Immigration Application to USA

USCIS Update on Immigration Application for Same-Sex Couples

USCIS, today published additional frequently asked questions on immigration application based on same sex marriages. This is a follow up on its recent announcement of accepting and adjudicating same sex Immigration applications in the same manner as opposite sex couples in compliance with the recent supreme court decisiondeclaring section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional.

Below are the New Frequently Asked Questions published today.

Q1: I am a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident in a same-sex marriage to a foreign national. Can I now sponsor my spouse for a family-based immigrant visa?.

A1: Yes, you can file the petition. You may file a Form I-130 (and any applicable accompanying application). Your eligibility to petition for your spouse, and your spouse’s admissibility as an immigrant at the immigration visa application or adjustment of status stage, will be determined according to applicable immigration law and will not be automatically denied as a result of the same-sex nature of your marriage.

Q2. I am a U.S. citizen who is engaged to be married to a foreign national of the same sex. Can I file a fiancé or fiancée petition for him or her?

A2. Yes. You may file a Form I-129F. As long as all other immigration requirements are met, a same-sex engagement may allow your fiancé to enter the United States for marriage.

Q3: My spouse and I were married in a U.S. state that recognizes same-sex marriage, but we live in a state that does not. Can I file an immigrant visa petition for my spouse?

A3: Yes, you can file the petition. In evaluating the petition, as a general matter, USCIS looks to the law of the place where the marriage took place when determining whether it is valid for immigration law purposes. That general rule is subject to some limited exceptions under which federal immigration agencies historically have considered the law of the state of residence in addition to the law of the state of celebration of the marriage. Whether those exceptions apply may depend on individual fact-specific circumstances. If necessary, we may provide further guidance on this question going forward.

Q4. Do I have to wait until USCIS issues new regulations, guidance or forms to apply for benefits based upon the Supreme Court decision in Windsor?

A4. No. You may apply right away for benefits for which you believe you are eligible.

Q5. My Form I-130, or other petition or application, was previously denied solely because of DOMA. What should I do?

A5. USCIS will reopen those petitions or applications that were denied solely because of DOMA section 3. If such a case is known to us or brought to our attention, USCIS will reconsider its prior decision, as well as reopen associated applications to the extent they were also denied as a result of the denial of the Form I-130 (such as concurrently filed Forms I-485).

  • USCIS will make a concerted effort to identify denials of I-130 petitions that occurred on the basis of DOMA section 3 after February 23, 2011. USCIS will also make a concerted effort to notify you (the petitioner), at your last known address, of the reopening and request updated information in support of your petition.

  • To alert USCIS of an I-130 petition that you believe falls within this category, USCIS recommends that you send an e-mail from an account that can receive replies to USCIS at USCIS-626@uscis.dhs.gov stating that you have a pending petition. USCIS will reply to that message with follow-up questions as necessary to update your petition for processing. (DHS has sought to keep track of DOMA denials that occurred after the President determined not to defend Section 3 of DOMA on February 23, 2011, although to ensure that DHS is aware of your denial, please feel free to alert USCIS if you believe your application falls within this category.)

  • For denials of I-130 petitions that occurred prior to February 23, 2011, you must notify USCIS by March 31, 2014, in order for USCIS to act on its own to reopen your I-130 petition. Please notify USCIS by sending an e-mail to USCIS at USCIS-626@uscis.dhs.gov and noting that you believe that your petition was denied on the basis of DOMA section 3.

Once your I-130 petition is reopened, it will be considered anew—without regard to DOMA section 3—based upon the information previously submitted and any new information provided.

USCIS will also concurrently reopen associated applications as may be necessary to the extent they also were denied as a result of the denial of the I-130 petition (such as concurrently filed Form I-485 applications).

Additionally, if your work authorization was denied or revoked based upon the denial of the Form I-485, the denial or revocation will be concurrently reconsidered, and a new Employment Authorization Document issued, to the extent necessary. If a decision cannot be rendered immediately on a reopened adjustment of status application, USCIS will either:

(1) Immediately process any pending or denied application for employment authorization or

(2) Reopen and approve any previously revoked application for employment authorization. If USCIS has already obtained the applicant’s biometric information at an Application Support Center (ASC), a new Employment Authorization Document (EAD) will be produced and delivered without any further action by the applicant.

In cases where USCIS has not yet obtained the required biometric information, the applicant will be scheduled for an ASC appointment.

