How to Get a Student Visa to Study Portuguese

What if I told you that you could easily live in Brazil and study Portuguese 4 hours a week from a known University?

You would get to stay in Brazil on a student visa, learn the language you already want to and extend your visa as many times as you need!

This is known as the “Secret Permanent Residence Visa” and is easier to get then you think.

Let me bring you through the step-by-step help so that you can get closer to your dreams.

But First, A Little “WHY”

Yesterday on my Facebook page, I asked the following question:

And to my surprise, I got the following answers right away (the name “Jonathan IfeelReally White” still cracks me up!):

What stood out to me was Travis’ answer (highlighted above).  Having gone through this myself, I can really identify with this feeling of wanting and needing to move to Brazil.  Carrying that feeling around on a daily basis weighs on you and makes you feel as if you are missing your full potential.

So I officially dedicate this post to you Travis!

How Does a Student Visa to Study Portuguese Work?

Traditionally, a student visa is given to a foreigner who is accepted by an accredited Brazilian University to study under an undergraduate or graduate program.

The university would then send you a notarized letter of acceptance that you would bring to the consulate in your home country and apply for a student visa there.

This would mean that you would have to study full time and be enrolled full time ($$) at a Brazilian university.

That’s a lot of time and money if you really only want to learn Portuguese and live in Brazil…

These same universities offer Portuguese for Foreigners



Fortunately, these same big-name Universities in Brazil offer Portuguese courses for foreigners at the normal student rate.

And since the main requirement to get a student visa is that you are enrolled at a Brazilian university, these Portuguese courses can be done on a part time basis.

This is a win-win situation as it’s cheap and easy for you to get a student visa, and the University makes a bit of money by “hooking you up”.

Oh, and this student visa is easily extendable from within Brazil as long as you are enrolled in the class!

How do I find a University Offering Portuguese Classes

Let me guide you through the steps in finding a University offering Portuguese classes:

  1. Find a known Brazilian University ()
  2. See if they offer Portuguese for Foreigners.
  3. Contact them to let them know you are interested and to start the process of enrolling you.

The university will send you a package of paperwork that you will need to fill out and send to them.

After the initial fee for the course has been paid, they will send you a notarized letter of acceptance, which is what you will use to get the student visa from your local consulate.

Cost, duration and Other Requirements



You can expect to pay around R$2,000 for a 4 month, part time course (4 hours a week) – which is around $1,000 US dollars.

You can then re-enroll each semester as long as they allow and then extend your Student Visa.

Important “other” requirements



Be aware that some universities will only give you Portuguese classes if you are enrolled in their other study programs.

And on the other side of the spectrum are universities that require that you have some type of degree to enroll in the classes, though there are exceptions.

If you enroll at for their Portuguese for foreigners class, they don’t require you to have a degree and the price is very reasonable (around R$1,700 I believe).

How To Apply for a Student Visa

Once you have signed up for your Portuguese for foreigners course, the University will send you a notarized letter of acceptance.

This notarized letter of acceptance (which will probably take a few weeks to arrive) is what you will use to apply for the Student Visa IV from your home country – you are not allowed to apply for this visa from Brazil.

Here are the main documents you need to get the visa:

  1. The notarized letter of acceptance showing your name, duration of the class and hours.
  2. Proof of financial means showing that you can support yourself (around $2,000 a month for the duration of the course) or have someone support you (think: a parent’s bank account statement with that amount in it)
  3. Your flight itinerary showing the departure and return dates (it doesn’t have to be the actual tickets, it can be just an itinerary from a travel agent.)
  4. Background clearance showing that you aren’t a criminal.
  5. Proof of Residence which can be a drivers license.

There are other forms and simpler documents you will need to submit, you can check those out on (affiliate link).

Note: I recommend using Travisa if you reside within the USA, they will do good by you and make your life easy!

Once you have received your visa, you must leave within 90 days, the visa clock starts ticking as soon as you arrive in Brazil.

Quick Tip: the entire process of applying for a student visa can take between 2-3 months, so make sure you give yourself good time.

Renewing Your Student Visa

When you first get your Student Visa IV, it will be for 1 year by default and you can expect the consulate to write a new number in the “prazo” field which covers your course and maybe a little bit more.

This is to keep people from just signing up for Portuguese classes and then dropping them.

So what you do is after your Portuguese course is coming to an end, you sign up for the next semester’s classes.

Then take this next letter of acceptance to the Federal Police and have them renew your visa from within Brazil.

You can expect to get a 6-month renewal per time.

