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What Sort of Visa is Bolsonaro Here On?

BRASILIA, BRAZIL - MARCH 25: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro speaks with press at the official residence during the coronavirus  (COVID - 19) pandemic at the Palacio do Alvorada March, 25, 2020 in Brasilia, Brazil. President Bolsonaro recently defended the nation's return to normality and the end of social distancing and quarantine. (Photo by Andressa Anholete / Getty Images)
BRASILIA, BRAZIL - MARCH 25: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro gestures during a press conference amidst the coronavirus (COVID - 19) pandemic at the Palacio do Alvorada March, 25, 2020 in Brasilia, Brazil. Bolsona... BRASILIA, BRAZIL - MARCH 25: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro gestures during a press conference amidst the coronavirus (COVID - 19) pandemic at the Palacio do Alvorada March, 25, 2020 in Brasilia, Brazil. Bolsonaro recently defended the nation's return to normality and the end of social distancing and quarantine. According to the Ministry of health, as today, Brazil has 2271 confirmed cases infected with the coronavirus (COVID-19) and at least 47 recorded deceases. (Photo by Andressa Anholete / Getty Images) MORE LESS
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January 9, 2023 1:23 p.m.

A number of you have asked me via email just how it is that Jair Bolsonaro is in the U.S. at all? He may be informally on the lam or trying to stay out of the reach of Brazilian authorities. But he didn’t come seeking asylum. I told these readers I figured former heads of state and rich people and just VIPs generally don’t have much problem making extended visits to the United States. But really, I had no idea. But this Reuters story has what seems like the real story. It’s much more interesting and suggests more planning.

There’s such a thing as an A-1 visa which the U.S. reserves for heads of state and high-ranking government officials. Bolsonaro entered the U.S. on his second-to-last day as president. (He pulled a Trump, refusing to participate in the inauguration of his successor.) There’s no way to know specifically without more information from U.S. consular authorities. But according to consular officials and outside experts, Bolsonaro almost certainly entered the U.S. on his A-1 visa.

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