Comparing the Visas requested at the General Consulates of Brazil in Oporto and Lisbon

Brazil’s latest general population census signalled a noteworthy increase of the Portuguese residents. Whilst in 2000 there were 143.644 Portuguese living in Brazil in 2010 the number rose to 268.486. Portugal thus made it to the list of the five principal sending countries, where it did not figure earlier.



Total Immigrants


Total Immigrants
































Source: IBGE[1] (Censo 2010:70)


Albeit research is underway to further describe and conceptualize Portuguese emigrants, it is still extremely difficult to estimate the volume of people leaving. One unsurmountable reason derives from the ease of circulation between the countries, for Portuguese do not need a visa to enter in Brazil and remain for up to 90 days. This possibility can be instrumentalized so as to enable finding a job, registering at an university or otherwise justifying the prolongation of the stay after being already in Brazillian territory. Yet, one way to explore the characteristics of the Portuguese population moving to Brazil (in terms of motivations, sociographic profile, and so on) is to explore the visas awarded by the General Consulates of Brazil in Portugal. Granted, such an investigation can only encompass people leaving Portugal and entering the Latin American country legally. As such, it does not cover neither the Portuguese migrants relocating to Brazil after having moved to another country previously nor people circulating as tourists. It constitutes therefore but a suggestive indication of the flow at stake. In our project, it complements the data provided by the Portuguese and Brazilian National statistics institutes (respectively, Instituto Nacional de Estatística and Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística) as well as other mobilities’ monitoring organizations (e.g. Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras).

The data below concern the Visas granted by the General Consulates of Brazil in Oporto (GCBO) and in Lisbon (GCBL) – the two fieldwork sites in Portugal for our project. The sample is composed of 794 visas awarded in between 2008-2012 along one month, which was randomly chosen provided the Consulate’s advice to avoid the peak of requirements related to study exchanges.

There is, upfront, a striking disparity between the total amount of visas granted in the two consulates: GCBL granted 9737 visas in between 2008 and 2012, whereas CGBO only awarded 4861.  However, the amount of visas awarded has remarkably increased in the last 5 years: 87 % in GCBL’s case and 156 % in GCBO’s case.  The most frequently awarded visas were, in both consulates, the Permanent Visa (Visto Permanente – VIPER), the Temporary Work Visa (Visto Temporário de Trabalho – VITEM V) and the Temporary Study Visa (Visto Temporário de Estudante – VITEM IV). However, it is important to note that a series of other visas are also related to work, such as the Temporary Research Visa (Visto Temporário de Pesquisador/Cultural – VITEM I), Temporary Visa for Artists and Sportsmen (Visto Temporário de Artistas e Desportistas – VITEM III), the Temporary Religious Visa (Visto Temporário Religioso – VII) or some work-related Permanent Visas (VIPER)[2]. Therefore, as the graph below illustrates, in the majority of cases, people request a visa so as to work in Brazil.


What is more, most people leave from metropolitan areas to relocate in great urban centers. The majority of visa requests are submitted by people residing in the district of Lisbon (331 visas, which corresponds to 42%), Oporto (111 visas, which corresponds to 14%) and Setúbal (85 visas, which corresponds to 11%). In turn, most people head to the states of São Paulo (316 visas, which corresponds to 40%) and of Rio de Janeiro (168 visas, which corresponds to 21%).  This means that most people move through the four research sites of our project.

In what concerns the sociographic profile, the visas indicate a working-age (25-64) masculine flow. Women are concentrated in the 15-24 age group and are more often awarded temporary study visas (VITEM IV) then men (namely, 111 were awarded these visas, as opposed to 72 men. In contrast, men largely outnumber women in granted requests for work-related visas (they have been awarded, respectively, 263 vs 67 visas). Complementarily, there are more women than men travelling as dependents of spouses granted work visas (respectively, 91 women vs 57 men). What is more, there far more men reunifying with their spouses in Brazil then women. Among them, the vast majority (87 in 90 cases) joins the Brazilian wife they married to a few years before, in Portugal.