Final Words and a Must Know Advice

If for some reason you are having difficulty finding a University that will accept you, then think about some private schools.

These can be language schools that offer Portuguese for foreigners (like the English schools that Brazilians go to), some of them can give you a letter of acceptance.

And lastly, if you need more inspiration about a student visa from someone who has been there and done that, then I would recommend that you check Joe Naab’s book.

In his book, he not only covers how he obtained and lived on a student visa for a long time, but also other important aspects of living in Brazil.  So make sure you check out his book Brazil for Life (affiliate link).

Do you have any experiences or questions to share about a Student Visa?  Please comment below.

Valeu – cheers!

Kevin

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  • but if you pay for one module which is about 3 weeks does that not mean your visa will be only like a month?

      • Is this still true? I just called PUC-SP and they told me the visa would only last for the duration of the course, which in this case was only one month. Thanks!

        • Heya I was just wondering if you had any luck with PUC? I’m looking into it too and would like to know if it’s possible to get the full 6 months + extensions, any info much appreciated, thankksss

          • Hi, I ended up returning to the US for some family reasons. I never got a clear answer from the Brazilian consulate or Foreigner Department.

          • oh no sorry to hear that. That is a bit annoying you didn’t receive a clear answer from anybody. I heard that it’s best to apply for a student visa from your home country, perhaps the embassy is worht talking to.. I’m going to try and email the PUC this week to try and get some info or maybe some other uni’s in SP

  • on the brazil-british consulate website it says that a student visa would mean you have to study minimum 15 hours a week, but your article says 4… is this because it’s different for americans perhaps? in the same section on the website it also says that the letter confirming my attendance by the university only needs to say that i have been accepted, the duration of the course and the date of the begin and end, so maybe this means i can get away with it? who knows, give me a shout if you have any ideas

    • Nope, it’s because of the Brazilian “jeitinho” hehe.

      This basically means that they school states that you are going 15 hours per week but in reality you’re not 😉

      Welcome to Brazilian rules!

      • Ah I see, thats useful to know – is it a bit risky though? Parting with the money to pay for the course to then have a letter that confirms my attendance but actually says 7 hours (in-case they don’t put 15)

        • Only do it if the school guarantees it. Otherwise then the consulate could stick it to you.

          I.E. it has to say on the letter of invitation that you are studying 15 per week.

          FYI: never pay the course in full up front, pay a downpayment (you know to get the ball rolling with the paperwork) and rest when you arrive!

  • I AM REALLY INTERESTED… I LOVE BRAZIL… BUT I DO NOT KNOW WHAT I WILL DO, AFTER YOU GET ACCEPTED AND YOU GET TO BRAZIL, HOW PEOPLE SURVIVE THERE? I WILL BE SO LOST TO GET THERE AND NOT KNOW WHAT OR WHERE TO GO.. HOW THAT WORKS

  • Kevin, I am in Florianopolis and I have student visa which expires March 2014. I enrolled portuguese for foreigners in UFSC but recently they changed the rules and requires 20 hours a week of class to get the visa. This means they can’t give me the extension when my visa expires in March.

    Do you have any suggestion? Do you know any other school that can give me student visa?

    For the moment my solution is to become illegal until we have a baby with my partner.

    PS. Both of us are in the same boat.

  • When you say “after your Portuguese course is coming to an end, you sign up for the next semester’s classes ?” Your just re-taking the same course over again?

  • Hey there. Great article, Im glad I found it. I want to go to Fortaleza and study Portuguese… Problem is: at the BR consulate in Barcelona they say they dont know, they cant help me; I searched contacts of universities in Fortaleza and: no answers from emails, dont pick up the phones, UNIFOR answered but the 4 people I talked to (actually my Brazilian friend did), they say they dont have programs and they dont know anything about certified programs to do that. What do I do???!! Im freaking out. The BR consulate they dont attend you without a reservation online, and online they ask you to put in the documents from the University already. Im Romanian living in Barcelona by the way. Probably that make it all the more screwed up!? If the Federal University has no idea what Im saying, who does?

  • Hello everyone!
    I work for a Portuguese school in Brazil present in Rio and Sao Paulo. The school is called aprenda2.org.
    I’d like to let you guys know that this school is able to provide student visas for the people who want to learn portuguese.
    Regards,

    • hello, I’m really interested in studying in Brazil. I read your post that you wrote “school” But I interested in university in Rio De J, So Is there a university in Rio for international student? especially, full time student, so is it possible to study at there? I know portuguese a little bit, And how about price? Is it expensive? I think i can live at my friend’s home; she lives in Rio De J. Thank you.
      Sincere,

      • I believe you can study at UNIVERSIDADE FEDERAL DO RIO DE JANEIRO as known as UFRJ. I don’t know much information a about their process. However it’s the main university in Rio and one of the best in the country. Regards.