If another type of petition or application (other than an I-130 petition or associated application) was denied based solely upon DOMA section 3, please notify USCIS by March 31, 2014, by sending an e-mail to USCIS at USCIS-626@uscis.dhs.gov as directed above. USCIS will promptly consider whether reopening of that petition or application is appropriate under the law and the circumstances presented.

No fee will be required to request USCIS to consider reopening your petition or application pursuant to this procedure. In the alternative to this procedure, you may file a new petition or application to the extent provided by law and according to the form instructions including payment of applicable fees as directed.

Q6. What about immigration benefits other than for immediate relatives, family-preference immigrants, and fiancés or fiancées? In cases where the immigration laws condition the benefit on the existence of a “marriage” or on one’s status as a “spouse,” will same-sex marriages qualify as marriages for purposes of these benefits?

A6. Yes. Under the U.S. immigration laws, eligibility for a wide range of benefits depends on the meanings of the terms “marriage” or “spouse.” Examples include (but are not limited to) an alien who seeks to qualify as a spouse accompanying or following to join a family-sponsored immigrant, an employment-based immigrant, certain subcategories of nonimmigrants, or an alien who has been granted refugee status or asylum. In all of these cases, a same-sex marriage will be treated exactly the same as an opposite-sex marriage.

Q7. If I am seeking admission under a program that requires me to be a “child,” a “son or daughter,” a “parent,” or a “brother or sister” of a U.S. citizen or of a lawful permanent resident, could a same-sex marriage affect my eligibility?

A7. There are some situations in which either the individual’s own marriage, or that of his or her parents, can affect whether the individual will qualify as a “child,” a “son or daughter,” a “parent,” or a “brother or sister” of a U.S. citizen or of a lawful permanent resident. In these cases, same-sex marriages will be treated exactly the same as opposite-sex marriages.

Q8. Can same-sex marriages, like opposite-sex marriages, reduce the residence period required for naturalization?

A8. Yes. As a general matter, naturalization requires five years of residence in the United States following admission as a lawful permanent resident. But, according to the immigration laws, naturalization is available after a required residence period of three years, if during that three year period you have been living in “marital union” with a U.S. citizen “spouse” and your spouse has been a United States citizen. For this purpose, same-sex marriages will be treated exactly the same as opposite-sex marriages.

Q9. I know that the immigration laws allow discretionary waivers of certain inadmissibility grounds under certain circumstances. For some of those waivers, the person has to be the “spouse” or other family member of a U.S. citizen or of a lawful permanent resident. In cases where the required family relationship depends on whether the individual or the individual’s parents meet the definition of “spouse,” will same-sex marriages count for that purpose?

A9.Yes. Whenever the immigration laws condition eligibility for a waiver on the existence of a “marriage” or status as a “spouse,” same-sex marriages will be treated exactly the same as opposite-sex marriages.

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How to find a research project abroad

How to find a research project abroad

Sometimes it can be difficult to find a research project abroad to fit your PHD.

Let’s spend a few suggestions here and hot links! The sites here are not specific to any one area – if you want something more specific engineering, let me know. Some sites are mixed jobs and postgraduate projects.

If you have any more suggestions, please to post in the comments!

Custo de vida em Toronto

Custo de vida em Toronto

Uma das perguntas que sempre recebo é sobre o custo de vida no Canadá. Para começar tudo depende do estilo de vida pessoal e também da cidade onde a pessoa irá viver no Canadá. Eu moro em Toronto, então, verifiquei o custo médio necessário para uma família de duas pessoas. Como não tenho filhos, não posso dizer os custos associados à alimentação, creche, babá, fraldas, esportes, recreação, etc.

Abaixo, você pode encontrar o custo de vida, aproximado, em Toronto:

  • Aluguel (apartamento de 1 quarto): $850 dólares

  • Seguro de aluguel: $30

  • Transporte (1 bilhete adulto – Metropass): $109

  • Alimentação: $300 dólares

  • Telefone: $30 dólares

  • Vestuário: $100 dólares

  • TV a cabo (básico) + Internet (básico): $60

  • Outras despesas: $140

  • Custo total: $1,619

Lembre-se, esses dados não são 100% precisos – tudo dependerá do estilo de vida de cada um. Pode-se reduzir o custo, se ao invés de alugar um apartamento de um quarto, a família optar por viver em um “basement”. Normalmente, os custos de água, gas, TV a cabo, internet estão incluídos no aluguel de um “basement”.

Vale salientar, que ao realizar a locação de um imóvel é exigido o pagamento prévio do primeiro e último aluguel. Deve-se planejar com antecedência, pois o valor será dobrado na assinatura do contrato de aluguel (o primeiro e último mês de aluguel são pagos de pronto), a mobília a ser utilizada (cama, sofá. Microondas, roupas, computador etc).

