Brasília – The business of America is business, goes the saying, and as Brazilians are interested in doing business, bring them on. At least make it easier for them to come.
The number of Brazilians traveling to the US is smaller only than visitors from such traditional frontrunners as Canada, Europe and Japan.
Here are some numbers from 2011: Canadians (21 million) and Mexicans (13 million), United Kingdom |(3.8 million), Japan (3.2 million) and Germany (1.8 million). Those are the countries that led the list of visitors to the US, but significantly, except for Canada and Germany (both up 5%), the number of visitors was actually down for Mexico, the United Kingdom (both down less than 1%, but down) and Japan (the crisis and the tsunami resulted in a sharp decline of 4% in the number of Japanese visitors to the US in 2011).
Against this background, Brazil is statistically and significantly unique. In sixth place on the list of visitors to the US with 1.5 million, the number of Brazilians traveling to the US was up a whooping 25% in 2011 – in spite of all the crises and tsunamis.
That caught somebody’s eye in Washington. First, the State Department announced it was opening two more consulate offices (Belo Horizonte and Porto Alegre). Now comes news that the visa process will be streamlined and less expensive for Brazilians.
Beginning on April 30, the cost of a visa will fall from R$360 to R$280 (around $160). And on May 7 new visa facilitation centers (separate from the embassy and consulates) will open in Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, Recife, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo where information will be collected and processed before interviews at the embassy and consulates when they are necessary. The State Department also announced that, although it will take time, work is underway to eliminate the need for Brazilians to get visas.
All these changes were negotiated and are being announced just after the visit of president Dilma Rousseff to Washington at the beginning of April.
Allen Bennett – translator/editor The News in English – content modified