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Brazil Travel Problem
Old 02-28-2012, 04:05 PM   #1
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Brazil Travel Problem

Here's a situation my son and his family just encountered that sounds too outrageous to be true:

Background - my son married a woman from Brazil 4 years ago while she was here in the US doing post doc research. She now has her green card and has lived in the US ever since. Just over a year ago they had our first grandchild, Serena. Serena has dual US and Brazilian citizenship and passports.

In December the three of them went to Brazil for an extended visit with her family. My son came back in late January due to work commitments while mother and child stayed for another month.

Yesterday, when mom and baby went to the airport for their flight back home to the US they were refused boarding. Apparently there is a new law in Brazil intended to prevent estranged spouses from taking a child out of the country without the other parent's authorization. My son was aware of this law before they went to Brazil and asked the airline what documentation would be needed. He was told that a notarized letter from him giving permission for Serena's travel back to the US would be required. Therefore, our DIL had such a letter in her possession that they had prepared in the US before they went to Brazil.

Now they are being told that the letter would have to be notarized in Brazil with both of them present. Alternatively, the letter could be notarized for DIL's signature in Brazil, and then be sent to the Brazilian consulate in Atlanta. My son would have to make an appointment to go to Atlanta to have the letter notarized (20 days to get an appointment) and then send it back to Brazil.

The only other option is for my son to fly to Brazil and accompany DIL and Serena home. If she is travelling with both parents there are no restrictions.

Therefore, my son has bought a very expensive ticket and is flying to Brazil tomorrow to rescue his wife and daughter.

I almost can't believe this is going on. However, with all the travel and immigration issues that they had to deal with to get DIL her green card and to deal with various visa issues related to her job it is clear that Brazil, despite its recent economic progress, is still largely a third world country.

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Old 02-28-2012, 04:19 PM   #2
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Sounds normal. Even a US authority might not recognize a "notary" from some foreign country. There really is no way to tell if such a thing would be fake or not. Thus often for these kinds of things, there are "approved" methods that many people are not aware of, such as a consulate stamp, special visa, etc.

Anyways, maybe he could've gotten a less expensive ticket by going in a couple of weeks or so. Be sure to stay over a Saturday, too.

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Old 02-28-2012, 04:48 PM   #3
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Sorry to hear about your problems, grumpy. An unplanned expense and unnecessary travel, but hopefully it will end well.
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Old 02-28-2012, 05:15 PM   #4
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Very difficult situation, and they certainly have my sympathy.
However, I'm not terribly surprised.
I lived in Brazil for a number of years back in the 1980s, and I saw firsthand what causes this sort of problem.

First, you have to realize that the Brazilian government, while relatively free of corruption at most lower levels, is incredibly bureaucratic and inflexible.

Second, they (like several other countries) were severely castigated in international forums for laxity in adoption proceedings. While this situation doesn't involve an adoption, the bureaucrats might easily see it as a marriage of convenience that went awry. They would be wrong, of course, but try arguing with a bureaucrat who has an obscurely worded law to back him up.

I had my share of bureaucratic problems despite holding a US diplomatic passport, so I'm surprised by nothing that occurs in South America.

Finally, I would at least take some comfort in the fact that that they offered an easy (albeit expensive) way out of the dilemma.

I love Brazil, and the Brazilian people, almost as much as I love this country, but it's simply a fact that they can be a royal pain in the @$$ if they want to.
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Old 02-28-2012, 07:19 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by braumeister View Post
I love Brazil, and the Brazilian people, almost as much as I love this country, but it's simply a fact that they can be a royal pain in the @$$ if they want to.
That was very well said and reflects my sentiment too.
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Old 02-28-2012, 07:44 PM   #6
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I remember when the US all-of-a-sudden decided that French citizens needed to get a visa before coming to the US instead of the visa-waiver program (or something like that). In retaliation, France required US citizens to get a visa to get into France. Luckily, I lived near a consulate, but what a PITA because they didn't want to speak English in the consulate which was rather amusing to me.

Anyways, you never know what a country (including the US) is gonna do with foreigners.
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Old 02-28-2012, 07:59 PM   #7
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That's too bad. I just read the US state department's website re minor children traveling to/from Brazil, and it says the notarized letter has to be written in Portuguese and notarized by a Brazilian notary (the notary can be in the US but has to be authorized by Brazil). Clear but still complicated. And no doubt subject to the whim of the officials on the ground in Brazil.
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Old 02-29-2012, 02:02 AM   #8
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Immigration officials everywhere are tough to deal with. I know that from personal experience living and working in Japan and Asia, with a Japanese wife who is a US green card holder. Unfortunately, in order to deal with the illegal and unethical issues that all too many n'er do goods perpetuate, those who strive to follow the law, as in Grumpy's son's case, will, from time to time, find that things are difficult and expensive to deal with. Right now, for example, my DW is in the US going thru the necessary hoops to get her re-entry permit renewed. This time it was a 6 week process as we are having the new permit sent to the local US embassy for her to pick up, and she comes back to Tokyo on Saturday. While we wait for the new one, it is advised that she either not travel to the US, or at least not travel without me. Last time, two years ago, she waited until the permit was issued...3 months! The cost was $480.

I have the equivalent of a US green card in Japan. It takes me 15 minutes to get my re-entry permit. The cost? $40. Not a typo. Japan used to be very backwards in immigration issues, but if you asked me now, I'd say they are first rate, compared to what I see when I travel. About 2 months ago, I flew thru Norway to Berlin. Since it was the first stop in the EU, I had to go thru immigration. Several planes must have landed at the same time, and the line I was in had about 50 people in it. The immigration officers, in all the lines, were averaging 4-5 minutes per head to clear. I barely made my next flight, and I had a nearly 4 hour layover. In Japan, 30-45 seconds per head.

International marriages and work arrangements combined with immigration issues can lead to a lot of stress. When we are done here, DW will be doing the required time for her US citizenship, which will save a load of hassles. Grumpy, you may want to have your DS look into what happens to family assets in the case of DS's early demise...this is the other reason my DW will be taking US citizenship.

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Old 02-29-2012, 10:04 AM   #9
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This would occur in any country that had signed onto the Hague convention. It is more of a problem with Brazil now that USA citizens need a visa to go there. If you remember this was not the case until the USA pilot "flipped the Bird" at customs video surveillance.

Generally, the problem is more with the carrier as they must "foot the bill" for return flight if you are denied entry. Last time I traveled from the USA with my family to Peru, the airline wanted to deny my boarding for a "missing stamp" on my Peruvian document. I explained it away to their satisfaction and boarded the plane. Upon arrival in Peru I was almost denied entry for the same reason. As I have multiple passports, I can travel from any country (except USA) into Brazil without a Visa.
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Old 03-12-2012, 03:09 PM   #10
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Having lived in five countries, I can confirm what Rambler said about Immigration officials (almost) everywhere being tough to deal with. In this globalized world, the Brazilian legislation on minors travelling with one of the parents was tightened as a result of a number of incidents involving divorced couples from different countries where one parent "kidnapped" their child away from the other parent.
Unfortunately legislation and regulation tends to get tighter with time in response to incidents. Only rarely do authorities make a conscious effort to make things easier...

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