12 min

How I moved from Brazil to Portugal

“Dream is building something you want”: What mistakes you shouldn't make again, and why it's sometimes essential not to be afraid to ask for help.

Rogério Santos is the person behind the name Trevor Kenskevyz, used first as a nickname back in the days of Orkut. His friends started to call him by that name, and he decided to embrace the alter ego. The 33-year-old Brazilian, born in Bahia and who lived in São Paulo before leaving the country, began his immigration journey in Spain until he settled in Portugal.

According to the SEF, Brazil has the main foreign community residing in Portugal: 233.138 total (in second place is the United Kingdom, with 36,639 citizens). And in the case of Brazilians, the ways of immigrating to Portugal vary from family ties to work and study visas to just coming and trying luck in search of a better life with the facilities that Portugal has opened up for citizens from countries that speak Portuguese. 

This last was Trevor's case. In this interview for MigRun, he tells why he left Brazil and remembers his journey to achieve stability in Portugal as an immigrant and accomplish his dream.

- Your first immigration was from Brazil to Spain. Tell us why you chose Spain for immigration.

I came to Europe for the first time in 2019. I was 29 years old. I went to Germany and Paris and fell in love with it. I stayed with a friend and didn't want to return to Brazil, but she told me to do it and work on my English, or I wouldn't find any good opportunities here. So I did that. I used to work in a market, and during my free time, I spoke with people I had met in Europe to practice my English.  In the meantime, many things happened. The pandemic and I had a deep depression. Talking to friends, one suggested that I volunteer in Europe using these platforms where you can exchange work for accommodation and food. I went to a workshop to understand how this worked and how I could apply for it. I used the Workaway platform, and there are many opportunities in different parts of the world. I always wanted to go to Barcelona and to live in a city with a beach. ​​​​I found the city beautiful even without having been there. So I applied for an opportunity at a hostel there.

- Why did you decide to leave Brazil? What were you missing in your country? 

Mostly, it's all about security and the fact that you always work a lot and don't have time to live or enjoy. For me, I really wanted to learn different languages ​​and other cultures. In Brazil, if you don't pay for a private course, you don't learn other languages, and not all the schools have language classes, and when they have, most are very basic. I also choose to work at the hostel because of that. I thought I'd have more opportunities to learn different languages ​​and meet more people. 

- Would you call your motivation typical? Do you think most Brazilians leave for the same reasons, or is yours more atypical? 

As I said, for most people, the main problem is economics. People are a little desperate with the situation in Brazil. What I hear most is about this fear of instability. In Brazil, we don't live. We survive. Here, even earning a low salary, you can plan and go to another country by plane, train, go to the beach, or learn another language, which is very difficult there. It's money, security, and opportunity. What helped me here was the language, for sure, but everyone who comes here thinks that life will be better. It's the same, prices have gone up, but here you'll have access to health and safety, and you can travel more often.

- What did you have to leave behind in Brazil?

I left my family, my mother, and delicious food. But I wouldn’t go back to Brazil never.

- Was it difficult to start life in Spain? Did you try to get a residency, and did something go wrong, or did you not plan on living in Spain for long?

It was difficult, but I handled it. I planned to come here as a volunteer, find another job, and get a visa in another country because I didn't want to return to Brazil. In contact with the hostel in Barcelona, ​​they told me that the job would be for three months, the tourist visa time. I asked if I had the opportunity to stay longer and receive a salary. The manager said yes because they were opening another hostel unit and, therefore, would need someone to do housekeeping. They would pay someone to do it as it was more manual work. I agreed. 

I left Brazil with 225€ on February 22, 2022. I sold everything to buy the ticket, and my mother said I was crazy, but I said I would change my life. I came here scared because I didn't know if the volunteering was a scam since the manager didn't give me the host letter. And I had bought return tickets, as I knew this was safer when going through immigration. In the end, everything worked out—travel, work. I arrived in Barcelona, and I felt like home. 

- And how was the work? How did you manage to stay more than the tourist period?

I started working at the hostel. I was able to improve my English. I also got to know people who gave me directions about regularizing my situation. In the meantime, the manager of the hostel chain where I worked, also a Brazilian, moved to Barcelona. She liked me, asked me why I came to Barcelona, and I told her my story. She told me she could help me, and weeks later, she made me an offer to take over the receptionist position at the hostel. She trained me, and I started the new job in April, but my visa was almost expiring. One of the options she gave me was to work at the hostel in Porto in, Portugal, but there was only a vacancy there as a volunteer again, something I didn't want. And that's when something went wrong…

- What happened? 