Among the visa applicants who are employed (456, or 75%), the large majority are, according to the Portuguese National Statistics Institute,[3] highly qualified professionals (67%). The latter can be further grouped as Specialists of Intellectual and Scientific Professions (198, or 45%) and as Leaders and Senior Staff of Public Administration Offices and of Companies (108, or 24%). The remaining 33% are less qualified professional among which only 16% have intermediate qualifications: 10% (47) are Intermediate Level Technicians and Professionals, 4% (19) are Services and Sales’ Staff, and 2% (10) are Administrative Personnel.  In the smallest tier we can find Factory Workers, Craftsmen and Similar Occupations (47, or 10%), Installation and Machines’ Operators as well as  Assembly Line Workers, (23, or 5%), and, finally, with a residual presence, Farmers and Qualified Agriculture and Fisheries Workers as well as Non-Qualified Workers. In other words, most employed visa applicants (granted a work related visa or another type of visa) are highly qualified. However, less qualified professionals should not be overlooked.

Interestingly, the latter were often working-age men travelling with a permanent visa for family reunification. Whilst further research should investigate the lives of the qualified migrants (who strikingly contrast with the majority of Portuguese who moved to Brazil in the first half of the 20th century, and on whom were based the dominant representations about Portuguese in Brazil), these data suggest it is important to research the modes of incorporation of these less qualified Portuguese provided the specificity of their movement.

professional occup.jpg



[1] Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística

[2] Permanent Visas can encompass a number of situations: retirement; family reunification; investment in the country and work (when contracts exceed two years, which the maximum amount of time that temporary visas cover).

[3] The classification of professions used by the institute, which we follow, is available online at: [last accessed on March 17th, 2014].

Conference on Portuguese Emigration to Brazil

The recent journeys from Portugal to Brazil are being discussed this week, in Lisbon. The international conference “Contemporary Portuguese Emigration” (Emigração Portuguesa Contemporânea) will take place on March 12th and 13th, in ISCTE. The scientific meeting is organized by Rede Migra, a Portuguese based network of scholars researching international mobilities. More information here.

Zenith. Port of call – Portugal. Destination – Brazil.

Zenith, a 47.255 tons cruise ship, left the port of Lisbon to Recife, on December 1st 2013.The expected arrival date was December 9th, 2013. In recent times, the media has widely reported on the return of Brazilian immigrants who take advantage of the lower rates of transatlantic cruises departing from Europe to Brazil. Those particular careers run between October and December each year. Initially, these cruises carried only their crew and occasional passengers. Such Atlantic crossings are explained by the beginning of winter in Europe. With the consequent decline in tourist cruises in the northern hemisphere, ships depart for three months, at least, to the coastal tourism in Central and South America. Many carry both the aforementioned Brazilians returning to their home country and, recently, Portuguese temporary migrants who sail away.

For the project “Atlantic Crossings”, the Consulate General of Brazil in Lisbon (GCBL), like the Consulate of Brazil in Oporto, kindly made available information regarding the successful visa awarded to Portuguese intending to cross the ocean. An analysis of a sample of visas revealed that CGBL is one of most important and busy Brazilian consular services throughout the world. Having granted 9737 official entry visas over the past five years, it falls short only of Brazil’s Consulate in New York. Remarkably, this American consulate exceeds GCBL’s total number of visa requests, but works mainly via electronic mail.

visas CGBL

The analysis of 801 visas awarded in the month of December throughout 2008-2012 – random sample selection – revealed that the four main types of visas are: permanent visas, work visas, tourist visas and student visas. This sample largely corresponds to the travel visa whose justification is to work in Brazil. Work visas comprise 28% of cases (228 in absolute terms), both of permanent or temporary nature[1]. The second largest group (196 cases, corresponding to 24% of the total population) pertains to people travelling to accompany their relatives’ work visas or reunion with the family. A smaller group leaves to do research and participate in professional internships (28 cases), which raises the number of work related visas to 452 cases, thereby constituting 56% of the total.

