Russian women come to Brazil for birth tourism to grant citizenship to children – 04.09.2022 – World

Pregnant with her fourth child, Russian lawyer Alena Tcherepanova, 41, changed her Siberian winter to summer in São Paulo and immediately noticed the difference in her body. “As soon as I arrived, the swelling went down, the skin, the hair, the nails, everything got better. I didn’t have to wear a lot of clothes like in the cold of Russia, something very unpleasant for a pregnant woman,” she says.

The child, baptized with the Greek name of Anfisa, was born on February 26, 2021 by SUS (Unified Health System), in a birth center in the Jardim Mirante neighborhood, on the outskirts of the city. Without mastering English or speaking Portuguese, Alena communicated with the team through a translation application on her mobile phone.

Despite the language barrier, he says the experience at Casa Angela exceeded his expectations. “I was surrounded by the condition that a woman needs at the time. It was very different from what is happening in Russia, where obstetric violence is, unfortunately, very common,” she says. “This warm atmosphere helped me relax. This is the kind of environment in which children should be born.”

In the first contacts with the birth center, the team doubted that she would come here to have the baby in Brazil. “I wrote twice asking for information, and they answered me, but they didn’t seem to think I was going to give birth there.” And it was just about to give birth: a month and a half later, the lawyer returned to Russia, with the baby already with a birth certificate and a Brazilian passport.

Alena is not an isolated case: the demand for so-called tourism of birth in Brazil has increased so much among the countries of Russia, Ukraine and other countries of the former Soviet Union that specific agencies have been created to serve them. The price of the service varies depending on the assistance chosen, but the average is 5,000 USD (R $ 23,000). There are also forums on social networks for the exchange of advice between those who want to come and those who have already had experience.

The goal is to obtain Brazilian citizenship for their children. “The Brazilian passport opens many more doors than the Russian one,” said sociologist Svetlana Ruseishvili, a professor at UFSCar (University of São Carlos), who published a scientific paper on the subject. “Birth tourism has become a strategy to raise migratory capital, that is, to increase opportunities for international travel.”

The Brazilian passport allows visa-free access to more than 150 countries, placing it 20th in the Henley Passport Index, one of the best-known rankings on the subject, with 29 places ahead of Russia.

citizenship by birth

Few countries grant the right to citizenship only at birth – the so-called “jus soli”. The system is common in Latin America, and Mexico, Argentina and Brazil are the three most sought after by Russian families for this purpose, according to Ruseishvili. The ease of regularization for parents of children born in Brazil is another attraction. In the United States, for example, there are “jus soli,” but there are many barriers to naturalizing family members. Travel costs and medical services are also much higher, including the lack of a universal public health system, as is the case with SUS.

Under Brazilian law, the baby’s parents immediately receive a residence permit in the country and, one year later, they can apply for naturalization, provided they live in Brazil and take a Portuguese test.

São Paulo, Rio, Paraty and Curitiba are some of the cities sought after by these families, but the most popular is Florianópolis because it is considered safe and has a good public delivery system.

At the Hospital of the Federal University of Santa Catarina, which began receiving Russian patients in 2014, 19 births of Russian women have been performed so far. “They all presented a temporary address and a justification that they want to obtain Brazilian citizenship,” the institution said.

The increase in the number of Russian women having children in the capital Santa Catarina has generated an alert in the Public Ministry, which suspected that the births could be linked to a network of child trafficking. In 2019, the state court ordered the Federal Police to investigate the cases, and one of the babies was even sent to a shelter for a few days.

In a statement, PF reported that it had conducted a preliminary investigation and found no immigration irregularities or evidence of a human trafficking offense. There was no investigation.

The war led to an increase in demand

Since the start of the war in Ukraine and the isolation imposed on Russia by Western countries, the demand for tourism for birth in Brazil has increased, says Olga Aliokhina Alves, partner-owner of Brazilmama, an agency that serves Russian-speaking families. . since 2017.

“The pandemic has dropped, even because the borders have been closed. With the war, everyone is fleeing Russia and Ukraine, wanting a better life, a peaceful pregnancy, the right to live legally in another country,” he said. she, who participates. an average of two to five families per month.

The conflict has also led some families to decide to stay in Brazil after the birth of the child, instead of returning to Russia, as originally planned.

Packages may only include document assistance or services such as accompanying and birth medical appointments, property rentals, and travel recommendations. The VIP option also entitles you to a photo shoot, a trip to Rio de Janeiro, an intensive Portuguese course and a private driver, as well as a cot, stroller and dressing table rental.

Businesswomen, doctors, lawyers and other middle- and upper-class women are the predominant profile among those traveling abroad to have children, says Ruseishvili of UFSCar. Some of them also seek to fulfill the desire for a natural and humanized birth. “In Russia it is almost impossible to live this experience.”

They usually arrive one to three months before the due date, alone or with spouses and other children. “Some fall in love with the country and stay forever, while others stay only a few weeks until they get a residence permit,” says Alena.

Despite the fact that she returned to her country after giving birth, the lawyer now wants to emigrate permanently to Brazil with her husband and four children. “We’ve been looking for a place to move in a milder climate for a long time,” he says. “Although we only visited São Paulo, Praia Grande and Salvador, we thought we could feel comfortable in any of these places.”

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