The trip is on!
After five months of effort by myself, the customer in Sao Jose dos Campos, two legal firms, the Brazilian Ministry of something or other and the Brazilian Consulate in Houston Texas, I finally have approval to enter Brazil and train a customer to use a product they purchased more than a year ago.
A visa, in case you don’t know, is permission from the issuing government to enter their country.
I’ve been told that, because the United States makes it hard for citizens of other countries to enter the US for work, other countries do the same to US citizens. When I go to Canada, for example, I am delayed at the border for 1-2 hours while they go through my papers, complain about this or that, but then finally let me in.
Brazil is harder, much harder.
First, the visa must be issued ahead of time. Flights leaving the US for Brazil won’t let you board if you don’t have it.
Second, if you are going to be working there and a Brazilian firm is paying — we charge for the training I provide so my work falls in that category — it’s a special visa, a “V Item V” visa.
To get one of these special visas, the customer, not us, must first get approval from some Brazilian Ministry to bring someone in from outside the country to train them. I guess the government wants to be certain a Brazilian can’t do the job.
The customer hired a legal firm to help them through the application process but, even so, getting that Ministry’s approval took several months. And that’s just the first step. Once the Ministry has approved the customer’s request, only then can I apply to a Brazilian Consulate in the United States for the actual visa, referencing the approval code from the Ministry, of course.
In my case, the entire process took five months.
When I finally received the coveted V Item V visa, the customer said, “Well, we did pay for the training almost a year ago so I guess you should come even though we’ve been using the product for a year. Maybe you’ll tell us something we haven’t already figured out.”
So, in the next couple of weeks, I’ll be headed first to Miami for a one-night layover before the flight to Sao Paulo. I’ll spend the night near that airport before taking a taxi (for about $150 US) out to Sao Jose dos Campos and the hotel from which I will then commute a short distance to the place rented by the customer that can supply the PCs we need. (Looking at the classroom in Google-Earth, I don’t think they’re rolling out the red carpet for this. I’ll have my work cut out for me trying to convince them it was money well spent, albeit with a painfully long pre-class lead time.)
Starting home ten days later, I’ll reverse the process. All in all, I will be “out” a full two weeks to deliver six days of training.
In retirement in a few years, if I can’t drive it, I ain’t goin’.