Meet Daniela Lima!
On February 28, Newland Chase’s Managing Director for Latin America, Daniela Lima, and Simone Pinheiro, Manager of Immigration for our São Paulo office, presented their webinar ‘Brazil’s New Migration Law: Immigration and Compliance in the Spotlight’. The webinar discussed the impact of Brazil’s most extensive immigration law reform in more than 35 years and its impact on companies doing business in Brazil. As the team prepared for the webinar, Global Legal Analyst and webinar host, Kent O’Neil, had a chance to speak with Daniela at her office in São Paulo.
Kent: We’re really looking forward to the webinar this week. I understand there are already more than 150 attendees signed up. Such a hot topic right now. This new Migration Law is a major rewrite of Brazil’s corporate immigration law. You’ve worked with corporations and their foreign employees in Brazil now for almost 20 years. What do you think is going to be the new law’s biggest impact on doing business in Brazil?
Daniela: Yes, it’s generating a lot of interest.
It is an exciting time for global business right now in Brazil. I believe the new law is going to greatly increase the ability of Brazilian companies to recruit more and higher-calibre foreign talent. With the new flexibility to bring in foreign nationals using visit visas and then complete the work and residence authorization process in-country, coming to Brazil to consider employment becomes far easier.
Sure, in the short-term there will be transition pains as immigration officials get familiar with the new process, but in the long-run the process will become faster and more convenient, and businesses in Brazil will benefit.
An immigration lawyer, Daniela graduated in 2003 with her law degree from Faculdades Metropolitanas Unidas. However, by that time, her career in global mobility was already in full swing, already having worked for several years as an expat relocation and immigration consultant in the corporate arena. After receiving her law degree, she rose to a partnership role where she directed expansions and new office openings in the United States, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Panama, and Mexico. From 2012 to 2017, before coming to Newland Chase, Daniela established and managed the Brazilian and Latin American immigration practice unit for a major international law firm.
Kent: Did you always want to be an immigration lawyer?
Daniela: (chuckles) No. I was young and looking for a job when I saw an advert for an intern to help expats relocating to Brazil. I didn’t even know what an expat was!
Kent: So you’ve gone from having to google the word “expat” in order to apply for the job to being an expert in global mobility?
Daniela: And the learning never stops. I learn and grow more in my professional skills and personally every day. It’s one of the things I love about my job.
A prolific speaker at international conferences and an author of numerous publications, including Brazilian immigration guides for Lexis/Nexis and Thomson Reuters, Daniela is a recognized expert on corporate immigration in Brazil. Acknowledging her accomplishments and numerous contributions to the mobility profession, Worldwide ERC made her their Distinguished Service Award recipient at their Americas Mobility Conference in Houston, Texas in 2016.
Kent: Aside from the obvious impressive resume items – becoming director of Latin American operations for now two firms, earning your law degree while still working, receiving ERC’s Distinguished Service Award, etc. – what are some other professional achievements of which you are proudest?
Daniela: I’m always proudest when we complete a case for a happy client or get a call from a new client who has heard of our success and wants to work with us… but I also had a recent positive experience during the preparation of the normative resolutions for the new Migration Law this year. Colleagues had told me that they were having difficulty getting meetings or more information on the coming changes from government officials. Shortly thereafter, I received a call from the government asking me if I’d read the drafts of the normative resolutions and help by providing them with comments and suggestions before they were finalized. After fighting with them sometimes over cases for clients, it was nice to have them recognize my expertise and passion for making the system better, not just for my clients but for Brazil as my home country. It felt good.
Kent: You said “making the system better for Brazil”… I’ve always found it interesting how many professionals in our industry, and Newland Chase in particular, view what they do as more than just a job but a service to their countries and the world to improve things… growing businesses, economies, providing jobs.
Daniela: Definitely. I’ve always seen my job as more than just legal processes… but a service to people. I always ask myself, ‘How can I connect with someone? How can I make this experience better for everyone?’ A couple years ago, I founded an informal industry group here in Brazil of mobility and immigration professionals from all different companies, even competitor firms… we now meet regularly to advocate change and to help improve the immigration system for everyone. Brazil is already one of the 10 largest economies in the world, but it still has so much more potential. If we can make it easier for business to grow here, the economy grows, and we all benefit.
Kent: Now for the toughest question, if you were not Managing Director of Newland Chase Latin America… what would be your dream job?
Daniela: I would love to be a travel writer for Lonely Planet, travel the world visiting new places, tasting new flavours, new experiences, and writing about it. I have travelled a lot already… and I travel around the world everyday through skype and email, working with people from all over. But I never get enough. There are always new places to see and new things to experience.