The Brazilian government does not pursue an active immigration policy; although entry into Brazil is made easier for the highly qualified once they have been assessed by the National Immigration Council. The higher the school or university qualification, the more often a work or residence permit is granted, as figures from the Brazilian Ministry of Labour and Employment show for the years 2004 to 2007.
Current immigration policy is based on Law No. 6,815 of 19 August 1980. The "Foreigners´ Statute", which stems from the time of the military dictatorship, has been an object of dispute since the time it came into effect. Particular criticism is levelled at the contradiction between the law´s primary purpose of serving national security, thereby making immigration more difficult, and the valid constitution of 1988 which places special emphasis on the value of human beings and their fundamental rights. The constitution revokes numerous articles of the Foreigners´ Statute.
The 1980 law also created the National Immigration Council (Conselho Nacional de Imigração, CNIg) as a government body. It is responsible for formulating immigration policy and for the settlement of aliens. The Immigration Council is controlled by the Ministry of Labour and is composed of members of many other ministries, trade unions and associations. By dint of granting the seven types of visa and with the aid of 79 resolutions at present, it has an active influence on migration activity.
Current discussion questions whether the validity of the restrictive Foreigners´ Statute is one of the reasons why the hoped-for stronger immigration of qualified and entrepreneurial migrants has never materialised. Numerous attempts to bring about new legislation for foreign immigration, such as the proposed law No. 1813/19 introduced in 1991 by the executive in the National Congress (Congresso Nacional), have fallen afoul of complicated bureaucratic procedures and disputes in the Chamber of Deputies (Câmara dos Deputados).
The biggest regional migration to date arose in the 1960s, when the government of Paraguay recruited Brazilians for land ownership. Between 112,000 and a million Brazilians have remained in Paraguay to the present day as "Brasiguaios". It is difficult to estimate their number as many of them live in the border areas illegally.
In terms of numbers, interregional migration in Brazil today is determined above all by the Common Market of the South, Mercosur (Mercado Común del Sur). Mercosur was set up on the 26 March 1991 with the signing of the Treaty of Asunción by member states Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.
The consequences with regard to the mobility of workers initially received very little attention in negotiations over the free traffic of goods, services and factors of production in the Common Market. A series of measures, such as the 2002 Agreement on the Freedom of Movement and Establishment, have, however, improved the situation for "Mercosur migrants" in the meantime. The agreement was also signed by Chile and Bolivia. It operates along the lines of the EU Schengen Agreement and guarantees Mercosur citizens, natives of Chile and Bolivia automatic granting of a visa and free choice of domicile and place of work.
Migration between Argentina and Brazil is relatively high: in total 30,000 Argentinians and 35,000 Brazilians live in the respective other country with several tens of thousands of migrant workers and irregular migrants adding to those figures. Of the remaining South American countries such as Bolivia, Peru, Chile and Paraguay, most migrants migrate to metropolitan regions such as São Paulo. According to the "Social Panorama of Latin America 2007", interregional migration in Latin America continues to increase.