Immigration between Brazil and the United States and joint challenges

Joao Mateus Loyola

Immigration attorney at Gondim Law Corp., licensed by the State Bar of California since 2022, member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), and member of the USCIS Liaison Committee

João Mateus Loyola, immigration attorney at Gondim Law Corp., licensed by the State Bar of California since 2022, member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and member of the USCIS Liaison Committee

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This year, Brazil and the United States celebrate 200 years of diplomatic relations. Throughout this journey, immigration has emerged as a central theme in the bilateral dynamics between the two countries, influencing their political, social and cultural relations in a significant way. According to Itamaraty, the Brazilian immigrant community in the United States reached 1.9 million people last year, a number that is expected to grow in 2024.

California-based immigration firm Gondim Law Corp. estimates that the number of Brazilians in US territory should exceed 2 million this year. If this happens, Brazil will surpass South Korea to become the 14th country sending the most immigrants to the United States.

The migration of Brazilians to the United States is a relatively new phenomenon, which gained strength since 1980. The first wave of migration occurred in the 80s and 90s, driven by excessive inflation and unfavorable economic conditions in Brazil. Today, as a result of this movement, the number of Brazilians wishing to migrate to our country has increased and, consequently, the births of Brazilian children in the United States have gained greater visibility.

According to data from the MPI Institute, the average age of Brazilian immigrants is lower than that of the general population of immigrants from other countries, due to their higher level of education, above-average labor force participation rate, and better command of English. Approximately 42% of Brazilian Americans age 25 and older have at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to 31% of all immigrants and 32% of native-born Americans.

Brazilians also represent higher workforce and family incomes than immigrant and native groups. About 36% work in management, business, science, and arts occupations, while about 25% are in service occupations.

In addition to immigration, bilateral relations extend to the economy and cooperation on human rights and technology issues. The United States is Brazil’s second-largest trading partner, while US foreign direct investment in Brazil is significant – reaching the $191.6 billion mark in 2021 – the largest volume of foreign direct investment of any other country. Exports from the United States to Brazil support approximately 130 thousand jobs in the country, while Brazilian exports to the United States are responsible for more than 500 thousand jobs in Brazil.

In the field of human rights, since 2015, the two countries have been engaged in global working dialogue on human rights on relevant multilateral and bilateral issues. For example, in May last year, the governments of the two countries relaunched the Joint Brazil-US Action Plan to Eliminate Racial and Ethnic Discrimination and Promote Equality, as part of a commitment to confront racial and ethnic inequalities. In September of the same year, they launched the Labor Rights Partnership to advance labor rights globally.

In the field of technology, the two countries strengthen cooperation in research, development and security. Under the 2015 Defense Cooperation Agreement, they promote joint exercises and share sophisticated capabilities and technologies. These partnerships reflect the strategic importance and historical ties between the two countries.

One of the main challenges between Brazil and the United States is the issue of immigration, which has been a point of tension between the two countries. Finding solutions to migration issues, including visa policies and migration flows, has become a priority on the bilateral agenda, such as modernizing visa application processes to make them more efficient and accessible, facilitating the process for Brazilian travelers who wish to visit the United States for tourist, academic or business reasons.

In a recent decision, the Brazilian government decided to extend the visa waiver for citizens of the United States until 2025. Normally, visa waivers between countries take place through a bilateral agreement, in which both parties agree to adopt similar measures following the principle of reciprocity. Meanwhile, Brazil remains in 18th place in the ranking of countries with the most pending asylum requests.

According to data compiled by Gondim, there has been a steady increase in recent months, with 537 orders received in October, 633 in November, 690 in December and 816 in January 2024. In comparison, in the same period of the previous financial year (October 2022 to January 2023), there have been a total of 981 requests, as opposed to the 2,676 requests made so far, which represents an almost threefold increase in the number of requests.

To effectively address these challenges, an open and constructive dialogue between the two countries is crucial, aimed at finding mutually beneficial solutions. Cooperation at the diplomatic level, as well as strengthening ties between the public and private sectors, is fundamental to overcoming obstacles and fostering a more resilient and collaborative bilateral relationship.

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About the author: Cory Weinberg

"Student. Subtly charming organizer. Certified music advocate. Writer. Lifelong troublemaker. Twitter lover."

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