Cost of living in Toronto

Cost of living in Toronto

One of the questions that I’ve been asked is about the cost of living in Canada. First of all, it all depends on your lifestyle and the city that you are planning to live in Canada. As I am living in Toronto, I decided to try to help out with an average cost for a family of two. As I don’t have kids I don’t know the costs for food, daycare, nanny, diapers, sports, recreation, etc.

Below you can find the cost of living in Toronto (approximately):

  • Rent (one bedroom apartment): $850

  • Rental insurance: $30

  • Transportation (1 adult metropass): $109

  • Food: $300

  • Telephone: $50

  • Clothing: $100

  • Cable TV (basic) + Internet (basic): $60

  • Other expenses: $140

  • Total cost: $1,619

Remember, this is not 100% accurate – it will depends on your lifestyle. It could be less if instead of living in a one bedroom apartment you rent a basement. Usually, when you rent a basement you don’t have to pay for utilities, cable, internet.

In addition, when you’re renting a place you have to pay for the first and the last month. Please plan ahead and remember that on the very first months you will have to pay more as you have to furnish your place (microwave, tv, computer, clothes, etc).

BrazilFest 2013

BrazilFest 2013

Since the heat reaches Toronto, the city prepares a schedule to enjoy the outdoors with many free options. One of the prominent attractions of the summer is The BrazilFest: the BrazilFest brings pastel, caipirinhas, drumsticks, coconut water, cool beer, barbecue, brazilian music, and local artists. The program also has the Beaches International Jazz Festival, reggae festival and many more attractions.

Last Sunday was green and yellow with lots of music and 15 food stalls, the largest being the pastel Monday. The community also enjoyed the delight of feijoada, steak with rice and beans, barbecued chicken hearts and sausage, drumstick, kibbeh, tropical fruit icecream and more. Coconut water, açai, sugarcane juice, caipirinha with coconut water and cool beer.

Lots of children activities were offered, with lots of toys and games on and off the stage. There was a booth where children could go and make their own ice cream.

In the item song, the main attraction of 2013 BrazilFest was a group from Rio de Janeiro, the band performed lots of typical brazilian songs.

The festival was fantastic. The crowd brought their family and friends and enjoyed the Brazilian culture.

How to get a tourist visa and student to Canada

Canadian Visa – How to get a tourist visa and student to Canada

The Canadian tourist visa, unlike the U.S., has long duration and generally goes for 6 months (in rare cases reaches up to 1 year). To get the visa you must provide a justification, which can be a trip to tour or study, lasting up to six months.

Types of visas

  • Single Entry

This visa allows the traveler to enter Canada only once, but there is an exception to this rule, which is to the U.S.. Travelers with single entry visa can go to the U.S. and back to Canada many times as they want, as long as the visa is within the validity period and the traveler does not visit another country besides the U.S..

  • Multiple entries

This visa allows the traveler to enter and leave Canada to any country as long as the visa is valid.

Duration of the visa

The requested visa in Brazil is an entry, so the expiration date it is valid only to limit how long a person may enter Canada. Who’s to say how long a person can stay in the country is the immigration officer in Canada, when the traveler arrives in the country.

Each time the traveler enters Canada, he receives a residence permit, which is the date on which the traveler must leave the country. The standard is that immigration officers allow the traveler to stay for 6 months, but in some cases it may be just the time needed to complete the purpose of the trip (either walk or study), ie. less than six months.

Visa requirements

Every Canadian visa is processed in São Paulo, but it is not necessary that the applicant will personally. For this, you can use services dispatchers.

The Canadian Consulate just created a department authorized by the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration Canada to receive visa applications, called VAC (Visa Application Centre), which will meet on August 19, 2011.

VAC is responsible for:

  • pass on relevant information about the requirements for obtaining a visa, as published by the Canadian Consulate;

  • receive the application and required documents;

  • review applications to ensure that they are complete, and

  • guide them safely to the visa section of the Consulate of Canada in Sao Paulo.

  • return the passport to the applicant and the decision by secure means.

The Canadian consulate is encouraging all visa applicants to submit their applications at the VAC from the 19th of August and take advantage of the differential of the extended business hours and customer service on site.

The documents needed to request a tourist visa are:

  • Forms IMM5257ENU and CIC_Quest

  • Two recent photographs, 3cm x 5cm, the principal applicant and each accompanying person.

