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Find out what it takes to get a visa to work in the USA

With the end of the restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic, North American society finds itself in an impasse: despite the high demand for products and services and the recovering economy, there is no manpower for the open positions. According to the US Department of Labor’s Jolts report, more than 11 million vacancies were registered at the end of 2021. The atypical situation creates opportunities for Brazilian professionals, taking their qualifications and experience as a differential in the market.

If you want to work in the US, lawyer Leonardo Leão, a specialist in International Law, brings some very interesting tips. Check out!


OD: What do I need to get a US visa?

Leonardo Leon: Under current legislation, there are 187 types of visas for the US. However, we will cite here the most commonly used by Brazilians. Immigrant visas, which make the beneficiary eligible for permanent residency in the USA, are divided into two categories: family-based or employment-based (EB), where the candidate’s professional attributes are analyzed (EB-1, EB- 2, EB-3, EB-4), or a minimum investment of USD 500,000 in a regional center, which will generate jobs in an underdeveloped region (EB-5). There are also non-immigrant investor visas, which provide the beneficiary with temporary residency in the US. They are: international transfer of executive (L-1) and investor who has citizenship of countries with trade and navigation treaties with the USA (E-2).

OD: Is it more difficult or simpler these days?

Leonardo Leon: The so famous Green Card is not such a distant dream for Brazilians, as it is usually thought. According to the US Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Consular Affairs, in 2020, according to partial figures from the US tax report, there were 1,899 permanent residency permits (visas actually granted or changes of status). The Itamaraty estimates that around 1.6 million Brazilians currently live in North American territory. It is an advance that we have been noticing since 2015, an average of 10 to 18% year on year. And now, with the growth of the American economy and the need for more professionals, it is not possible to say whether it is simpler or more difficult, but that there is a need for more Brazilians to migrate, especially those with more qualified labor.

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OD: How do you get your passport?

Leonardo Leon: The Brazilian passport is issued by the Federal Police and is valid for ten years. Obtaining the document is not complicated, but it is necessary to follow a series of steps, gather the necessary documents and make an appointment with the Federal Police. All information, such as the necessary documents, can be found on the Federal Police website. Documentation is simple, you need to be up to date with electoral justice and military service (for men), then fill out a form, pay a fee, schedule an appointment to present documents and capture photos and digital data, consult the progress of your process and finally get your passport.

Leonardo Leão, International Law
The international law expert says that there are many job opportunities in the US, as long as Brazilians comply with US rules. Image: Personal Archive

OD: What are the main difficulties faced by Brazilians who venture to migrate to the US?

Leonardo Leon: The main difficulty is not complying with the determinations of the United States, that is, trying the famous Brazilian way, it doesn’t work, it never did. The best way to obtain a permanent residency visa, also known as a green card, is to bet on honesty, as the systems are rigorous. There is no ladder. American is very pragmatic, if you abide by the law, he carries out his process. All legislation would not exist if they were not interested in counting on immigrants, even more so in times like today with the lack of manpower in different sectors.

OD: What precautions should people take before embarking on a trip to the US to try to settle there?

Leonardo Leon: Basically it’s complying with all the rules, following the legislation in detail. The previous administration (Donald Trump) caused more difficulties to enter the USA. A process that used to take six months now takes a year and a half. Biden, by adopting a more pro-immigrant policy, tries to reduce. This year, the United States has already started to release more visas, mainly for the most qualified professionals, mainly in the areas of engineering, technology and health. One of the main precautions to properly plan your trip is to have a planning and consulting agency.

OD: The risk of going wrong is great when the correct procedures are not followed, what are the main consequences?

Leonardo Leon: It will go wrong, if you don’t follow American legislation, don’t comply with all the rules, there’s no way, the person won’t get a visa and if you travel without a visa, you’ll be stopped at the airport or arrested if you try to enter the country in any other way, the person will end up prosecuted, prevented from returning to the US and deported.

OD: And what is it like to live there, how do you get work, do people look for agencies, how does it work?

Leonardo Leon: The scope of immigration legislation is very broad because, with the heating of the United States economy at this post-pandemic moment, different professions have had many demands, people are leaving Brazil already with guaranteed employment or in negotiation with the contractor. There are visa categories, such as EB-2 NIW, where professionals with a bachelor’s degree and at least five years of above-average experience or skill in their fields can obtain a Greencard even without a job offer on American soil, in this case, it is also necessary to present an action plan in the United States. It is always important to remember that to file an immigration claim it is not necessarily necessary to have a lawyer, but the advice of a specialized office can make all the difference.

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