of marriage certificate if married to a Brazilian

Interesting, no? There is obviously a big difference in how the Brazilians perceive American visitors (or those dealing with their immigration documents via the US) and Mozambican visitors. Brazil is definitely not the exception to the rule in this process - it is standard issue to make all Mozambicans (and other "poor" country citizens/residents) prove that they will not move to a "developed" destination indefinitely and become a strain on the system.

I wonder if the current state of the US economy will provoke a policy change at some point? Heh.

A funny anecdote from our visit to the Embassy this morning: the consular officer told us, "Put together as much paperwork as you possibly can. Get everything on this list and then a little more. Add in your US bank account statements. Give copies of Ricardo's passport. Essa burocracia de sistema português é um inferno...mas quanto mais papel, melhor. Os caras gostam de ver um processo bem grande.


NOLAGringa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alexandra said...

~NOLAGringa - It is a bit crazy, but it is the reality for so many people trying to travel. It was a pain for me to get all of the required documents/proof together, so I can only imagine how it must be for someone who doesn't have cash in a bank account, constant access to a computer, and a knowledge of how this whole travel system works.

Still, you have to hand it to the Brazilians...at least they dole out the bureaucracy evenly, and everyone applying for a visa via the embassy in Moz has to meet the same requirements, regardless of nationality.

Alexandra said...

Oops, that comment below was from me, ali la loca...accidentally used my other gmail account.