Brazil is a country of opportunities, progressively attracting more students to its universities each year. However, this is not restricted to the native Brazilians. The demand for getting into the country’s universities has been catching a growing attention from many curious minds abroad, and thus, a common question in regards to this process is: how to apply for a university in Brazil as a foreigner?

We then prepared this article in order to help you learn through which ways you can become a Brazilian university student and what the requirements are for each option. Keep on reading to find out how to become a university student in Brazil as a foreigner.

How to become a university student in Brazil as a foreigner?

The truth, it depends. There’s more than one way to become one, depending on several rules – such as the student’s home country and whether or not he or she is in Brazilian territory. Generally speaking, the entrance of foreign students into Brazilian universities is done through exchange programs, through the Exchange Student Program (PEC-PG), or by being given a vacancy, in cases of diplomatic courtesy. Let’s get to know more about how admittance is done in different situations.

Exchange Programs and International Mobility

Several Brazilian universities have an Exchange Program, aimed at students from partner institutions wishing to spend a few semesters at a Brazilian university who has a partnership with their home country’s university. It is also possible to apply for limited time stays even if your university doesn’t have a cooperation or agreement with the university of destination, but these applications will depend on approval depending on the rules of each institution and according to the availability of vacancies.

    Can foreigners in Brazil take the ENEM (National High School Exam)?

    Yes. In fact, this is the only way to become a university student in this situation. The universities specify that candidates of foreign origin who reside in Brazil must undergo the regular form of selection like Brazilian ones. The rule applies the same for foreigners who graduated high school in Brazil.
    Although the ENEM exams are only made in Portuguese, foreign participants can also register for the exam. To do so, they must have any identity document issued by the Department of Justice or a provisional National Immigration Registration card or document (RNE).

    Getting a student visa

    An important step in how to become a university student in Brazil is obtaining a visa. The Student Visa (Temporary Visa IV/VITEM IV) can be granted for stays of up to 365 days in Brazil, for students accepted or enrolled in undergraduate or graduate courses recognized by the Ministry of Education (MEC) in Brazil. It can be refilled, with no limit of times, each year, as long as the student stays in courses in Brazilian territory. However, VITEM IV beneficiaries cannot be employed in Brazil.

    Foreigner in its home country: The PEC-G

    PEC-G, or the Undergraduate Student-Convention Program, is a set of international educational cooperation activities and procedures aimed at students from countries with which Brazil has a framework agreement in the areas of education, culture or science and technology. Developed by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Education, in partnership with public and private universities, PEC-G selects high school graduates from foreign countries, aged 18 and preferably up to 23, to offer higher education study opportunities in the country.

    All undergraduate courses are completely free, with no tuition or any fee throughout the entire course length, and there aren’t restrictions as to the nature of the Brazilian Higher Education Institutions to participate in the program. However, the foreign student must meet some criteria, such as proving he’s able to pay for his expenses in Brazil, have a high school graduation certificate or equivalent, and be proficient in Portuguese. In addition, he must have an overall final average of 60% in all subjects at high school in his country.
    Thus, PEC-G includes citizens from 68 countries and is one of the best opportunities to become a university student in Brazil for those who don’t reside in Brazilian territory, because there are some parameters that do not allow foreigners to join. According to government officials, enrollment will not be accepted in the following cases which the applicant is not living within the country’s borders:

    • Brazilian citizen, even if holding dual nationality;
    • Holder of any temporary or permanent visa for Brazil;
    • Candidates who have completed high school in Brazil.

    Those interested should consult the participation status of their home country (that is, if it’s available or not) and enroll at Brazilian diplomatic missions or consular offices, upon presentation of various supporting documents on a date set by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It’s important the applicant informs himself around the issue of which Higher Education Institutions in Brazil is participating and the courses offered, because the applicant must choose one or two course options at the time of enrollment, and it’s also possible to indicate two Brazilian cities where this person would like to study. The ranking of the registered candidates is based mainly on their academic transcripts.


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