As the Brazilian government attempts to remedy its worsening skills shortage in key areas such as technology, skilled foreigners interested in moving to the country face major visa headaches.
According to an article by Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo, Brazil has only granted 56,006 work visas in 2010. That compares with 586,000 visas granted in the UK, 482,052 in the US and 223,000 permits to work granted by China during the year.
The story goes on to comment that despite the growing interest from professionals, students and businesspeople in Brazil, these individuals are often put off by visa applications that often take several months to be processed.
Reasons for such drawn-out processes include lack of online automation for many procedures including the several items of documentation foreigners often have to provide and the fact that applications are forwarded to government departments in Brasilia for analysis.
In sectors such as IT, the skills gap seen in more developed nations is already a reality across the Brics as these countries seek to focus on value-added services. CIOs in Brazil are struggling to find and retain talent and have to rely on services providers instead – which comes at increasingly hefty price tags.
The skills shortage issue has now become a potential blocker for successful investments in Brazil from overseas: for example, Taiwanese tablet manufacturer Foxconn has already delayed the production of the Apple iPad in Brazil, mainly due to the scarcity of qualified manpower.
Continued investment and focus on the creation and development of technology skills in Brazil is a priority and the government has taken some small steps towards mitigating the issue around technical expertise in the medium and long term.
However, Brazil needs these skills in the short-term. Ancient labor laws, combined with arcane immigration policies, not only discourage foreign labor that could help bring dynamism and business opportunities to Brazil, but present the country as a less attractive option to its keen prospects.
IT Decisions’ own CEO, Mark Hillary, has faced one trial after another in his own quest to get fully registered as a foreigner living in Brazil – you can read the latest episode on his personal blog here. Despite Mark being married to a Brazilian and possessing post-graduate qualifications, his initial visa application required over sixty pages of paper, all just to prove his identity, and all of those pages – even the photocopies – had to be verified at a notary office.
The worst part of the entire process is the number of physical visits required to meet the federal police with various pieces of documentation. Even checking the federal police website for a checklist of what is required has failed twice – with the police staff just shrugging their shoulders at Mark’s protests that he checked what is needed on the website. The police advice is that you come to the police department once to check what is needed, then return again with the forms.
Clearly, a model of efficiency and twenty-first century police best practice. Citizens have nothing better to do than waiting at a federal police office all day…
At least Mark’s quest for an RNE should be over once his new birth certificate arrives from England – the one that has sufficed for four decades is not good enough for Brazil.
Photo by Hendrick Terbeck licensed under Creative Commons