If you’re going to stay in any foreign country for more than six months — and have qualms about the consequences of overstaying your welcome — you sure need something bigger and better than a tourist visa. When in 2001 Mark and I got it into our heads to move to Brazil for what we initially thought would be "a while," we looked at the long list of temporary visas available to foreigners. As an editor, writer and journalist, Mark applied for the obvious visa, the coveted foreign correspondent visa — coveted for its amazing four-year validity — and I would apply as the correspondent’s spouse. Behave yourself, and you can apply to renew, one time only, for another four years. Wow, we thought, eight whole years. Perfect! As I think back on our two-month journey through the bureaucratic maze of notarizations, consularizations, certified translations, fees and money orders, I am struck by how smoothly it all actually went. In 2002 there were about 300 foreign correspondent visas granted by Brazil, and two of them were ours.
|We've spent a lot of time at the Brazilian consulate in NYC|
As I think back on our six-month journey for permanency I’m amazed we succeeded. I’m not so sure we’d have been so lucky today. Countries like Panama and Malaysia practically pay you to move in. Uruguay will give you a sweetheart residency deal. But many, many other countries, Brazil among them, are tightening up on who they allow in and how. I don’t imagine we’ll be seeing many more Americans here, at least not unless they’re sent by their companies, given Brazil’s current visa requirements. For example, I was surprised to learn that Brazil no longer requires the fairly straightforward and easy-to-get Good Conduct letter from your local police precinct. Now what’s required to prove you’re a solid, honest U.S. citizen is FBI Clearance! Wow! And from what I see online, getting FBI Clearance isn’t so easy, no matter how solid and honest a citizen you are. I’m so very grateful all that bureaucratic papelada (paperwork) is behind us. At least, until they change the rules.