It has finally happened.
After over a year of gathering documents, filling in forms, lawyers, judges and a lot of waiting, I have finally been granted a permanent visa, the Brazilian equivalent of the UK’s “indefinite leave to remain”, in accordance with the now-famous Resolução Normativa 77, a piece of legislation from 2008 that granted “stable partners” a raft of new rights, including the opportunity to bring their partner to Brazil on a temporary or permanent visa, regardless of gender.
The law allows a Brazilian to bring their “stable partner”, i.e. in an união estável (“stable union”) – less than “married”, but with many of the legal rights and safeguards, regardless of gender, into Brazil to live, work and stay.
Full marriage would have made the process much simpler, but we were not ready for that (and gay marriage had not been introduced in any states at that point) and were happy with the união estável solution, which appeared simple. In essence it is, but there have been many unforeseeable hurdles and we have come up against more than our fair share of useless people.
One of the big problems is that an união estável is easy to do – you walk into a cartório (legal registry office), pay R$90 or whatever it was, and you are partners – with many legal rights, including pensions and – now – immigration rights for your partner.
However, the fact that it is easily obtained means that if you wish to bring your partner into the country, you must supplement this união estável with other documents, and in some cases an audience with a judge, to back up the claim you’re asserting that you are a couple – and not just trying to get into Brazil on a “visa of convenience” for work or whatever else.
However, many of these documents have to be of a certain “age” – at least one or two years old. Some of the documents are rather “catch 22”, such as having a joint bank account: we couldn’t open one without me having the appropriate visa. Some of the documents were too big for us – joint mortgages, joint property…
For a number of reasons, mainly incorrect advice from a number of sources (even some official advice was wrong), we did not take out the easier documents – a will, life insurance – at an earliest stage in proceedings, and this demanded a more difficult solution – the legal trump card.
This trump card is an application to the local federal or family court to get a judge to vouch for you as a couple – for this, he or she looks into your relationship – with all the supporting documents (photos, statements, plane tickets, etc.) that you can muster. Then an audience of your friends is called for them to vouch for you, your status as a couple and your reason for wanting a permanent visa.
If the judge is satisfied, you get a document that goes to along with your application. This more or less forces the Immigration Service’s hand.
However, this takes time, and our our first, useless lawyer messed up proceedings in spectacular – initially not even lodging the application for a number of months, and then asking for the wrong document from the judge. In the time, thinking that the application was moving on, I decided not to renew my temporary visa – which could have been renewed for another year – and came back to Brazil after a summer break on a tourist visa.
We then discovered the application still had not been made and forced the lawyer to do his job. Luckily, we soon found a better, specialist lawyer to take over the case.
But the process took a long time: from August 2012 when it was initiated lodged with the judge, we finally got the document we needed in February 2013. By this point, my tourist visa had run out and I was stuck outside Brazil.
With an array of documents, plus our judge-signed trump card, I applied to Brasília and, to give them credit, my application for a permanent visa was authorised in a little over a month, and the word DEFERIDO (“granted”) finally appears on my application – all of which are visible to the public.
Now, once authorisation has reached the Brazilian Consulate in London, I can finally apply for the permanent visa that goes in my passport – for the princely sum of £160 (plus a reciprocal fee of £124).
That is the final step allowing me to return to my life in Brazil – return to a new chapter, as I will be living in São Paulo and not Curitiba.
Please get in touch if you would like information about the specialist lawyer that helped me in my visa authorisation application and court audience.