The Italian community in Brazil has assimilated so well over the years that a surprising number of Brazilians are eligible for Italian citizenship without even knowing it. Italian citizenship offers a lot of benefits, including the ability to live and work in Italy and the rest of the European Union, as well as the ability to enter the United States through the Visa Waiver Program and to access its E-2 Treaty Investor Visa program.
Italian Migration to Brazil
During the last decade of the nineteenth century, more Italians emigrated to Brazil than to any other country in the world. It is estimated that over one million Italians moved to the Sao Paulo area and to the southern states of Brazil in the 1890s. Many of them came from the Veneto region of north eastern Italy and were lured by subsidised transportation and the offer of agricultural jobs in coffee plantations.
The numbers fell after the Italian government passed measures to stem the tide in 1902 by ending subsidized transport to Brazil, but high levels of immigration resumed after the end of the First World War. Today, it is estimated that over 30 million Brazilians are descended from these Italian immigrants.
The process of obtaining an Italian citizenship is called naturalization. It is open to people who can demonstrate an Italian grandparent, great-grandparent or a relevant connection even further back. Our Italian naturalization lawyers, based in Rome, have helped numerous Brazilians obtain Italian citizenship by proving their ancestry and working with the approporiate authorities in Italy to build and file the case. The team has also worked with Venezuelans, Argentinians, Americans, Mexicans, and people from other countries in the same way.
An Italian passport offers the ability to live and work in any European Union country. It also grants visa-free access to 126 countries, as well as the ability to get a visa upon arrival in a further 39. Holders of an Italian passport are eligible for the Visa Waiver Program to the United States. This program allows citizens or nationals of participating countries to enter the United States for up to 90 days without a visa. Brazilian citizens are not currently eligible and must apply for a visa before travelling to or transiting through the United States.
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Access to the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa Program
E-2 Treaty Investor Visas permit citizens of specific countries to move to the United States if they invest a substantial amount of capital in an American business (usually > $100,000). The primary applicant must be involved in running the business, but spouses can apply for work authorization in the United States outside of the business. Clients have used the E-2 visa to start-up new businesses, acquire existing business, or expand their current business. Franchise options are available, meaning off-the-shelf business solutions are available if you do not have an E-2 business in mind.
Brazilians are not currently eligible for an E-2 visa, but Italians are. Davies & Associates has successfully packaged Italian naturalization with an E-2 Visa application for a number of Brazilian clients. Please note, that while many Brazilians can claim Portuguese citizenship, Portugal does not hold an E-2 Treaty with the United States. Italians are initially granted an E-2 Visa for up to 60 months, but this can be renewed forever, so long as the underlying business continues to operate and meet its targets.
L-1 Visas Brazil
The L-1 visa program allows companies operating in the United States to bring skilled workers at the executive or managerial levels from overseas. It also allows for owners of small businesses to expand their business in the United States and transfer an executive member of staff to the United States to manage that business. Brazilians are currently eligible for L-1 visas that last for an initial period of up to two years, whereas Italian citizens are granted L-1 visas for up to five years. Both are able to renew their L-1 visas for up to a maximum of 7 years for an L-1A visa. After this time you must return to Brazil / Italy or transition to another visa to remain in the United States.
EB-5 Visa Brazil
Not all route into the USA go through Italy. Brazilian nationals are eligible to apply for the EB-5 immigrant investor visa program without needing to first take Italian citizenship. This visa offers a quick route to a green card for a $900,000 investment that creates and sustains ten American jobs. Davies & Associates is a leader in this field and has never had an EB-5 application rejected in our many years of service. 282 visas were issued to Brazilians in 2019 out of annual quota of just over 700. Whilst that leaves a lot of spare capacity, the example of India shows just how a country can go from the low hundreds to exceeding the quota in just two years. Countries exceeding their EB-5 visa quota enter a waitlist.
Researching your Family Tree
Acquiring an Italian passport opens up so many opportunities for Brazilians citizens. Through our offices and partners in Italy, my team has helped many Brazilians successfully claim their ancestral right to Italian citizenship, and we have continued to work with clients to get them access to the United States and beyond. So, start researching your family tree today, and please feel free to contact us to discuss your needs and eligibility.
To discuss your interest in Italian citizenship or any Italian residency, tax or property issues, please contact Matteo Tisato, the Italian-speaking Senior Immigration Analyst. [email protected]
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