Anyone born within the national territory, even from foreign parents, as well as children of Brazilians born abroad, have their Brazilian citizenship guaranteed. In the case of expatriates, however, the situation is different, because there are several rules that regulate the possibility of those people to acquire citizenship. Therefore, this remains a persistent doubt. After all, when has an expatriate the right to get Brazilian citizenship?

Truth is, that it depends. The Federal Constitution, as well as Law 13,445/2017 (or Migration Law), stipulates a number of requirements to be met by applicants, as well as the need to file a formal application at one of the Brazilian Federal Police headquarters. In addition to having all the requested documents up to date, it is necessary for the expatriate to meet all the criteria determined by the legislation.

The parameters required by the Brazilian Constitution depend on the place of origin of the expatriate, being the Portuguese benefited from the Equality Statute signed between Brazil and Portugal.

Throughout this article, we will properly understand how the process of getting Brazilian citizenship works and what the requirements are for each determined location. Check it out down below!

When has an expatriate the right to get Brazilian citizenship?

It is important to understand that the requirements for an expatriate to receive the Brazilian citizenship are stipulated by two different legislations. The Federal Constitution, published in 1988, determines different criteria depending on the expatriate’s country of origin – having more affinity with Brazil those who originate from other native Portuguese-speaking countries.

Then, Law 13,445, also known as the Migration Law, was enacted, which creates complementary requirements to those previously provided by the Federal Constitution. These criteria, however, do not override the rules from the Constitution: if, according to it, an expatriate must have regular residence in the country for 15 years, then this time must be respected to receive the citizenship.

    What does the Constitution say about it?

    The concession of naturalization is the process in which an expatriate is to receive Brazilian citizenship, being the act by which a person voluntarily acquires Brazilian nationality, provided that he or she meets the requirements established by law, decree, and related norms. According to the Constitution, the different criteria are applied according to the following groups:


    Foreigner from a Portuguese-speaking country

    For a citizen of a Portuguese-speaking country to get Brazilian citizenship, the Constitution requires proof of residence for one year uninterruptedly and strong moral standing.


    Portuguese immigrant

    The Portuguese who has permanent residence in Brazil benefit from the agreement of reciprocity of civil and political rights signed between Brazil and Portugal, which guarantees equal treatment of its citizens. Thus, they are the only non-Brazilian citizens to whom the rights inherent to Brazilians are attributed, with rare exceptions – just as Brazilians are guaranteed the rights of Portuguese citizens when in residence in Portugal.


    Foreigner of any other nationality

    For foreigners of any other nationality to get Brazilian citizenship it is necessary to prove residence in the country for more than fifteen uninterrupted years and no criminal convictions.

    What does the Migration Law say about it?

    The Migration Law, by turn, organizes the process of getting Brazilian citizenship according to different types of naturalization. However, as we’ve explained previously, it is important to keep in mind that these requirements are complementary to those of the Constitution. We will see below the criteria of the Migration Law:


    Ordinary Naturalization

    Foreigners who fulfill the following requirements have the right to ordinary naturalization:

    I – Has civil capacity, according to Brazilian law;

    II – Has resided in the national territory for a minimum period of 4 (four) years;

    III – Communicates with the Portuguese language, considering the naturalization conditions; and

    IV – Has no criminal convictions or has been rehabilitated, under the terms of the law.

    However, the law also provides for a reduction in this minimum 4-year term. The term is reduced to 1 year if the naturalizing citizen fulfills any of the following conditions

    I – Has a natural born or naturalized Brazilian child, except for provisional naturalization; or

    II – Has a Brazilian spouse or partner and has not discontinued the relationship, legally or de facto, at the time naturalization is granted.

    This requirement can also be reduced to a period of 2 years if the naturalized person fulfills one of the following requirements

    I – Has worked or can work in relevant services to the Country; or

    II – Is recommended for his professional, scientific or artistic capacity.

    However, immigrants from Portuguese-speaking countries will only be required to meet the requirements set by the Constitution.


    Extraordinary naturalization

    Extraordinary naturalization will be granted to a person of any nationality that fulfills the following requirements:

    I – Resides in Brazil for an undetermined period of time for at least 15 (fifteen) years; and

    II – Has no criminal convictions or has been rehabilitated, under the terms of the law.

    Special naturalization

    Can be granted in cases where the applicant:

    I – Is an immigrant who is a spouse or companion, for more than 5 (five) years, of a member of the Brazilian Foreign Services in activity or of a person in the service of the Brazilian State abroad (Special Naturalization of spouse or companion of a member of the Brazilian Foreign Service in activity or of a person in the service of the Brazilian State abroad)

    a) Has civil capacity under Brazilian law
    b) Has the ability to communicate in Portuguese
    c) Has no criminal conviction or has proof of rehabilitation

    II – Is an immigrant who is or has been an employee of a diplomatic mission or consular post of Brazil for more than 10 (ten) continuous years (Special Naturalization for employees of a diplomatic mission or consular post of Brazil)

    a) Has civil capacity under Brazilian law
    b) Has the ability to communicate in Portuguese
    c) Has absence of criminal conviction or proof of rehabilitation.


    Temporary naturalization

    The temporary naturalization is granted to the immigrant child or teenager that has established residence in the national territory before turning 10 (ten) years of age and must be requested through his or her legal representative. Afterwards, definitive naturalization is possible, as long as the conversion is requested within two (2) years after reaching the age of civil majority.


    Is residency the same thing as having an address?

    No. Many immigrants make the mistake of thinking that having proof of address is enough to get their naturalization. However, it is necessary to legally reside in Brazil. Living in the country irregularly, even upon presentation of proof of address for the minimum time required, marriage to a Brazilian citizen, or birth of a child in Brazilian territory does not grant the right to nationalization.


    Did you already know the naturalization process for getting Brazilian citizenship? Leave your questions in the comments below!

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