principal visas CGBL

The Portuguese population, which we focus on, comprised 579 cases. The gender ratio revealed a masculine flow: 362 men to 217 women (63% to 37%, respectively). The most popular destinations in Brazil are the federal states of São Paulo (238 cases) and Rio de Janeiro (132 cases) – corresponding, together, to 61% of the visas – which suggests a strong workforce and academic demand of the major urban centres. After subtracting the temporary student visas (125 cases), the Portuguese population moving for work related reasons yields 454 records – among which 83% have ages comprised between 25 and 64 years old. In the group of 371 individuals the most numerous are highly qualified professionals. Technicians and those involved in scientific activities comprised 45% (169) of the records. Examining the latter showed that the dominant professional areas are: engineering; education and research; consultancy and project management. Another 22% (80) of the total include representatives of the legislative and executive bodies; managers; directors and executive managers.

In addition to revealing the qualified nature of most of the population, examining the data indicated the salience of a particular flow: maritime professionals, who leave with renewable work visas for periods of 180 days. Many work in the crews of transatlantic ships as sailors and deck officers. Others are involved in the catering industry and the tourism management sector that in many cases work on the vessels operating on the Brazilian coast. Along with the latter, other professionals work also as mechanicals, ship repairers, engineers, boatswains, able seamen, hotel managers and directors; mates, assistant’s maîtres, among others.

Back to the initial sample, we find 24% (192) of tourist visas (Portuguese don´t need to apply to enter in Brazil when going on a temporary journey, without the intent to immigrate or work, for three months). The frequent atlantics crossings are by aeroplane. However, like the Portuguese that leave to work in the cruises, tourists aboard ships like the Zenith certainly have the following justification in their visas:

“The above mentioned guest will sail on-board the Zenith from December 1st 2013, port-of-call Lisbon, Portugal until December 9th, 2013, port-of-call Recife, Brazil.”

[1] Here you can find Temporary Work Visas, specific to persons who travel to work and perform services under contract until maximum two years and Permanent Visas to persons that are already working in Brazil or apply for family reunion.


Portuguese academic literature on migratory flows between Portugal and Brazil







We have been working on a bibliographic analysis of the Portuguese academic agenda, thus far in what concerns Atlantic crossings between Brazil and Portugal. This task included an exhaustive listing of research produced in the country about migratory movements from and towards Portugal. To be specific, we reviewed, in particular, the studies analyzing Portuguese emigration to Brazil and the Brazilian immigration to Portugal.

By crisscrossing the texts listed, it became apparent that Portuguese emigration has been a structuring force in Portuguese society since the 15th century. The Atlantic crossings between Portugal and Brazil can be considered a migratory system consisting of inflows and outflows of people in both directions. Initially, Portugal was considered a sending country whilst Brazil was a receiver context. During the 1990’s these roles were thought to have reversed. Nevertheless, since the mid-2000’s both countries have been increasingly acknowledged as both points of arrival and departure.

Emigration from, and immigration to, Portugal, have been differently approached. We found more studies analyzing the latter despite the larger volume of emigration flows. On the one hand, Portuguese emigration has historically been underrepresented on academic research. This lack of studies is related with several causes, such as: the limited publishing freedom during the Estado Novo dictatorship, an underdevelopment of Portuguese Social Sciences by that time, an unavailability of reliable statistic data on emigration departs and the deceleration of these movements during the 1980’s. On the other hand, there was a boost of studies on immigration after the intense inflows of people during the 1990’s. This resulted from the fact that Portugal’s temporary role-shift from sending to receiving country was then regarded by Portuguese scholars, media and politicians as a symptom of the country’s modernization but also as a cause for several problems inside the Portuguese society and the European space. Therefor, studies were promoted in order to understand this new reality.

