Is it possible to obtain Brazilian nationality through marriage?

Both the Constitution of the Federative Republic of Brazil and the constitutional doctrine make it clear that marriage is not a criterion for the acquisition of Brazilian nationality.

That is, to only have a marriage celebrated with a Brazilian citizen does not entitle a foreign spouse to obtain Brazilian nationality.

Therefore, the chances of acquiring Brazilian nationality are only those established in the Federal Constitution.

1. Naturalization – Constitutional Provision

In order to acquire Brazilian nationality (aquisição da nacionalidade brasileira), just by the naturalization criterion, one has two hypotheses: ordinary naturalization and extraordinary naturalization.

Thus, according to article 12 of the Federal Constitution, foreigners who come from Portuguese-speaking countries, reside in Brazil for one uninterrupted year and have moral integrity may apply for ordinary naturalization.

Foreigners of any nationality who have lived in Brazil for more than 15 uninterrupted years and have no criminal conviction may request extraordinary naturalization.

Is it possible to obtain Brazilian nationality through marriage?

2. Naturalization and the Migration Law

However, the constitutional provision for the acquisition of Brazilian nationality must be combined with the rules provided for in the Migration Law, Law No. 13,445, of May 24th, 2017.

That being said, Article 64 of the aforementioned Law provides that naturalization can be either ordinary, extraordinary, special or provisional.

With regard to ordinary naturalization, which is the naturalization that we will highlight in this article, Article 65 provides the conditions for its granting, as follows:

  • have civilian capacity, according to Brazilian law;
  • having been a resident in national territory for a minimum period of 4 (four) years;
  • communicate in Portuguese, taking the conditions of the candidate into consideration; and;
  • not have any criminal convictions or having been rehabilitated, in terms of the law.

Therefore, based upon the analysis of these requirements, there is no legal provision that states that marriage alone conveys the right to acquire Brazilian nationality.

3. Criteria for foreigners married to Brazilian citizens

However, the Migration Law under Article 66 provides that the term for granting ordinary nationality can be reduced to at least 1 (one) year of residence, when the foreigner fulfills one of the following options:

  • having a Brazilian child;
  • having a Brazilian spouse or partner and not being legally or de facto separated from them at the time of the naturalization;
  • having rendered or being able to render relevant services to Brazil; or
  • being recommended for professional, scientific or artistic ability.

Thus, it is true to say that marriage influences the length of residence required for naturalization, but marriage alone does not make foreigners acquire Brazilian nationality.

Therefore, if you are a foreign citizen, married to a Brazilian citizen or have a Brazilian child, you can apply for Brazilian naturalization after (1) one year of regular residence.

With regard to foreigners who provide or have rendered relevant service to Brazil or who have been recommended due to their professional, scientific or artistic capacity, the Migration Law provides that the fulfillment of these conditions will be assessed in accordance to existing regulation.

In this respect, the Migration Law Regulation provides that the assessment of the relevance of the service provided or to be provided in Brazil, as well as the professional, scientific or artistic capacity, will be carried out by the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, which may consult other bodies public administration.

Therefore, if you fulfill one of these requirements, the residence period of 4 (four) years will be reduced to 2 (two) years.

Is it possible to obtain Brazilian nationality through marriage?

4. Where can I apply for Brazilian naturalization?

The request for ordinary naturalization must be addressed to the Ministry of Justice and submitted to one of the units of the Federal Police.

It is worth remembering that, for the instruction of the naturalization, proof of the ability to communicate in Portuguese can be given through the presentation of Celpe-Bras – Certificado de Proficiência em Língua Portuguesa para Estrangeiros.

Finally, the decision to grant the request for naturalization will be published in the Federal Official Gazette. Naturalization will only take effect after the delivery of the naturalization certificate. From this moment on, you will have all the rights and duties of a Brazilian citizen.

(Vanessa C. Bueno, Patricia Braga)

Translation of: Nacionalidade brasileira pelo casamento: é possível?

* Note: text updated on 11/4/2020.

[*Image source: Unsplash, Pixabay]

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