  • A copy of the identity card (both sides).

  • Passport or valid travel document. If you have, please provide previous passports.

  • Proof that you have sufficient resources available and to remain in Canada. For example: last income tax with delivery receipt, the last three payslips and / or social contract and bank statements.

  • Evidence of social and economic ties with their country of origin, such as: statements from your employer for the last three payments for work performed (if you are employed); latest update of the documents of incorporation indicating the business bank account (if you are entrepreneur); proof of your enrolment in a Brazilian teaching institution (if you are a student).

According to the website of the Canadian consulate, they do not require the applicant to submit more than one type of proof of income, but the reality is another. They usually require at least two types of evidence, and the IR and extracts from checking or savings account key.

To prove income you can count on help from guarantors (first-degree relatives or business where the applicant works). You may have to be more of a guarantor, and each must submit a letter costing.

Tips for filling out forms

  • In IMM5257ENU:

This form must be completed compulsory computer. People often forget to validate the form. To do this just click a blue button that inserts a barcode on the form, making it valid.

  • In CIC_Quest

This form must be filled out. Answer all questions in a meaningful way is essential to the applicant, for this questionnaire is essential to pass personal information, since there is no interview process. It is therefore based on this questionnaire that the intentions of the applicant are analyzed.

ICMS

ICMS (Imposto sobre Circulação de Mercadorias e Serviços)

O que é ICMS?

O ICMS é o Imposto sobre a Circulação de Mercadorias e Serviços, previsto no artigo 155, II da Constituição Federal de 1988, cujo principal fato gerador é a circulação de mercadorias.

A Constituição atribuiu à União a competência para criar a lei geral do ICMS, a Lei Complementar nº 87 de 1996, a chamada Lei Kandir, nome emprestado de seu autor, o ex-deputado federal Antônio Kandirian ou simplesmente Kandir. Cada estado deve, contudo, estabelecer a alíquota do ICMS por meio de Decreto, o “regulamento do ICMS” ou RICMS. Em São Paulo, a Portaria CAT nº 174/2012 (DOE-SP de 29/12/2012) disciplina o assunto.

ICMS é a sigla que identifica o Imposto sobre Operações relativas à Circulação de Mercadorias e sobre Prestações de Serviços de Transporte Interestadual e Intermunicipal e de Comunicação. É um imposto que cada um dos Estados e o Distrito Federal podem instituir, como determina a Constituição Federal de 1988.

Para atuar em um ramo de atividade alcançado pelo imposto, a pessoa, física ou jurídica, deve se inscrever no Cadastro de Contribuintes do ICMS. Também deve pagar o imposto a pessoa não inscrita quando importa mercadorias de outro país, mesmo sem habitualidade ou intuito comercial.

Esse imposto pode ser seletivo. Na maior parte dos casos o ICMS, que é embutido no preço, corresponde ao percentual de 18%. Entretanto, para certos alimentos básicos, como arroz e feijão, o ICMS cobrado é de 7%. Já no caso de produtos considerados supérfluos, como, por exemplo, cigarros, cosméticos e perfumes, cobra-se o percentual de 25%.

O ICMS é um imposto não cumulativo, compensando-se o valor devido em cada operação ou prestação com o montante cobrado anteriormente. Em cada etapa da circulação de mercadorias e em toda prestação de serviço sujeita ao ICMS deve haver emissão da nota fiscal ou cupom fiscal. Esses documentos serão escriturados nos livros fiscais para que o imposto possa ser calculado pelo contribuinte e arrecadado pelo Estado.

Para o Estado de São Paulo, o ICMS é a maior fonte de recursos financeiros e, para que o governo possa atender adequadamente às necessidades da população, é importante que o cidadão exija sempre a nota fiscal ou o cupom fiscal e que esteja atento para defender o uso adequado dos recursos públicos.

More than 1,000 Super Visas issued every month

More than 1,000 Super Visas issued every month

More than 20,000 Parent and Grandparent Super Visas have been issued since the program’s launch in December 2011, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced today.

The government is committed to family reunification and the Super Visa provides families with the flexibility to spend longer periods of time with loved ones”, said Minister Kenney. “It’s an innovative way of giving parents and grandparents the freedom to travel back and forth between Canada and their home country, helping them stay connected with families and friends both in Canada and at home, without the hassle of having to reapply every time.”

With over 1,000 Super Visas being issued monthly, this has become one of Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s most popular programs. The approval rate remains high at 85 per cent.