Among the wealth of studies about immigration in Portugal, the Brazilian population has been the most studied by the national academy. This probably resulted from their constant and intense inflow to Portugal through out the years that gave them visibility as the bigger foreign group in the country. Most of the research focused on classical topics directly related with integration, social positioning and governance issues such as: the labour market; family; marriage; gender; transnational practices; return policies; remittances; and associative movements.

In turn, the themes explored in analyses of Portuguese emigration included: demographic transformations and remittances’ impact in Portugal; representations; social mobility; emigrants’ return; integration; second generations and Portuguese communities abroad. Most of these studies focused on intra-European movements. Historic and contemporary transatlantic migrations were underrepresented until the 21st century. Only recently have studies made efforts to characterize these flows. From this century onwards, the new migratory trends and profiles have also been under analysis.

Overall, it was possible to identify biases when speaking about migration which, at times, slipped into unhelpful binary divisions (such as places of origin/destiny, here/there, emigration/immigration or us/them). What is more, these could be co-related with national political strategies, media representations and debates about the people arriving to, and leaving the country.

To better grasp the whole phenomena of the movements of people and things, both places of destiny and origin, as well as the routes, flows and timings of the various movements, should be taken into account. To do so, a further exercise will consist in putting literature produced in Brazil in dialogue with the aforementioned one. It will be interesting to compare thematic choices and to relate national political and media approaches with Portuguese immigration to Brazil, as well as with Brazilian emigration to Portugal. Nonetheless, we are aware that Academy’s borders are fluid. While undertaking this task, we already analyzed some co-produced works by Brazilian and Portuguese scholars and we do not intend to discard these intersections and academic cooperation.

For this next task we already have compiled some issues to consider: which topics are now being studied by scholars studying the circulation between Portugal and Brazil? Are Portuguese and Brazilian transatlantic flows as central to Brazilian scholars as they are to Portuguese academics? Are Portuguese immigrants studied in Brazil as much as Brazilians have been in Portugal? Is emigration to Portugal as much studied in Brazil as it has been by Portuguese academia? In what concerns the mobilities themselves, is migration to Portugal a stepping-stone to move elsewhere within Europe? How do Brazilians perceive the new inflows of Portuguese people in their country? What are the main media representations of the latter in the Brazilian society?

Results from an exploration of visas awarded by the Brazilian Consulate in Oporto

The current flow bringing Portuguese to Brazil is a hot topic on national media. However, little is known about its characteristics. In order to have a better grasp of one of the populations the project focuses on, we complemented research of statistical data produced by Portuguese and Brazilian entities (namely, the National Statistics Institute (Instituto Nacional de Estatística) in Portugal and the Brazilian Institute for Geography and Statistics (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística), with an exploration of visas awarded by the Brazilian Consulates in Portugal.

In Oporto, the main findings confirmed some perceptions suggested in the media as well as in previous studies. An analysis of a sample of visas (the same month throughout 2008 – 2013) revealed that, among the 377 granted visas, the most frequently awarded were Permanent Visas, Work Visas and Student Visas. Accordingly, the most common reasons to request a visa were, in order, work (35%), family reunification (32%), and studies (25%). Three clear tendencies emerge when circumscribing the 337 Portuguese nationals and excluding the student population, which is almost entirely single and concentrated in the 15-24 age group. Firstly, men not only outnumber women (218 men were awarded visas in contrast with 119 women) but also have been awarded more Visas overtime, in strike contrast with the decrease of Visas to their female counterparts. Secondly, 83% of people are 24 – 65 years old and are professionally active. Finally, 38% are highly qualified professionals.

Situated in decision-making positions in public administration and private companies or working in specialized intellectual and scientific jobs, they are engineers, architects, medical doctors, lawyers, financial directors, managers and artists among others. The sectors employing most Portuguese moving to Brazil are construction and real estate. Not surprisingly, people commonly do come from the biggest urban centres around Oporto (Oporto, Aveiro and Braga) and head to the large metropolitan areas of São Paulo (São Paulo), Rio de Janeiro (Rio de Janeiro) and Salvador (Bahia).