        • Oh thank you! There is no english in UFRJ website, so I think I have to speak portuguese influent. Right?? Regards.

  • My school in Curitiba, Celin said that I am legally allowed to stay in Brasil with my student visa as long as I am studying 60hours per module. Each lasting 2 months with a 3 week break in between until the next. 60 hours is only 7.5 hours per week.

    This sounded like a great option to me considering that the 60 hour class is half the price of the 100 hour class I am currently taking. CATCH IS, they only offer the 60 hour class in high advanced level Portuguese classes. I am intermediate. So that doesn’t work for me…. I could take some time off, but I’d still have to pay for the 100 hour course and be enrolled and meet the minimum of 60 hours of attendance.

    Any suggestions for other schools in Curitiba that I could study at that would allow me to study less hours per week for less than R$550 a month. That’s what I am currently paying for 15 hours of language classes per week.

    I am willing to take almost anything that will get me the student visa for less money and less hours. Such as Brasilian music/singing courses, art, sports, media, language, etc.

    Please let me know if you guys have any ideas! Thanks!

    • Hi Natasha,
      I am super interested in the answer to this question as well, since I loved living in Curitiba and really want to come back on a student visa. My Portuguese is pretty good, perhaps bordering on advanced, but I would be concerned about not placing into that section, since $R1.100 for 2 months of classes seems pretty expensive to me! Also, Celin doesn’t even publish this 60-hour class on their website (maybe because they didn’t have at least 8 students to fill the section?), so that makes me nervous.
      Have you thought about doing a pos-graduacao at UFPR, PUCPR, or one of the other universities there? Would it be possible to get accepted into one of those, visit the PF with your letter, and extend the visa without leaving Brazil? I had thought about this in case I end up wanting to do a Master’s degree the next time I come there, probably at UFSC in Floripa…
      Let me know if you figure something out! Curitiba has a lot of language schools too, it would just be a matter of finding one that would write a letter and doesn’t charge “os olhos da cara”, ne? Boa sorte!

    • I wonder why we need to go through all this stress. What is the point in going through all this? If we live here in Brazil, we bring our money, we spend it, and we have fun. As long as you are in Brazil, you will learn some Portuguese. They need English. And they need our money. So why all this stress? I wish I could waive this student’s visa thing and be free. But it seem there is no other option!

  • Oi, I live in Thailand, and I’m interested in studying bachelor degree which is Biomedical science in Brazil, especially Rio De Janeiro. I already graduated from high school, now I’m studying at pre-college; almost get in college.. But I realised that I really want to study at Brazil. Is it possible for me to be a full time students at there? And how about the tuition for international student per semester? Moreover, I have friend’s that lives in Rio De Janeiro, perhaps, I can live at her home for months, and after that I would find the dorm. I have been searching universities in Rio De Janeiro for a while, but still don’t get it. One of them is UNICAMP that replied my email, I have to speak portuguese influent because all course are taught in portuguese, however, it would take a long time if I have to study portuguese at here. So Is it possible that takes a portuguese course in university at Brazil like for only foreigners? and what if every course at there is taught in portuguese, what should I do? I really want to go there!

    Please help me. Sincere

    • Hi!
      For study in an federal university of Brazil, you have to learn portuguese, and make an exam, call ”ENEM” (National Secondary school exam).
      The best universities in Rio de Janeiro: UFRJ (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro), UERJ (State University of Rio de Janeiro), and PUC-RJ (Catholic, and payed).
      The ENEM is based on secondary school knowledge, and you can get prepared by making an preparation course for it (in Brazil, or online).
      You can visit the ”QS University Ranking” and check the best colleges in Brazil. UFRJ is one of the best universities of latin america, and the world.
      Good Luck!

    • Hi!
      For study in an federal university of Brazil, you have to learn portuguese, and make an exam, call ”ENEM” (National Secondary school exam).
      The best universities in Rio de Janeiro: UFRJ (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro), UERJ (State University of Rio de Janeiro), and PUC-RJ (Catholic, and payed).
      The ENEM is based on secondary school knowledge, and you can get prepared by making an preparation course for it (in Brazil, or online).
      You can visit the ”QS University Ranking” and check the best colleges in Brazil. UFRJ is one of the best universities of latin america, and the world.
      But the university will probably ask for an basic level of portuguese, so you can make an portuguese course, and live in Brasil for an cultural exchange.
      Good Luck!

