Brazil extending welcome to immigrants

March 26, 2013 at 2:02 PM
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RIO DE JANEIRO, March 26 (UPI) -- Brazil is looking for 6 million people to move to the South American country to accelerate development, officials say.

Brazil was founded by immigrants, but now has one of the lowest percentages of foreign-born citizens in the world, The Miami Herald reported Monday.

Ricardo Paes de Barros, the country's secretary of strategic affairs, admitted Brazil has become "very, very closed to immigration." But in inviting people to move to the country, "we're not after population; we're after talent and human capital."

Especially needed are engineers to work in the country's energy industries, as well as large-scale infrastructure and communications projects.

About 40,000 engineers graduate from Brazil's universities each year, but 60,000 are needed, said Andre Sacconato, research director at Brazil Investments & Business, an international business and investment center.

After a big rush of immigrants a century ago, only 0.3 percent of Brazil's population is now foreign-born, Paes de Barros said. Adding to that is a decline in fertility rates. Around 2025, the population of elderly is projected outnumber those of working age.

To streamline an influx of immigrants, he said the government is changing policies and procedures necessary to get work visas. As many as 19 documents must now be submitted, and permission can take months.

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