An Overview for Brazilians Seeking US Residency

An Overview for Brazilians Seeking US Residency

Immigrating to the United States from Brazil is a dream for many Brazilians, but the process can often seem complex and challenging. Understanding the history, current regulations, and necessary steps can help demystify the process and increase your chances of success. Here’s a comprehensive guide for Brazilian nationals seeking US residency.

Brazilian girl getting US visa

History of Brazilian Immigration to the USA

Historically, Brazilian immigration to the United States has fluctuated with changes in both countries’ socio-economic conditions and immigration policies. In the 1980s and 1990s, economic instability in Brazil led to a significant increase in Brazilian nationals seeking better opportunities in the US. During this period, many Brazilians entered the US on tourist visas and overstayed, leading to a sizeable undocumented population.

In recent years, the US has implemented stricter immigration policies, making it more challenging for Brazilians to enter and remain in the country legally. Despite these hurdles, many Brazilians have successfully navigated the system and obtained permanent residency through various legal channels.

Steps to Apply for Permanent Residency in the USA

For Brazilian nationals, there are several pathways to apply for permanent residency, commonly known as a Green Card, in the United States. Here are the primary steps involved:

1. Family-Sponsored Immigration

One of the most common ways to obtain US residency is through family sponsorship. If you have a close relative who is a US citizen or a Green Card holder, they can petition for you. The process involves:

  • Filing Form I-130: The US-based relative files Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  • Approval and Visa Availability: Once the petition is approved, you must wait for a visa number to become available. This wait time varies based on your relationship with the petitioner and current immigration quotas.
  • Consular Processing or Adjustment of Status: If you are in Brazil, you will complete consular processing at a US embassy or consulate. If you are already in the US, you may be eligible to adjust your status by filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

2. Employment-Based Immigration

Another pathway is through employment. If you are from Brazil and have a job offer from a US employer, they can sponsor you for a Green Card. The process includes:

  • Labor Certification: The employer must obtain a labor certification from the Department of Labor, proving that there are no qualified US workers available for the position.
  • Filing Form I-140: The employer files Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, with USCIS.
  • Approval and Visa Availability: Similar to family-sponsored immigration, you must wait for a visa number to become available.
  • Consular Processing or Adjustment of Status: Follow the same steps as in family-sponsored immigration.

3. Diversity Visa Lottery

The Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery, also known as the Green Card Lottery, offers another route. Brazil is not currently eligible for the DV Lottery due to high immigration rates to the US, but this may change in future years. Always check the current eligibility requirements when considering this option.

4. Asylum and Refugee Status

Brazilians facing persecution due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group may apply for asylum or refugee status. This process involves:

  • Filing for Asylum: If you are from Brazil and are already in the US, you can file and application for Asylum. Form I-589 is the Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, and must be filed within one year of your arrival.
  • Refugee Status: If you are outside the US, you must apply for refugee status through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) or a US embassy.


Navigating the US immigration process can be daunting, but with the right guidance and support, it is possible to achieve your goal as a Brazilian for permanent residency in the USA. At Cheves Briceno Immigration Lawyers, we specialize in helping Brazilian nationals with all their immigration needs. Our team includes multiple staff and attorneys who speak fluent Portuguese, ensuring clear communication and personalized support throughout your journey. Contact us to schedule a consultation about your Brazilian immigration case and take the first step towards securing your future in the United States.

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