December 13, 2012

The Brazilian Government has recently announced that citizens of Colombia and their qualified dependents may apply for Brazilian work and residence authorization based on citizenship in a MERCOSUR-member country. MERCOSUR nationals enjoy the privilege of applying for unrestricted Brazilian work authorization by applying directly to a local Federal Police office versus applying for pre-approval from the Brazilian Ministry of Labor.

What is MERCOSUR?

MERCOSUR (Portuguese-“MERCOSUL”), also known as the Southern Common Market, is a regional trade agreement amongst several Latin American countries. The current member countries (Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Venezuela) and associate-member countries (Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru) participate to varying degrees in promoting the free movement of goods, services and persons throughout the region. Since June 2012, Paraguay is considered to be a member country in suspended status.

Brazilian immigration law offers temporary residence permission without the need for applying for prior work authorization to qualified citizens of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay and their accompanying dependents.

Colombians Now Eligible for MERCOSUR Status in Brazil

Qualified applicants from Colombia are Colombian nationals, foreign nationals who are naturalized Colombian citizens of more than five years and family dependents (e.g., spouse and minor children) of a Colombian citizen.

MERCSOUR RNE applicants will be required to submit documentation such as proof of Colombian nationality/citizenship (e.g., Colombian birth certificate or valid Colombian passport), Colombian police records, Brazilian entry/exit card, valid marriage and birth certificates legalized by a Brazilian consular post on behalf of accompanying spouse and children and certain Brazilian declarations at the time of registration.

Appointments with the Federal Police must be made in advance. Generally, MERCOSUR applications are accepted for processing on the date of appointment and an official “Protocolo” receipt will be issued to successful applicants. For those applicants choosing to apply at a Brazilian consular post, registration for the RNE must be made with the local Federal Police within 30 days of arrival in Brazil. Please note that, depending on the Federal Police office processing the application, receipt of the actual RNE card may take several months.

Once the “Protocolo” is issued, MERCOSUR citizens will be granted a two-year temporary residence status with unrestricted ability to work for any Brazilian employer. After two years of valid, continuous residence, MERCOSUR citizens may apply for Brazilian permanent residence no later than two months prior to expiration of temporary residence status.

ACTION ITEMS FOR EMPLOYERS

Companies considering long-term assignments, including those with possibility of permanent employment, may wish to consider application for MERCOSUR status for qualified employees. It is worth noting that companies that do obtain MERCOSUR status for assignees to Brazil will be obtaining an immigration status based on the employee’s citizenship/nationality and not tied to a specific Brazilian employer.

Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader

This is provided as informational only and does not substitute for actual legal advice based on the specific circumstances of a matter. Readers are reminded that Immigration laws are fluid and can change a moment’s notice without any warning. Please reach out to your local Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist should you require any additional clarification. This alert was prepared by Glenn Faulk, Senior Manager, Knowledge Management.