• Local Hires May be Temporarily Unable to Extend Two-Year Employment Visas
  • November 21, 2011
  • Law Firm: Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen Loewy LLP - New York Office
  • Foreign nationals working in Brazil under local employment contracts may be unable to renew their temporary employment visas, following a decision by the Ministry of Justice to stop approving extensions for these workers in favor of requiring them to apply for permanent visas.

    The full impact of this decision remains unclear because the Ministry of Labor also has jurisdiction over temporary employment visa extensions, and it has not officially stated whether it agrees with the Ministry of Justice's position. The two ministries are scheduled to meet on November 23, when they are expected to formalize any regulatory changes affecting temporary employment visas. Until new rules are finalized, foreign workers affected by the change may request an interim extension to avoid falling out of lawful status.

    Generally, foreign nationals working temporarily in Brazil under a local employment contract must apply for a two-year extension before their initial two-year visa expires, after which they may apply for a permanent visa if they wish to remain in Brazil. Foreign nationals generally wait to apply for the permanent visa until they have exhausted available extensions of a temporary visa because the permanent visa application process is lengthy and cumbersome.

    What This Decision Means for Employers

    The Ministry of Justice’s decision is intended to protect employee rights, as it favors the indefinite employment contracts required for permanent visas over limited duration contracts. If the Ministry of Labor agrees with the Ministry of Justice's position, employers may in the future be required to offer indefinite employment contracts for both initial temporary visa applications and permanent visa applications.

    Though the full impact of the Ministry of Justice’s decision remains unclear, it will certainly lead to near-term processing delays for extension applications, with further changes expected in the coming months.