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A Matter of Economics, a Secure Visa, and Smarts

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Joined: 22 Oct 2002
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Location: Los Angeles, California

PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2003 1:31 am    Post subject: A Matter of Economics, a Secure Visa, and Smarts Reply with quote

Hello everyone. I just wanted to say THANK YOU TO DAVE SPERLING for having this excellent forum. He's probably the hardest working man in ESL!

I had written earlier postings. I wanted to just share with you some new developments, and then outline advice that you can use to avoid my pitfalls.

Let me just say that Brazil is a fantastic country that has a lot to offer in the ways of Carnaval, wonderful people, great beaches, living a relaxed lifestyle, and fantastic music.


There is literally something for everyone, but I need to tell you that I had to leave Salvador, Brazil. I was given 8 days to leave. I returned to the US at the end of September 2002. My girlfriend (yes she was extremely attractive and others would think I was crazy for not having married her) turned me into the Brazilian immigration after I decided AGAINST marrying her. The problem was that I had overstayed my extension. I did not feel right in marrying someone just for the sake of marrying her. If you knew some of the stories, you would think it's a fairytale. I had at times, model-like women wanting to marry me or have "special" relations with me, in part, because I was from the US, a foreigner, and different from what they were used to. They found that sexy and attractive. I even remember this time when a party, outside of Sao Paulo, literally stopped and I was presented women TO MARRY, by excited mothers. It sounds so crazy, doesn't it? This stuff never happens to me in the US, but BE CAREFUL! You need to sort WHY a female is with you. Get to know the person before you marry. It's just not worth the risk otherwise.

Another reason I was asked to leave was because 35 Brazilians were deported from the US for staying illegally, during the same time. The Brazilian Federal Police did a sweep and tried to kick out everyone who was illegal (and from the US). Never mind that I had documented Clearance Records showing that I had never committed a crime and that I was a law-abiding citizen. My girlfriend new the advantage of throwing me out. She wanted to literally take everything from my apartment.

I have learned that you should GO TO BRAZIL PROPERLY! Go in on the proper visa. Be careful of the risk involved in marriage. Did you know that Brazilian law allows your girlfriend (or boyfriend) to have possessions of your items if you have lived with them for a while? Be really careful of what you are getting
into. I suggest that you keep your purpose clear.

If you are going in as a tourist or for a short-term teaching assignment, get the tourist visa. I wanted to stay longer. I had been playing a waiting game. I was trying to hold out for AMNESTY. That's where illegal aliens can get their visas converted to permanent visas. This takes time though and usually happens every 4 or 8 years.

Nevertheless, as soon as immigration came to my door, I told myself that I was going to make sure that this does not happen to another ESL teacher wanting to teach in Brazil. It's just not worth it. Or you may decide that it is and live with the daily stress of trying to resolve your visa situation. Your life is worth more than that.

Talking to a lawyer is another option as suggested by Carl. However, I would not go down with that idea unless you are well-established financially. I will talk about that later.


That happened anyway, after a prepaid 1 1/2 apartment lease (signed and in the presence of a witness) was broken. The landlord said that he would rent out the apartment with my furniture and start paying back the money. He gave me his word. That has not happened and the other people involved do not seem to care. As Carl mentioned, this is an element that you might have to learn as you go down there. Many Brazilians will be happy to have you in their countries, but others will try to suck you for everything you are worth. Some people view you as stupid when you are really going through cross-cultural adaption. Several times, people have tried to rob or burglarize me. Be careful of who you walk with. Part of the reason is the lifestyle that we are so accustomed to living as foreigners. If you go down there with a laptop and a friend of yours from a lower-income background doesn't have one, for example, he or she will be easily impressed. A laptop in Brazil would cost someone 2 years of there salary if they were working at minimum wage. Keep everything under lock and key, and as many Brazilians advised me, DON'T LET PEOPLE INTO YOUR APARTMENT/HOUSE TOO SOON. I even know of a case where a relative of a host family stole from a foreign teacher that I was friends with.