Screen shot 2013-09-06 at 3.30.30 PM

The exceptions concern one of the two profiles that stand out. Indeed, men who are invited by their Brazilian wives to move to Brazil on a permanent basis often end up scattered throughout small localities in various Brazilian states. The second profile, men who leave to work in Brazil and bring spouses and children on their visas, prefer urban centres. In contrast, there are far less women leaving to Brazil, and, therefore, thereare less Work Visas granted to women. In tandem, Portuguese women are seldom married to Brazilian men and are rarely invited by them to move to Brazil. They mostly travel, like their children, on their husbands Permanent or Work Visas. A third residual profile concerns retirees who choose to enjoy the later age in a tropical country (3%).

Taking off

Takingoff To pave the way for the comparative approach the project aims for there was a lot of ground to cover. The Brazilian population in Portugal has been widely studied in the last decade (i.e. Coêlho, n.d.; Filho, 2008; Góis, Marques, & Padilla, 2009; Machado, 2003; Malheiros (ed.), 2007; Padilla et al., 2012; Pontes, 2004 among others), since the second big influx of people started to arrive around the 2000s. In contrast, little is known about the Portuguese who make their way abroad ever since the country became an immigration context. Most researchers working on international mobility redirected their focus to the transformations taking place within the national territory (Arroteia, 2011; J. Malheiros, 2011; Peixoto, 2012). The only clues available suggest the dynamics of circulation among the two countries is witnessing a new trend: Portuguese emigrants have never been as qualified and many Brazilians face personal and pragmatic dilemmas when considering return, as there still may be more opportunities in big cities like Oporto and Lisbon than in the small towns from which many came (and grew unaccustomed to).

The team dived into contextualizing exercises. On the one hand, we interviewed 17 experts who have looked into different aspects of the Brazilians’ and Portuguese’ international mobility. Researchers, members of migrants’ associations, diplomatic officials and coordinators of institutions both monitoring and assisting international circulation (i.e the International Organization for Migration; the Observatory of Emigration; the National Institute of Statistics (INE – Instituto Nacional de Estatística) provided informed guesses and background research that have been useful to grasp the field. On the other hand, we grappled with data from the latest census in Portugal, Visas granted by both the General Consulate of Brazil in Oporto and Lisbon and detailed surveys conducted by INE about living conditions.

With a better sense of the scale of movements, contours of the population and dimension of tendencies, questions have been emerging. We are now preparing the survey we will carry out among Brazilians in Oporto and Lisbon and to Portuguese in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Besides looking to confirm our hints, we will be exploring questions of material culture that have never been asked to these people. What consumption habits change when Portuguese engineers, architects and managers have to cope with living in extremely expensive cities? What do unemployed construction workers who reach their limit bring home when s/he wants to impress friends and family (and keep some of Europe with him/her) but there is little s/he can afford? What investment strategies do entrepreneurial Brazilian beauticians take in order to endure the crisis and keep alluring customers to strive for a Brazilian-like body? How do the material surroundings of Portuguese men who find themselves in the small hometowns of their Brazilian wives change their view of Brazil? How do the Portuguese wives who travel on the work visas of their husbands reinvent their daily routines, and the rules of conduct they teach their children, in cities that are often talked about as very dangerous in Portugal?

Keep checking for updates.


Arroteia, J. C. (2011). A EMIGRAÇÃO PORTUGUESA : breve retrospectiva. Cadernos Vianenses, (45), 37–47.

Coêlho, C. M. (n.d.). Mobilidades migratórias e precarização das condições de vida: a situação dos brasileiros em Brasilândia (Portugal). Lisboa.

FIlho, W. (2008). Imagem do Imigrante Brasileiro no Jornalismo Televisivo Português 2004-2006 (Colecção T.). Lisboa: ACIDI.

