New regulation makes the procedure for requesting Brazilian nationality stricter
Today a new regulation (Portaria 623/2020) was published by the Brazilian government changing some of the procedures relating to naturalization requests. The new regulation revokes the previous one (Portaria 11/2018) and is applicable to all naturalization requests made as from Nov 17, 2020. Below, we present some new rules relating to naturalization requests that were established by this new regulation.
1) Stricter requirements for proving ability to communicate in Portuguese
The new regulation makes stricter the requirements for demonstrating ability to communicate in Portuguese, which is one of the requirements for ordinary naturalization.
Basically, the documents for proving ability to communicate in Portuguese remain the same as those previously requested under the previous regulation. However, where the applicant submits a certificate of conclusion of a Portuguese course for immigrants from an accredited institution, he/she should also submit the respective course transcripts and the syllabus.
In addition, for online courses, it will be necessary to show that the applicant took at least one exam in presence (face-to-face examination). In other words, the Brazilian authorities will not accept certificates from courses for immigrants which have been taken 100% online without one face-to-face evaluation.
Another substantial alteration is the fact the the new regulation does not allow the applicant anymore to submit, as evidence of ability to communicate in Portuguese, proof of enrolment in a graduate or undergraduate program in a Brazilian University.
Certificates of conclusion of graduate or post-graduate studies from Brazilian institutions or proof of conclusion of Brazilian elementary or secondary school or supplementary education will be accepted even if they reflect distance learning courses.
2) Recorded interview with the Federal Police
While analysing the request for naturalization, the Federal Police can interview the applicant which shall be recorded. If the applicant does not show the ability to communicate in Portuguese, the request for naturalization may be rejected. The new regulation also establishes that the Nationality and Naturalization Division of the Department for Migration of the National Secretary of Justice can make additional requests and make an interview with the applicant which shall also be recorded.
3) Additional documents for ordinary and extraordinary naturalization requests
Apart from the documents originally required under the previous regulation for naturalization processes, the new regulation requires additional documents, that is:
(i) State court distribution registry for civil matters from where the applicant has been residing in the last 5 years;
(ii) Federal court distribution registry for civil matters from where the applicant has been residing in the last 5 years;
(iii) Certificate of Protest from the Registries where the applicant has been residing in the last 5 years;
(iv) Certificate of absence of debts issued from the Labour Court from where the applicant has been residing in the last 5 years.
In theory, the existence of debts and protests affecting the applicant should not impede his or her naturalization, given that the Immigration Law does not establish that pending debts in the name of the immigrant will prevent his or her naturalization.
4) Clarification as to the methodology for counting the residence period in Brazil.
The new regulation clarified that, for the purposes of counting the immigrant residence period in Brazil, trips outside Brazil for up to 90 days within a year will be allowed and will not affect the immigrant’s residence period in Brazil for naturalization request purposes.
5) Other investigations
Where necessary, the Brazilian immigration authorities can carry out investigations to verify:
(i) indicia of falsehood in the documents submitted in the naturalization request;
(ii) the validity of documents; or
(iii) differences between the information provided in the process and the documents which were submitted.
These investigations are already carried out by the immigration authorities. However, the new regulation made them more explicit. Note that naturalization may be annulled if based on false documents.
6) Obligation to return the residence card to the Federal Police
Once the naturalization is granted, the applicant shall return his or her residence card to the Federal Police.
7) Face-to-face application in places where online system is not working
Although an online system called “Naturalizar-se” has been recently created for online submission of naturalization requests, in some cities the system is not working. In these cases, the new regulation states that the application shall be made in the relevant unit of the Federal Police.
Natália de Lima Figueiredo, lawyer and founding partner of Figueiredo Law. Member of the Commission for the Rights of Immigrants and Refugees of the Brazilian Bar Association, city of São Paulo.
Phone: +55 11 5087-8832
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