I consulted a lawyer in Spain to regularize my situation there. He gave me two options: to marry a European or to go back to Brazil and apply for a visa there (Note: We are just have launched the Brazil-Spain route now. If it were up to our lawyer, he would have certainly suggested many more possibilities. Check out the free guides here). Someone offered me the first option, a friend, and I accepted. It was my biggest mistake. He didn't show up on the day we were supposed to make the common-law marriage. I don't know if he got scared. So I stayed another five months in Barcelona but was not ok with all that. I didn't want to be illegal because I wouldn't have support if something happened, like health problems or anything else. Anyway, I learned a lot from that situation. 

- How did you solve that? And how did you end up in Portugal?

It was a very stressful situation. Portugal was еhe only possible place. And I understood that I needed to go to Porto to organize myself since I wasn't feeling safe in Barcelona. So I switched positions with another person who was in Porto. That person came to Barcelona, and I went to Portugal.

- And how did you settle here in Portugal? Are you planning to get a residency, or do you already have one? Step by step: what documents you had to prepare, what visa you chose, and what did you do? 

Before leaving Barcelona, ​​I talked to an accountant to help me get my NIF (a Portuguese tax number) and NISS (a Portuguese social security number). I filled out the forms online, so I already had my documents when I arrived in Porto. 

by Migrun:
▶ NIF or Número de Identificação Fiscal. You need your NIF if you sign a rental agreement, open a bank account, apply for social security, and register your child for school. If you are not a resident of Portugal, you can get a NIF. If you are moving as a family, your children will also need a NIF.

You will need the following documents:
📝 A copy of your passport or id
📝 Proof of address outside of Portugal, from your "home country" (a bank statement will do)

You can obtain your NIF in Portugal at the tax office or order it online through our platform. Read a detailed guide on how to get a NIF here.

👉 You need NISS (a Portuguese social security number) to pay taxes in Portugal or have a local job contract. You can order it here.

In Porto, I wanted to make a statement for the residency request (Note: Article 88.2 – if you have a job in a Portuguese company. Read the detailed guide here). I needed a written employment contract. Again, when I adjusted the situation, went to Finances, and regularized my tax situation by opening the Recibo Verde to receive my salary and pay the correct fees, the hostel fired me. 

About my documents, as I didn't have a contract, I had to open an economic activity at the Finances to apply for the NIF. 

With that, to get the NIF, I presented the following:

  • my passport
  • address 
  • and a contact phone number

 For the NISS, I had to present the following:

  • copies of my NIF
  • passport 
  • and address

So bad news again...

I was already tired. No one saw me the way I wanted to be seen. I had no job, money, or nowhere to go. I met a friend who came from Braga to work in Porto. He helped me a lot. In February of this year, I got a job at the Hilton hotel chain with a contract. I stayed at this hotel for a month as a receptionist. But the hotel was huge, many people came and went, and in a month, I left. I couldn't learn everything in a month, but the manager helped by referring me to other places. Today I am working at a quieter hotel and continuing my work contract. 

I got my Utente number so that I can use the National Health Service (SNS). And now, I have to go to SEF to make a manifest for the residence application. My focus is to get the residency so I can visit my family in Brazil and pick up my things in Barcelona.

✅ Note 1: The Número de Utente

It is an identification number in the Portuguese public health system. If you have this number, you can receive public health care as a citizen.

What documents do you need?

📝 Passport 📝 Resident visa (D) or residence permit or manifestação de interesse 

Read the detailed guide here.

✅ Note 2: So, the main requirements for residency under an employment contract are:

  • You can apply while in the country with a tourist visa.
  • You can apply with either foreign clients as an individual entrepreneur or a Portuguese job contract.
  • You do not need to have a deposit in a bank account
  • You only need to earn above a minimum monthly salary (or equivalent income for self-employment) of at least 760 € (the minimum wage for 2023 in Portugal).
  • You don't need to have higher education.

What documents do you need:

📝 Passport
📝 Proof of legal entry into Portugal (holder of a valid visa, when required, or entry into Portugal within the period of the visa waiver)
📝 Atividade opening certificate or a work contract
📝 Extract from the criminal record from the country of origin
📝 Permission for SEF to check portuguese criminal record
📝 Certificate of criminal record
📝 Long-term rental contract in Portugal
📝 Salary payments or receipts showing income from clients

Prepare the necessary documents from the list and ensure all information is accurate.

  • Register and upload documents at https://sapa.sef.pt/an/default
  • Verify the checklist to ensure that all required documents are included.
  • Upload the necessary documents in the designated sections on Sapa.sef
  • Make sure all documents are scanned in high quality and legible.

