- Rafael Barifauz
- From BBC News Brazil to Sao Paulo
Student Ana Lais Scarpa was once standing in line at a supermarket in Arsignano, where she lives in northern Italy with a population of 25,000, when she heard something familiar.
“There was a woman there who spoke Portuguese. I waited for her to finish and joked: “Wow, there are a lot of Brazilians here, right?!” It happened a few times,” she says.
Ana moved there last September to work as a nanny and apply for Italian citizenship – on the other hand, her great-great-grandfather emigrated from Italy to Brazil in the late 19th century.
The desire to do this appeared when the pandemic began. She decided she no longer wanted to go to Belo Horizonte, where she studied nutrition at the Federal University of Minas Gerais.
To the lack of prospects was added a craving for travel and acquaintance with new cultures.
“I was going to graduate, earn little, with little chance of growth,” says the 22-year-old student, who is now studying economics for free because she is Italian and has a low income.
“What attracted me to Italy was the opportunity to be here as a citizen, with all the rights. And here you have many opportunities and quality of life. There are also problems, but not the same as in Brazil, where the situation is bad now. very difficult, especially for those who are young.”
In Arsignano she met several other Brazilians who had also left Brazil for Italy.
“Most of the foreigners here are Indians, but we joke that the Brazilians almost outnumber the Indians,” says Ana.
Her experience is reflected in official figures from the Brazilian government.
The most recent poll by Itamaraty shows that the size of the Brazilian community in Italy has almost doubled in the two years that President Jair Bolsonaro (no party) attends the G20 meeting over the weekend.
There were 85,700 Brazilians in the country in 2018 and 161,000 in 2020, an 88% increase.
The figures are an estimate by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which takes into account the records of Brazilian consulates, data from other national authorities such as the Federal Tax Service, and information from the Italian authorities.
That is, in practice, the numbers can be even higher.
crisis and pandemic
It is true that this phenomenon is not limited to Italy. Many people moved from Brazil during this period.
The number of Brazilians abroad increased from 3.59 million to 4.22 million, an increase of almost 18%. Compared to 2015, when the uptrend began, by 2020 the growth was 54%.
But Italy has been one of the main destinations for recent Brazilian immigrants. In 2018, the country had the 11th largest Brazilian community in the world. 6th in 2020.
This is also evidenced by the reports of several professionals who assist Brazilians in the immigration process.
“I started to feel this growth between the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019, and in 2020 it exploded and became even stronger this year,” says Anna Catarina Vieira, a lawyer specializing in citizenship processes.
She says that one of the reasons is the economic crisis that Brazil is going through. Many people have lost their jobs and decided to try a new life on the street.
The pandemic and entry restrictions placed on Brazilians in many countries have also forced many people to return to the citizenship process in order to have an alternative travel passport.
“But most of my clients are parents who want their children to have the opportunity to study in Europe,” he says.
Lawyer Ana Paula Diaz Marquez, who specializes in immigration, has also noticed an increased demand for her services.
“I think this is due to the pandemic and the crisis that the country is going through. When people see that the crisis will take time to pass, that Brazil will take time to recover, they try to start life elsewhere,” he says. .
Brazilians will live in Italy to get citizenship
The advantage of Italy is that the granting of citizenship has no generational restrictions, as, for example, in Portugal, which allows it even for the grandchildren of the Portuguese.
For this reason, and also because there has been a lot of Italian immigration to Brazil in the past, many Brazilians are eligible for Italian citizenship, and after obtaining it, they can live in Italy.
“Today there are about 25 million descendants of Italians in Brazil,” explains Marquez.
Bolsonaro himself is of Italian origin and should receive the title of honorary citizen of Anguillar Veneta, the birthplace of his family, when visiting the country’s cities in the coming days.
There are three main ways for a Brazilian descendant to become an Italian citizen. The first is through the consulates of Brazil, where the queue of processes can reach ten years.
Or file a lawsuit in an Italian court, alleging that the consulates in Brazil do not comply with the statutory deadlines for processing requests. The decision is usually favorable and comes out on average in two to three years.
Or a faster option: move to Italy and apply to the local city hall. The smaller the city, the faster the process usually occurs. The wait is usually three to six months, but may be less.
The idea is to prevent these people from falling into the scams that the consulate says have become quite common.
“It’s a pity we didn’t come sooner”
Many people return to Brazil or move to other European countries after obtaining citizenship. Many also go to settle in Italy.
Adriana Pignatti arrived with her husband and two teenage daughters last February. They wanted to experience living abroad and give the girls the opportunity to study in another country.
They chose the very small town of Tuscania, with a population of just over 8,000, in the central region of the country.
At the end of July, she became an Italian citizen – the first in the family. His great-grandfather and great-grandfather were Italians.
Initially, the plans were to live in the north of the country, but they were unable to move due to restrictions imposed by the government to contain the pandemic.
Then they decided to settle in Viterbo, the capital of the same province where they lived and which is located 1:30 from Rome. “There are a lot of Brazilians here,” she says.
Adriana was a government employee and asked for unpaid leave. Today it provides services to Brazilians who wish to become Italian citizens. Her husband is a chef and teaches cooking classes.
A little over a year and a half after the move, they are happy with this decision.
“Here we earn little, but we live with dignity. It seems that the money brings more. The tax is high, but we have a quality of life, good free schools, medical services that do not cost absurd money, like in Brazil,” says Adriana.
“It’s a pity we didn’t come earlier.
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