Brazil Changes its Migration Laws

The Migration Law in Brazil was approved by President Michel Temer this past May 24th, replacing highly restrictive laws, implemented in Brazil in 1980, named Alien Statute.

The new act was published in Brazil’s official journal, called Diário Oficial da União on May 25, 2017, and it will take effect 180 days after its publication. According to Brazil’s official website (, the new law will guarantee the same rights to foreign residents as to native-born Brazilians.

Although it revokes immigration laws inherited from Brazil’s military regime, the new text received criticism and changes to 20 sections, all of which were vetoed by the President. Brazil’s President was widely criticized for restricting the free movement of indigenous people between borders. According to Temer, this modification to the law conflicts with the Brazilian Constitution, regarding national defense. Specifically, the Constitution states that “[Brazil’s] national territory must be defended (…) controlling entry and exit of indigenous and non-indigenous people across the borders”.

Although the new law still leaves room for improvement, it represents an improvement on principles and guidelines related to policies for migrants. Brazil’s old statute was implemented during the country’s military dictatorship and viewed immigrants as a potential threat to national security. The new law will not only remove bureaucratic barriers to foreigners seeking to migrate but also treat the matter with a more humanitarian approach.

Maria Moller