The US would treat requests to revoke Bolsonaro’s visa “seriously”.


Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro arrived in Florida on December 30, 2022 – two days before his opponent, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, was to be inaugurated and nine days before a large group of his supporters stormed the Brazilian capital in an attempt to seize the des country to overthrow democratic elections.

But his tenure in the Sunshine State, where some pundits say he may be hoping to stay away from legal troubles at home, could be limited. If he entered the United States on a diplomatic visa, he would have to leave the country by the end of the month or apply for another status, the State Department said Monday, as some lawmakers called for the far-right leader to be extradited.

The United States requires all visitors from Brazil to obtain a visa. But Bolsonaro’s legal status remains unclear. Both the White House and State Department have declined to comment on his visa status, citing the need to protect individual confidentiality.

Bolsonaro was still Brazil’s president when he landed in Florida and could have entered on an A-1 visa reserved for diplomats and heads of state. In an apparent tacit acknowledgment that Bolsonaro could use a diplomatic visa, State Department spokesman Ned Price said Monday that A-1 visa holders have 30 days to either leave the country or enter at the end of their term to apply for another visa.

“When an A visa holder is no longer conducting official business on behalf of that government, it is up to that visa holder to leave the United States or apply for a change to another immigration status within 30 days,” Price told reporters. “If a person has no basis to be in the United States, they are subject to deportation by the Department of Homeland Security.”

“It’s the responsibility of the individual to take care of it,” he said.

Several Democratic lawmakers have questioned why Bolsonaro was allowed to stay after his supporters attempted to overthrow Brazil’s democratically elected government.

The White House said that while it has not yet received any inquiries from Brazil regarding Bolsonaro’s “visa status,” it will “treat seriously” any requests for review or waiver.

“As far as I know, we are not in direct contact with Bolsonaro,” President Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Monday. “So I can’t say definitively about his whereabouts. We have not received any official inquiries from the Brazilian government related to Bolsonaro.”

“The United States is constantly taking action against Visa for all sorts of reasons,” Sullivan said. “But in this particular case, this particular person, because of the legal issues and precedent involved, I must exercise extreme caution in how I speak about this and will therefore allow discretion to be the better part of bravery.”

Fabio de Sa e Silva, an attorney and professor of Brazilian Studies at the University of Oklahoma, dismissed calls for the president not to interfere in individual immigration cases or wait for the Brazilian government to act.

“The Biden administration could revoke his visa immediately,” he said. “There is no need for any formal procedure or request from the Brazilian government or any other authority. It is entirely at the discretion of the US government.”

“Bolsonaro is not an ordinary visitor who just spends time in the United States,” De Sa e Silva said. “He is directly involved in what is happening in Brazil, actions that the Biden administration has already condemned.”

John Hudson contributed to this report.

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