The Super Visa is a multiple entry visa that is valid for up to ten years, while offering holders the option of staying in Canada for up to two years at a time. This reduces the need for frequent visitors to renew their status during an extended family visit.

The process for getting a Parent and Grandparent Super Visa is simple and straightforward. Applicants for the Super Visa must provide proof that the host child or grandchild meets a minimum income level, demonstrate that they have purchased comprehensive Canadian medical insurance and undergo the immigration medical examination. To date, almost 99 per cent of Super Visa applicants who met these requirements were approved.

We understand that what families want most is to spend more time with their loved ones, ”said Minister Kenney“. The Parent and Grandparent Super Visa is yet another way the government is bringing families together.”

 

New immigration rules and procedures effective August 1, 2013

New immigration rules and procedures effective August 1, 2013

Effective August 1, 2013, several changes will be made to the immigration rules and procedures.

New rules have been adopted regarding procedures for the intake and processing of certain applications for a selection certificate submitted by permanent workers, investors, businesspeople and self-employed workers. These new rules will be in effect from August 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014.

The points in the selection grid granted to candidates for language knowledge have also changed.

Lastly, a new list of areas of training will enter into effect as of August 1, 2013.

Please consult the information below to determine if these new rules apply to your situation.1

Permanent workers

Maximum number of applications

The Ministry will accept a maximum of 20,000 new applications for a Certificat de séléction du Québec under the Program for skilled workers, beyond which the applications received will be returned.

This maximum number of applications does not apply to you if:

  • you submit an application under the Programme de l’expérience québécoise (Québec experience program);

  • you have a valid employment offer in hand;

  • Citizenship and Immigration Canada has informed you that it has agreed to process your application for permanent residence in Canada;

  • you are a temporary resident and eligible to submit an application for aCertificat de sélection du Québec.

Order of priority for processing applications

Effective August 1, 2013, applications will be processed in the following order:

  • applications from candidates submitted under the Programme de l’expérience québécoise (Québec experience program);

  • applications from candidates who submit a valid employment offer;

  • applications from candidates who obtain points under the factor Area of training;

  • any other application submitted by permanent workers.

Language knowledge

If you submit an application under the Program for skilled workers, be informed that:

  • the weighting in the selection grid for knowledge of French has changed. The level of knowledge required to obtain points for the factor Language knowledge will be increased;

  • the advanced intermediate level will become the minimum threshold from which points will be attributed for knowledge of French;

  • two points may be attributed to the principal applicant for knowledge of written French.

If you submit an application under the Programme de l’expérience québécoise(Québec experience program):

  • the level of knowledge of oral French will be increased:

    • If you choose de demonstrate your level of knowledge of French by means of a standardized test, the level required will now be advanced intermediate.

    • If you choose to demonstrate your level of knowledge of French by means of your education, you must have completed a minimum of three years of secondary or post-secondary studies in French.

Note that henceforth, for students, the application for a Certificat de séléction du Québec must be submitted in the 36 months following completion of the study program.

Areas of training

The 2013 List of areas of training reflects the Québec job market outlook for immigrants.

Investors

Maximum number of applications

The Ministry will accept a maximum of 1750 applications for a Certificat de séléction du Québec under the Investor program, with a maximum of 1200 applications per country, exceeding which the applications received will be returned to the candidates.

This maximum number of applications does not apply to you if:

  • you have an advanced intermediate level of French demonstrated by a standardized test.

New fee schedule

Effective August 1, 2013, you must pay a fee of $10,000 for review of your application for a Certificat de séléction du Québec. Since this fee covers your entire file, family members will not be required to pay additional fees.

Order of priority for processing applications

Your application can be submitted at any time if you have advanced intermediate knowledge of French demonstrated by a standardized test.

Requirements for submitting an application

You must submit your application according to the following requirements:

  • Your application must be received between August 1 and 16, 2013, by regular mail only.

  • The order of priority for processing applications received will be determined by random draw.

  • You can only submit one application.

Businesspeople and self-employed workers

Maximum number of applications

The Ministère will accept a maximum of 500 applications for a Certificat de séléction du Québec under the Businesspeople and Self-employed worker programs, exceeding which the applications received will be returned.

Language knowledge

If you submit an application under the Entrepreneur program:

  • the advanced intermediate level will become the minimum threshold from which points will be attributed for knowledge of oral and written French;

  • the new weighting will apply to principal applicants only.

If you submit an application under the Self-employed worker program:

  • the advanced intermediate level will become the minimum threshold from which points will be attributed for knowledge of oral and written French;

  • the new weighting will apply to both principal applicants (for oral and written) and spouses (oral only).

