What is the change? The Brazilian Ministry of Justice has published a new ordinance that defines procedures and requirements for naturalization. The ordinance also addresses loss of citizenship and reacquisition, as well as the rights of Portuguese nationals to acquire voting rights.

What does the change mean? These regulations take effect immediately and list eligibility criteria and documentary requirements for the Federal Police to approve a naturalization application.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate.
  • Who is affected: Immigrants currently living in Brazil and interested in becoming Brazilian nationals.
  • Business impact: The changes will not affect business, as they involve exclusively naturalization procedures.

BAL Analysis: Ordinance #11, which was published May 4, establishes important parameters on how immigrants currently living in Brazil may acquire Brazilian nationality. Notably, the new requirements impose a considerable restriction on proof of Portuguese proficiency. The naturalization process now requires a language proficiency certificate (“Celpe-Bras – Certificado de Proficiencia em Lingua Portuguesa”) issued by the Ministry of Education. The language test is currently only administered twice per year. Also, the ordinance includes a sample list of accepted documents to prove residency in Brazil in order to qualify for naturalization. These documents include medical reports, employment contracts, lease agreements, among others.

Although the new language requirement may appear to limit immigrants who are applying for Brazilian nationality, the government is emphasizing proficiency in Portuguese since this is an important factor in immigrants’ ability to adapt to Brazilian life.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in Brazil. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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