Góis, P., Marques, J. C., & Padilla, B. (2009). Segunda ou terceira vaga ? As características da imigração brasileira recente em Portugal Second or third wave ? Patterns of recent Brazilian immigration in Portugal. Revista Migrações, Número Tem(5), 111–133.

Machado, I. J. de R. (2003). Cárcere Públioc – processos de exotização entre imigrantes brasileiros no Porto, Portugal. Universidade Estadual de Campinas.

Malheiros, J. (2011). Notas e Reflexões PORTUGAL 2010 : O REGRESSO DO PAÍS DE EMIGRAÇÃO ? 1., 2(1), 133–142.

Malheiros, J. M. (Ed.). (2007). Imigração brasileira em portugal (pp. 1–248). Lisboa: ACIDI – Observatório da Imigração.

Padilla, B., Rodrigues, E., Masanet, E., Fernandes, G., Gomes, M., & França, T. (2012). Novas e Velhas Configurações da Imigração Brasileira na Europa Atas do 2o Seminário de Estudos sobre a Imigração Brasileira na Europa Beatriz Padilla. Lisboa: CIES-IUL, ISCTE.

Peixoto, J. (2012). A emigração portuguesa hoje: o que sabemos e o que não sabemos. Lisboa.

Pontes, L. (2004). Mulheres Brasileiras na Mídia Portuguesa. Cadernos Pagu, 23(229-256).

Thoughts about dominant representations of Brazilian women

“Fragmentos de uma Observação Participativa/Fragments of a Participant Observation”, is a documentary film exploring and playing with the stereotype of the Brazillian woman in Portugal. Following the everyday life of a young anthropologist, the film leads us through dance floors, university auditoriums and the Lisbon underground to the kitchen table, where Paula shares with her two flatmates experiences of embarrassing fieldwork experiences, doubts about love affairs and future projects. As the trailer suggests, over laughter, tears and glasses of wine the characters deconstruct hegemonic representations and invite us to the same.

The film is the first part of a set of three stories, which will be combined in “Triângulo/Triangle” a long-feature film exploring the connections across the Atlantic through tales of migrants living in three key cities: Lisbon (Portugal), Luanda (Angola) and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). Local directors  explore the reconfigured power relations connecting these countries through the lived experience of those who circulate between them. Engaging with imagined proximities and objective misunderstandings feeding the relationship between the three lusophone contexts, the project explores the flip-side of myths such as the “European dream”, “the new African Eldorado” and a “samba and football” Brazil. At the same time, it contemplates ingrained complicity as it tries to identify new identities and sketch cultural criss-crossings, (dis)encounters and porosities. More information about the project here (in Portuguese).

“Fragments of a Participant Observation” was first screened in the independent film festival Indie Lisboa and has been in movie theatres throughout Portugal (Braga, at Theatro Circo;  Coimbra at Teatro Académico de Gil Vicente and Lisbon, at Nimas). The Association Zona Franca hosted a special screening followed by a debate with the protagonist and the film directors on July 2nd, 2013.

Documentary, 2013, 35′, Video
Writer: Pedro Pinho
Photography: Vasco Viana
Sound: Rúben Costa
Montage: Filipa Reis, João Miller Guerra
With: Monique Montenegro, Paula C. Togni, Verônica Silva
Producer: Filipa Reis, Marta Lança
Production: Vende-se Filmes

Consumption Seminar Series VI – Peter Jackson (Sheffield University)

Lecture and debate about the latest book by Peter Jackson & the CONANX group – “Food Words: Essays in Culinary Culture”, 2013, Bloomsburry. The book launch happened on  March 13th, 2013, in the context of the Consumption Seminar Series VI, organized by Marta Rosales (CRIA), Emília Margarida Marques (CRIA) and Monica Truninger (ICS), with the support of Fundação Ciência Tecnologia (FCT).

Materiality, contemporary movements and policies of belonging