    • Hi!
      For study in a federal university of Brazil, you have to learn portuguese, and make an exam, call ”ENEM” (National Secondary school exam).
      The best universities in Rio de Janeiro: UFRJ (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro), UERJ (State University of Rio de Janeiro), and PUC-RJ (Catholic, and payed).
      The federal goverment of Brazil have an educational program called ”PEC-G”, that help students for emerging countries (including Thailand), with financial help.
      The ENEM is based on secondary school knowledge, and you can get prepared by making an preparation course for it (in Brazil, or online).
      You can visit the ”QS University Ranking” and check the best colleges in Brazil. UFRJ is one of the best universities of latin america, and the world.
      But the university will probably ask for an basic level of portuguese, so you can make an portuguese course, and live in Brasil for an cultural exchange.
      Good Luck!

  • Hello friends looking to study abroad in Brazil. I am American and have gone through this entire student visa process and I know how many of you may have a million questions. I study / live in São Paulo at Mackenzie for just 3 hours a week of study. feel free to email me at . (My knowledge only pertains mainly to Americans, though anyone looking to study in São Paulo i can also help)

  • Thank you for this great post. I would love to study in Florianopolis but can’t seem to get in touch with schools to start the enrollment process. I have searched for contact info but when I send an email I get no response. Is there an affordable school that you know of where I can do the 4 hours a week? If so, any advice or contact info for a non-portuguese speaker? Thanks.

  • Olá Kevin,

    Tudo bem?

    I just wanted to ask you if you know some people who have done this in Rio de Janeiro. I see that PUC SP offers this package, however in RJ it states on their website that their ‘extension course does not give you the right to obtain a student visa’. Are their any other schools in RJ that offers this with reasonable pricing? I can’t seem to find any on the internet.

    Thank you in advance,
    Margot!

    • You might have to ask around the different language schools and unis in RJ to find one that is willing… I imagine if they are, it won’t be plastered on their website!

      • Hi Christian,

        Thanks for your help. I have sent almost every school in Rio an email, however I did not get any positive answers. If someone else has advice on this, any help is welcome.

        Thank you!

  • Hi ! I live in Pakistan I am interested to study portuguese language, Please advice me on How to apply Thanks

  • Oi,
    I want to learn portuguese in Curitiba.
    The problem: I’m a german on a trip around the world… so I’m not in my country for a few months to apply for a special visa …and my flight starts in two weeks.
    My girlfriend lives in Curitiba and I will stay at her place for a half year or something like this. In this time I really want to learn the language as good as possible.
    The problem like always….to expensive classes are not and option.

    Maybe someone can give me some advice or recommend a place?

    Thank you!!! 😉

  • Hi,

    in a few weeks I fly to Curitiba to visit my girlfriend for a longer time…. At this moment I’m on a big trip and was the last few months not in my country (germany).
    I really want to learn portuguese, but I’m not a student and I don’t have the opportunity to go to germany for any special Visa 🙁 …and like everyone: I dont have so much money. So I need something like a class.

    Anyone with some suggestions or anyone who can held me with my little problem?

    Many thanks,
    Sascha

  • Hello guys!
    My name is Alessandro and I work for a Portuguese language school in Rio and Sao Paulo. Our school can provide a Student visa. I already posted before here at this forum. However, the school has just published all the details about the Student Visa process at its blog:

    I hope it can help.
    Big hugs, Alessandro.

  • Hey guys, my tourist visa will expire soon and I’m looking to sign up to the Portuguese para estrangeiros course at PUC. I read above that the process for sorting the student visa has to be done from my home country in the UK. Have you heard of the process being started from inside Brazil somehow and then collecting the visa from a neighbouring country like Uruguay or Argentina?

    Also, the background check. Are you certain that this has to be one from your home country or can i collect something from my consulate?

    Great website and thanks for the info!

    • Hi Rob, I applied for my student visa in Buenos Aires, but I had to be prepared. I went to Brazil to get my visa letter from the university, but then I went to Argentina to do the application. You will find that most documents issued in the UK have to be legalised by the Brazilian embassy in London (because it’s a UK-issued document) – e.g. bank statements, declaration of financial responsibility, birth certificate, etc. So you need to keep this in mind. No, you can’t get your police check done at the embassy, you order it here: If you have a friend in the UK who can help you with this stuff, you might be able to get it all done from abroad, but it’s a handful! Here is what you need in Argentina:

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