A GREAT SOLUTION: APPLY TO IICA. This is a Brazilian-American Exchange program. It's excellent, though you might not be placed in the city of your choice. I have lived in Brazil for 2 years over 3 different times. The 2nd time was the only time I was even there under the temporary visa. The 1st and 3rd times were as a tourist.

Talk to Professor Jacy Pimenta [email protected] is his email. I know him very well and he is like an old friend now. GIVE HIM MY NAME and that I HIGHLY-SUGGESTED the program and THAT YOU THINK IT WOULD BE A WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE. If you do that, you will be in the door. I highly recommend the program. You will earn from about US$450-$600 a month. Be careful, however, because as the dollar fluctuates in relation to the Brazilian currency (real), so can your salary. That's what happened to us. It angered some trainees (I, in particular, made a big fuss about it), but in light of the other benefits, it is still worth it. You will earn another ESL certificate, a salary, and be placed with a family, really experience Brazilian culture, and become more proficient in Portuguese.

There is a placement fee, but in return you will have the proper visa (temporary), which means that you can open a bank account, get a CPF (which is like having a Social Security card, but more for financial purposes), and you will be able to stay from 6 to 18 months!

If you really want to stay in Brazil after that experience, then you should return to your respective country and return to Brazil on another temporary visa, but go back as a student studying Portuguese through the language school in which you taught at, or at a Brazilian university. Make contacts while you are down there. This is a highly-successful method. Here's why. You will be able to stay as a student and CONVERT THAT VISA to a PERMANENT one. It was Carvalho, a Federal Police Officer, and his very attractive female partner (I wanted her to take me away), who told me to actually do this on my next trip. The Federal Police were very friendly and they sympathized with me.

Beware of the private Portuguese Language schools that cater to tourists because they try to suck your money. They charge US$500 a week or more for example. If you are just on vacation, go ahead and do that. Otherwise, think like a local. Don't get trapped.


Do whatever you can by yourself. That's right. If you ever have to leave Brazil, make sure that you settle your business, sell what you need to sell, and/or end your apartment contract if you aren't coming back. Unfortunately, my dog (due to an accident- I was told to have him stay for a shortwhile), and some possessions of mine are still down there with well-meaning friends. There are 4 people that owe me money for prepaid rent, musical equipment, and electronic equipment. When someone says, “I will pay you later, or pays you in portions…” DON'T SELL IT. Remember, to think of the LONG-TERM CONSEQUENCES of what you are doing.

I probably will not see that US$2,000 or more again, but the lessons I have learned are worth it. The same man who owes me for the apartment and its possessions also wants to open a school with me in 2 years. What do you think I am going to do? Always see problems and challenges, as opportunities as growth. If you do better in the future, you have learned something.


My experiences have taught me that you should take care of your financial health. SAVE MONEY. You know from all the other postings that you read that you need money. I plan to work in Asia, Africa, and/or the Middle East for a while, save up and buy an apartment in Brazil, and then teach there again. Once you get locked into the system it becomes harder to get out. You will be a valuable commodity being a foreigner, but your salary may not reflect your value. You know how much you need, but think short AND long-term. Think about your life goals and career goals. Yes, having many girlfriends (or boyfriends), being popular, and/or having fun is great, but also think about your pocket book. You will be more attractive if you are financially sound. If you have money and you are in Brazil, you can do very well. There are many creative ideas that you can come up with, after you have settled your visa.

You can open your own ESL school (Brazilian law says that you have to have a Brazilian partner with 50% control), work for a foreign multinational company, work for an American School (more difficult), etc.

I would also suggest NOT leaving your current job. Check out Brazil as a vacation. I left a wonderful, financially-rewarding university teaching position with an excellent staff, in the United States to return to Brazil and cannot get it back now. This kind of stopping and starting can interfere with your decision-making. I do not regret that I did what I did because I learned a lot through the experiences. At times, we do seemingly "off-the-wall" things as ESL teachers, but that is because we feel we need to hear our internal selves.

