“The oil companies generally are very demanding. They don’t approve candidates who don’t have the right profile,’’ she said.
“Since 2006, with the discovery of the pre-salt [offshore, deep-water oil finds], there was a lot of interest from the government to attract investors to Brazil,” said Mariângela Moreira, director and founder of Mundivisas, an immigration consultancy in Niteroi, a city across Guanabara Bay from Rio de Janeiro.
The government, she said, realized it needed to have clearer rules on immigration so investors would feel more secure about sinking their money into Brazil. “The interest of the Dilma government is really to update this as quickly as possible,’’ said Moreira. “I think [the government] is very much in favor of giving visas.”
Last year Brazil gave 73,022 visas to foreign workers — but just 8,340 of them were permanent visas. Still that was well ahead of the 42,914 visas granted as recently as 2009. The number of visas granted to professionals also is up dramatically since 2009.
U.S. residents received the most work visas — 9,209, followed by workers from the Philippines, Haiti, the United Kingdom, India, Germany, China and Italy.
The Ministry of Labor noted that the 4,706 visas for Haitians were humanitarian-based due to disruptions caused by the 2010 earthquake and didn’t reflect a long-term trend. Last year, thousands of Haitians who crossed the border from Peru after a complicated trip from their homeland began crowding into small towns in the Brazilian Amazon.
Despite the increasing numbers of work visas being granted, “it’s still a very small flow of people,’’ conceded Paes de Barros. “We need millions of people.’’
Taylor Barnes contributed to this story from Rio de Janeiro