Category Archives: Migration Studies

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].

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.


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