**An exception would be if you are going there as a Mormon or Christian missionary. I have met many missionaries doing there 2 years there. They obviously are not there for the money. In fact, if you go in on such a visa, it is EASIER to get the permanent visa later on. I do not know much in this area, but you should do a websearch.


Make sure you know how and where you want to live. Why are you going to Brazil? Is it to run away from a problem at home? Curiosity? If you stay, how will you start up? Do you know anyone there? What I did to meet people in Salvador was call language schools from the US. I met a wonderful secretary and her family helped me for a short-time. Her family became a kind of 2nd family to me.

What I have learned as a psychologist, musician/singer/songwriter, ESL teacher, and human being is that you should see the big picture of your life. Set standards and don't allow yourself to get bullied around.


What do you do if you have to return? After having returned to the US, my father helped buy me a car, but I have been looking for work for 3 months now. It hasn't been easy. Do not forget what happens when the "party is over". Now, I could just go back through the exchange program, but notice how my focus has changed to my finances. Remember, for about $20,000 you can buy a very nice apartment, and/or house. To earn that kind of money in Brazil, I might need to work 6-12 years, depending on where I teach English. In the US, you might need to work 1 to 3 years to save that. Do you see how time CAN BE SEEN AS MONEY? Of course, I do not mean to discourage you, but also think about that. I would like to slowly buy property in Brazil and then make the final move. I know many foreigners who go there with money (like $60,000 and up), and start their lives through investments in small businesses. Since we are ESL teachers, we need to pay even more attention than such people.

Remember, it takes money to generate money, and in a fluctuating Brazilian economy, you need to be prepared. In being prepared, I wanted to tell you that in my experience as a musician who likes to sing international music, as well as original music, I have performed in Brazil. The uncertainty of the visa situation, however, dampened some of my personal and creative efforts. Don‘t let that happen to you. Take care of yourself and what you love to do.
Thanks again Dave for this wonderful service!
Happy New Year!

Northwest Indiana Area, United States of America
January 4, 2003
Email: [email protected]
Posted: January 4, 2003
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Joined: 05 Apr 2005
Posts: 48
Location: Brazil

PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2005 2:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Beware of the private Portuguese Language schools that cater to tourists because they try to suck your money. They charge US$500 a week or more for example. If you are just on vacation, go ahead and do that. Otherwise, think like a local. Don't get trapped]

I have to agree..this happened to me....And I also worked at the school, every month there was a problem with my month it was because I wrote the date-mm/dd/yyxx...and in Brazil they write...dd/mm/yyxx, they said they new the correct date but I wrote the wrong date, and they could pay be for what I wrote....(I changed on the time paper but she said it was too late, she would have to pay me the next month...the next month she forgot....and Im still waiting....I dont teach or take classes there anymore)

If you want to study I would suggest taking class at the University. The best one in Brazil is UFRGS it is in Porto Alegre...(the very south of Brazil)
I took classes there and I met many people from all over the world, taking these classes.

You will be very surprised how little it takes for some people to be impressed. If you are an American there are many people (mostly girls) that will try to talk to you....Brazilian girls LOVE American men, but I agree be carefull some of these girls want a green card they do not want to stay in Brazil. Most of them think life in the USA is sooooooo easy. Dont miss understand live in Brazil isnt hard, it will just be a change from the norm....they dont do anything here in the "norm."

Brazil is a great country, it just has a few problems. Most Brazilians I know have been OK....some are better then the friends I had in the states...but I have had a few..(one or two) that just wanted to use me. They think "OH, an American, he/she must be rich." In my case this is far from the truth. Just watch how they talk and what they ask and want to know about you. Becarefull of places you go, dont go down town 230am and think you will be safe....chances are you will not. POA is very safe during the day but at night in places you have to watch yourself.

If anyone come to POA let me know I will try to help with telling you what I [email protected][/quote]
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