The number of Brazilian citizens given leave to work in the United Kingdom more than doubled between 2004 and 2015, according to the latest UK Immigration Statistics Report. In a special report Lívia de Souza Vieira looks at the reasons behind the trend, and how Birmingham’s Brazilians are finding a place in the city.
2,260 Brazilians were given leave to enter the UK for working purposes in 2015, up from 1,120 in 2004. But the number entering the UK for other purposes relating to study or family increased even more: from 141,000 in 2004 to 371,000 in 2015, with entry clearance visas granted to Brazilians for working increased from 205 in 2005 to 369 in 2016.
In Birmingham, there are 348 Brazilians, according to National Insurance (NI) data.
The number is likely to be an underestimate because many Brazilians have European citizenship. Data from Eurostat shows that 14,000 Brazilians obtained citizenship in European Union countries in 2014.
The Embassy of Brazil in London explains that there is no official statistic regarding the number or profile of Brazilian communities in the UK:
“An estimate, made jointly by the Embassy and the Consulate General during the 2014 presidential elections, pointed out a community between 130 and 140,000 Brazilians in the United Kingdom”.
Brazilian sociology professor Dauto da Silveira explains that the displacement of people in search of better living conditions is characteristic of a capitalist society and that Brazilian immigration to the UK is not a new phenomenon.
“Some explanations can be given: the number of Brazilians who traveled to the UK, at least until the end of the 20th century, were workers who could not get jobs in Brazil. Besides this, the global crisis of 2008 was decisive for the immigration across Europe and the immigrants of now, according to some data, differ from the past for being more moneyed.
“The fact that we are going through a strong social crisis in Brazil, especially in the last two years, with profound upheavals in social patterns, with a change in social expectation, has made groups try to live in another country. It is possible to say, finally, that the world is experiencing a moment of readjustment of its foundations”.
Diego Petrin is a senior civil engineer who has been living in Birmingham for five months.
Besides improving his English, Diego says it is a good opportunity to live a new professional experience, observing how people work in his field in a developed country.
“Another reason that made me come to Birmingham is the economic and political crisis in Brazil. There is no job in my work area in my country.”
Salissa Busatto has Italian citizenship and has been living in Birmingham for one year and seven months. For her, it has not been easy to find a job as an architect:
“After two months living and studying the English language, I could start as a waitress in a restaurant which had a Brazilian owner. The problems I have found to get the first job are the issues with the language and the fact that previous work experience is required in the UK.”
Now she is working as an interior designer for a website which sells interior design projects. According to Salissa, this job has helped her to build her portfolio in the UK.
Forró is a rhythm and dance typical of the northeast region of Brazil, that has been well known in Europe in recent years. Cassio Matheus is a forró teacher in Birmingham (the classes are at Ort Cafe) and he also plays in the band Forrobamba. With Guilhermino Ramos and Rodrigo Vasconcelos, they give shows in forró houses in London and cities including Birmingham, Oxford, Bristol, and Liverpool, as well as festivals.
“I have been living in the UK for three years — one year and a half in Birmingham. My wife Helena was responsible for making me move to Birmingham and also the fact of its being a big city, where the opportunities in a social career are greater”.
Besides the music, Brazilian food is also appreciated all over the world. The churrasco (barbecue) is one example. In Birmingham, Vinycius Kaizer works as a chef at Viva Brazil — he says he found in the city a better quality of life:
“I moved to Birmingham one year ago, after three years in London, where I graduated at Le Cordon Bleu. Here the cost of living is less expensive, I can live next to my job.”
According to Vinycius, it was not hard to find a job in the UK because of his qualifications and experience. At first, he thought of going back to Brazil, but now he is advancing in his career he says he does not think about it.