There are only a few options that are available for foreigners who want to stay inside the country legally. The option that I find most appealing is the student visa for its relative ease, low cost and speed of attaining, and it allows you to enter and exit as you wish without limits.
My friend Ethan Zinho who works online at Real Life English recently got his student visa and he was nice enough to share his experience with us. I’ll let him take it from here:
How to Get a Brazilian Student Visa
If you enroll in an educational institution that is registered with the Ministry of Education in Brazil you can apply for a student visa. I already have my degree so I just enrolled in a Portuguese for foreigners class at the Federal University of Minas Gerais. It helps greatly if you know someone trustworthy in Brazil, because there are several steps that have to be taken to get you enrolled. If my friend in Brazil wasn’t helping me I would have had to enter Brazil a tourist visa, enroll by myself, fly back to the United States with my enrollment letter, apply for my student visa and then finally reenter Brazil under my student visa.
The steps that need to be taken to get your visa:
- Have a valid passport not expiring within 6 months.
- Pay for your classes. At the time of writing they are R$565, and you can find more information on the Portuguese for foreigners website. I transferred money to her, which was a mistake because I was charged a $50 transfer fee and she was charged to receive it. It would have been better if she loaned me the money and I paid her back when I got there.
- Get an official enrollment letter from the University, which needs to be certified and then notarized. This took me almost three weeks, so plan your time accordingly. I got my visa less than a week before leaving. Don’t put yourself through this stress; keep your flight days flexible.
- Get a passport sized photo for your visa.
- Make a copy of your driver’s license as proof of residency.
- Get is a background check showing no criminal record from the local police. I got mine from the state of Colorado, the process could be done online. I also requested to have mine notarized. I’m not sure how it works in other states. This took about a week to get, so plan accordingly.
- You also need financial capability to pay for your stay in Brazil. The consulate does not state how much savings they consider “financially capable” (Editor’s note: $1,000 a month should be enough), so I had my dad write out a letter stating that he would take responsibility for me while I am here, just to be safe. If you get someone to take responsibility for you then you need a few things: a notarized letter stating financial responsibility, a notarized official bank statement , and your birth certificate to show that you are related to the sponsor.
- You need to send proof of departure. This means you have to buy your ticket before you’re even sure if you’ll get the visa.
- Make sure you fill out the visa request form on the consulate’s website and print it out (attach your photo to this and sign it). It has to be done within a month of your appointment with the consulate, so do this last.
- Once you have ALL these things, you are ready to apply for your visa. You can make an appointment online to go to the consulate if it is in your city, otherwise it’s much faster and cheaper to use a company that goes for you. I chose BCV in Houston, which offers competitive rates and speedy delivery. You may have to find another service if your consulate is in a different city. A list of visa services recognized by the consulate is available on their website, so make sure to use one of these. BCV charged me $59 for their service, which is much cheaper than a plane ticket and a hotel room for several days. Hopefully you don’t spend much more than that. They required me to fill out an order form, so if something like that is required don’t forget it.
It took BCV exactly one week to get me my visa and I was all ready to head to Brazil! I hope this article has been useful for you, please leave me a comment if you have any other questions or are in need of more help. Have a great trip!