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Foreign residents in Brazil being turned, despite right to enter

. Jan 31, 2021
Foreign residents in Brazil being turned, despite right to enter Guarulhos Airport, in São Paulo. Photo: Matheus Obst/Shutterstock

The most worrying development of the Covid-19 pandemic in recent months has been the emergence of new and more contagious variants in Brazil, the United Kingdom, and South Africa — countries in which the virus was largely allowed to spread unchecked. This has led to a series of flight restrictions to and from these countries, with the British government banning air arrivals from Brazil, and a similar prohibition being put in place for flights going in the opposite direction.

On January 8, the Brazilian Office of the Chief of Staff issued Ordinance No. 651, which deals with “the exceptional and temporary restriction of foreigners of any nationality entering the country,” imposing a ban on all flights arriving from Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as well as barring the entry of all visitors from the country.

</p> <p>The same rule lays out exceptions to this rule, namely for Brazilian nationals and foreigners with permanent residence visas in the country. These individuals would be permitted entry, providing they observe a 14-day quarantine upon arrival.</p> <p>However, one source heard by <strong>The Brazilian Report</strong> highlighted that the Foreign Affairs Ministry is not adhering to its own rules, with British-born residents being turned away before boarding flights to Brazil.</p> <p>Tom Ashe, a British-born trumpeter who has lived and worked in Rio de Janeiro since 2008, told <strong>The Brazilian Report</strong> that he was turned away when trying to board an Air France flight from Paris to Rio de Janeiro. Despite holding a permanent residence visa — which guarantees Mr. Ashe all of the same rights offered to Brazilian citizens — he was put on the next flight back to London, being told that &#8220;confirmation from the Brazilian Consulate in London would help to clear things up next time.”</p> <p>Alas, it did not.</p> <p>“When consulting the site of the Brazilian Consulate in London, they had added the text that I sent in the first email to make it look as if permanent residents cannot travel, when, in fact, according to the law, we can,&#8221; he explains. &#8220;I then emailed the consulate and they emphatically said I cannot travel. They sent the same email to other permanent residents as well.”&nbsp;</p> <p>The mess does not end there. Besides putting permanent residents in limbo with a lack of consistency between laws, official statements, and border policy, returning visa-holders complain that permission to fly to Brazil is being decided on a case-by-case basis, depending on how each airline chooses to interpret the government&#8217;s ordinance.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Some permanent residents are getting through via [airlines] TAP and KLM, but I was stopped with Air France and another friend [was barred] a couple of days ago flying with Iberia. And who could blame them if the system has incorrect information from the Brazilian Consulate?” asks Mr. Ashe.</p> <h2><strong>What the government says</strong></h2> <p>Brazil&#8217;s Federal Police — in charge of operating immigration desks at Brazilian airports — has permitted the entrance of permanent residents without hiccups, suggesting that the problem appears to reside in blurred lines between the Brazilian government&#8217;s rules and advice given by its consulates around the world, leading to mistaken interpretations on behalf of some airlines.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>The Brazilian Report</strong> reached out to the Foreign Affairs Ministry to clarify the issue, and was told emphatically that while there is no specific law regulating foreign residents in Brazil, &#8220;the only information regarding this matter is contained within Ordinance No. 651,&#8221; which clearly states that British nationals with permanent residency visas have the right to enter Brazil under the latest restrictions.</p> <p>Facing a brick wall with the Brazilian Consulate in London, Mr. Ashe finally managed to board a flight back to Rio de Janeiro after consulting Air France&#8217;s page on <a href="https://airfrance.traveldoc.aero/">TravelDoc</a> — a travel documentation verification system that allows airlines to check whether passengers are permitted to travel.</p> <p>According to TravelDoc, travel to Brazil for British nationals with valid Brazilian residence permits is &#8220;conditional to board,&#8221; and provides all of the rules laid out in Ordinance No. 651, translated into English.

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Lucas Berti

Lucas Berti covers international affairs — specialized in Latin American politics and markets. He has been published by Opera Mundi, Revista VIP, and The Intercept Brasil, among others.

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