The Government of Brazil has extended until 2022 a waiver whereby Venezuelans seeking shelter may find it easier to settle in South America's largest country, it was announced Friday.
The administration of President Jair Bolsonaro thus moved towards increasing the number of migrants admitted as residents and reducing the number of those recognized as refugees.
The so-called “simplified refugee recognition process,” in force since June 2019 and expiring in August 2021, has been extended until December next year, according to Brazil's National Committee for Refugees (Conare)
The measure allows Brazil to grant refuge to any Venezuelan fleeing their country without having to prove that they are in fact suffering some kind of persecution, which facilitates and speeds up a process which can usually take months.
Under normal conditions, refugee status is granted to foreigners who have fled their country of origin due to well-founded fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or for belonging to a certain social group.
But in June 2019, the Brazilian government classified Venezuela as a country in a situation of serious and generalized violation of human rights, which allowed migrants to skip that bureaucratic requirement to be allowed in as refugees.
According to Brazil's Ministry of Justice, this criterion has allowed Brazil to recognize nearly 50,000 Venezuelans as refugees until last June.
Its extension reinforces the position of the Brazilian government to offer humanitarian welcome to our neighbors in the face of the serious crisis that Venezuela has suffered in recent years, Justice Minister Anderson Torres said in a statement.
Meanwhile Justice Secretary Vicente Santini recalled that Brazil has recognized some 73,500 foreigners as refugees since 2016, 60,000 of them over the past 2 years, and that the extension of the measure will favor a similar number of Venezuelans .
About 73,000 new refugee requests from Venezuelans will be analyzed with this criterion, Santini explained.
Another measure announced last March allows Venezuelans entering the country to use any identity document, even if it is not valid, to seek residence in Brazilian territory.
The move seeks to simplify the procedures required to obtain a residence permit in Brazil and the documentation that allows Venezuelans to work and access public services in the country.
This measure was adopted with the intention of increasing the number of Venezuelans admitted as residents and reducing the number of recognized refugees, whose status is regulated by an international convention and has more restrictions.
Last year, Conare received 15,538 refugee requests from Venezuelans, which is equivalent to 58.25% of the total requests received by Brazil from foreigners who say they are being persecuted.
According to official data, some 262,500 Venezuelan immigrants live in Brazil and the vast majority of them have arrived in the last 5 years through the land border.
According to the UN, some 4 million Venezuelans have left their country since the end of 2015, in one of the largest migratory flows on the planet.