Necessary: take a screenshot of your dashboard after submitting your manifestation of interest. You will need the process number later.
After submitting the residency application, you must wait for a visit to the immigration service. The average waiting time is 1.5-2 years. But today, SEF is creating conditions for faster processing of applications from Portuguese-speaking countries' citizens.

Read the detailed guide here.

Individual consultation move to Portugal 🇵🇹
The best way to start your move to Portugal is with a one-on-one consultation with an expert. No fluff, just answers to your questions and valuable advice.
Choose a plan

- Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you like, and what are your goals when you think about the future? 

Today I'm a receptionist at the hotel, and my goal is to work all next summer to save money so I can visit my family in Brazil. I would like to work on other projects. I like fashion, music, and culture. I'm thinking about projects that I can invest in. For example, any ideas in the fashion area, because I don't see this matter much explored here, I miss trend projects and events. They work a lot here, so they may not be interested in fashion. Can be. But it would be interesting for me to study this behavior. I did a fashion production course in Brazil and would like to improve my knowledge in cities like Paris or Milan, which are more linked to fashion. In the meantime, I'm showing a little bit of what I like and some ideas on my Instagram.

- What mistakes were made? Or what advice can you give those who want to move from Brazil to Portugal or Spain? What do you need to do in Brazil? What do you need to prepare?

Looking back, I think I've done all I could. The most important thing was to have my situation regularized and not be in other people's hands. About coming with volunteer work, I'm an exception. I don't recommend it because it's a risky decision. I was lucky because not everyone leaves Brazil with €250 and risks staying in a country that is not their own, without documents and knowing that anything can happen.

Today I live in a room in an apartment that I share with two other people. I always thought that either you take chances or you conform to yourself. I didn't want to stay in Brazil stagnant, tired. I just stayed at home, didn't want to communicate, and had a lot of anxiety and depression. Now, one year and three months since I arrived, I am beginning to stabilize. I also had the help of many people, including the hostel manager in Barcelona and others. 

But I recommend that people come here, but that they try to plan and if they have guidance, it's easier. If I had done everything alone, like filling out the forms to get my documents in Portugal, I'm sure I'd have missed something. One more thing for those considering moving here: bring all the documents. It is worth transferring and validating your documents if you have a degree. This is something that, returning to Brazil, I will organize. 

- You wrote in your Instagram: “Don't expect anything or anything from anyone, take your route, set your goals and your own paths.” What does it mean for you?

When you have a dream it's important not to give up, no matter how cliché this idea may sound. For me, to have a dream is to build something you want. Be curious, study it, and know everything you can about it. My dream was to leave Brazil, and I did it. Now I want to be recognized for my talent, for things I like to do and also to visit other countries, like Finland. Now I can go to different places as I wanted since the beginning because I have met people from all over the world while working at the hostel. And I also think it's important to be grateful to the people who helped you. Even the bad things... What happened to me happened, and still, I'm grateful that I came this far. Our path we trace. There were days when I woke up desperate because I didn't know if my plan would work. But I tried to think one day at a time, one step at a time, believing in myself. Without that, I wouldn't have gotten here. I wanted to change my life and have a better life. And the greatest asset I had was learning.

- What challenges do you currently face with the path of emigration?

The biggest challenge so far has been reaching that moment of stability. The main step towards that was moving out of the hostel. Finding a place to live was very difficult. Finding a place I liked was challenging, in good condition and with good people to share it with. I found the place where I live today, in Vila Nova de Gaia, in a Facebook group. There are many groups there helping with topics such as work and housing. And what I learn most from this experience as an immigrant is that we have to be open to having a good relationship with each other. You won't achieve anything alone.  

🇵🇹 If you plan to immigrate from Brazil to Portugal you can read free guides on visa types in Portugal.

💬 If you have any questions, please message us in the chat. 😎 Suppose you need to decide which visa type to choose. In that case, you can book a 30-minute consultation with our immigration specialist, who is familiar with all the residency options in Portugal for Brazilian citizens.

You can obtain residency as a highly qualified professional with higher education or extensive work experience (over five years). This way is much easier and faster than the way Rogério Santos (Trevor Kenskevyz) had to choose. We can also assist if you already have a contract in Portugal as a highly-skilled specialist, but your company needs to prepare to assist you with the paperwork. 

You can choose the digital nomad visa if you work remotely for a company. Or the visa for individuals with passive income. Or other options.

Our experts speak Portuguese and English. So write us a chat or book a consultation, and we'll help.

Individual consultation move to Portugal 🇵🇹
The best way to start your move to Portugal is with a one-on-one consultation with an expert. No fluff, just answers to your questions and valuable advice.
Choose a plan
Talk to experts
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