Historically immigrants helped to build Brazil. The great inflow was in the second half of the XIX century (1888 to 1929), excluding World War One, when the country received on average 100.000 immigrants per annum, mainly Italians, Portuguese, Spaniards, Germans, Middle East, Poles, Russians and Ukrainians.
They started working in the big coffee plantations and then when the industrial burst moved to manufacturing. In the 1920 and 1930, the Japanese arrived. However believing the Brazilian identity was at peril, immigration quotas were introduced.
A century ago 7.3% of the Brazilian population had been born overseas, but currently only 0.3% which is insignificant compared to the 13% of the US according to the 2010 census results. The SAE target is to reach 2%, or even 3% in the next few years, which means approximately six million immigrants.
Another factor to stimulate migratory policies has been the fall in Brazil’s fertility rate, and although still relatively young, the situation will begin to change in 2025 as the number of old age people keeps increasing as a percentage of the economically active population.
However it is not easy to reside in Brazil. To obtain a work permit in Brazil is a complex task which demands 19 different documents besides the fact there are many restrictive laws regarding foreigners working in the country.
But things should begin to change: extending work permits to members of foreign families; limiting the number of documents requested and the fact that many presentations can now be done on line.
“But the ideal would be for Congress to pass a bill creating an agency or commission with the specific purpose of promoting immigration, quality immigration” points out Paes de Barros.
For that purpose a task force that includes government agencies and universities are meeting regularly to review the migratory policy for coming decades with the focus on scarce trades, professions and specific demand for Brazil’s development such as mining and oil engineers as well as for the large infrastructure and communications projects the country has in the blueprint and are causing great bottlenecks to the economy.
In 2012 Brazil extended 73.022 work visas for foreigners but only 8.340 were permanent. Of that total 9.209 were for US residents followed by workers from the Philippines, Haiti, United Kingdom, India, Germany, China and Italy.
A pervious attempt by Brazil to attract qualified immigrants following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the nineties and the exodus of scientists from the former super power, never managed to take off.