For help in filing your application contact me at info@brxgroup.ca or call 416-560-1464 (Toronto). Visit our page on Facebook and follow us https://www.facebook.com/InvestorServicesAndImmigration.

Brazil’s precarious new middle class

Brazil’s precarious new middle class demands more

Brazil’s so-called “new middle class” gained recognition worldwide as a symbol of upward mobility. But the wave of demonstrations that brought millions out on to the streets in June has exposed the thin line that separates this group from slipping back into poverty.

They had been planning the evening for more than a year. The groom waited anxiously in the fancy grey suit rented out for the ceremony; the bride arrived fashionably late in a shiny black car, with sparkles from her gown to her crown.

Francisco Oliveira and Taina Ferreira were married in a Catholic church close to Complexo da Mare, the shanty town where they live in Rio de Janeiro.

The proud groom is a 35-year-old construction worker kept busy in Brazil’s booming property business. He says the money spent on the fancy ceremony was worth every penny.

“It was her dream, and making her happy makes me so happy too,” he says.

Like many in Brazil’s new middle class, Francisco and 23-year-old Taina can afford luxuries their parents did not have.

More buying power among the so-called Classe C has meant people have more access to appliances, electrical goods and travel opportunities – but also the possibility of getting married in style, something people here cherish.

In the past decade, Brazilians have increased their spending on weddings by more than 50%.

‘People want a say’

But in June, it became clear that having more access to goods and services was not enough.

Millions of Brazilians took to the streets in demonstrations that swept across the country during the Confederations Cup football tournament.

The protesters had many concerns, ranging from corruption in public life to spending on hosting the World Cup and Olympics. Much of the anger was driven by middle-class demands.

People were asking for more investment in public services, demanding better public schools, hospitals and transportation.

“The people have awoken,” was one of the constant chants heard on the streets.

Jailson de Souza e Silva, who co-ordinates a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in Mare known as the Favela Observatory, says newcomers to the Classe C have been celebrated as consumers but they are now making more demands as citizens.

“It’s great that people have more access to food and different goods. But people want to have a say in politics and a wider participation in decision-making.”

Mr Silva says the Brazilian government has historically distanced itself from the needs of society.

“The population feels that the state takes a lot and gives very little back. Taxes are very high, but the return in terms of investment in health, education, housing and security is still very low.”

Vladimir Safatle, a philosophy professor at the University of Sao Paulo, says there was a period of upward mobility during former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s government, but now people feel this progress has stalled.

“We had a strong growth but we are not feeling a better quality of life. The middle class feels that its salaries are corroded by all the money they have to spend on private services, because public schools and hospitals are so poor.”

‘Basic needs’

Belonging to the middle class in Brazil is not what people may imagine in developed countries, says Renato Meirelles, director of research institute Data Popular.

Here, a family of four with a monthly income of more than $150 (£100) per person is considered part of this group.

“It seems low but the new middle class has seen its income improve a lot in the past few years,” says Mr Meirelles.

Of the 12 million people living in Brazil’s favelas – or shanty towns – more than 60% now belong to this middle class.

“Of course there is still a long way to go. People in this group still have very basic needs, for instance when it comes to education and proper sanitation.”

But Taina and Francisco are an example of a newer generation in Rio’s favelas that is more aware of the importance of education and do not feel trapped by the impoverished lives their parents led.

Taina is the first person in her family to go to university – she is a chemistry student at Rio’s Federal University.

Initially she dreamed of getting a stable job but now sees a wide range of opportunities – and her new husband Francisco wants to follow in her footsteps.

“Things are changing. Most of the people in my community now want to go to college. I think we’ve taken a big step forward,” she says.

First steps

After the religious ceremony, Francisco and Taina arrive, now together, at their wedding party.

It’s in a party venue in the working-class neighbourhood of Ramos, close to Mare. It’s modest but luxurious, with purple and white curtains hanging from the walls, matching flowers and drapery on the tables. The three-tiered wedding cake has a miniature bride and groom on top.

The young couple saved $4,000 (£2,600) to throw this party and invited more than 100 friends and relatives. There is plenty of food, drink and even a folk dance, a tribute to Brazil’s traditional Festa Junina (June Festival) celebrations.

The men put on straw hats and line up in pairs with the women. The married couple duck down to scoot through a tunnel formed by the raised arms of their guests.

These are their first steps as a married couple but they have many ambitions for the future and a growing sense that the mobility which brought them into the new middle class needs to continue.