Brazil’s former president Jair Bolsonaro, who is under investigation for his supporters’ storming of government buildings, is seeking a six-month visa to remain in the United States, his lawyer said Monday.
Bolsonaro flew to Florida in late December as his term ended rather than watch the inauguration of his leftist successor President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
He is understood to have entered on a visa for visiting world leaders, which expires on Tuesday as he is no longer on official business.
AG Immigration Group, a California-based law firm known for its work with Brazilians, said that Bolsonaro has requested a six-month visa to stay in the United States.
“We look forward to achieving the highest level of satisfaction and desired results for our client,” it said in a statement.
Bolsonaro had previously told CNN Brasil that he had planned to return by the end of January, and was considering moving his departure earlier for health reasons.
The far-right leader was injured in a knife attack in 2018. He has suffered ongoing health complications from that assassination attempt, and received hospital care during his stay in Florida.
But Bolsonaro has since come under scrutiny over the January 8 riot in the capital Brasilia by his supporters who refused to accept Lula’s victory.
The new government has ordered a probe of Bolsonaro, who for years has sought to cast doubt on Brazil’s electronic voting system, which has historically won praise around the world.
Bolsonaro’s last justice minister, Anderson Torres, was also visiting the United States during the riot and was arrested on his return.
Unwelcome for many Democrats
Asked about Bolsonaro’s application, the State Department said that visa records are confidential under US law.
“Therefore, we cannot discuss the details of individual visa cases,” a State Department spokesperson said.
Thousands of Bolsonaro backers broke into the presidential palace, Congress and Supreme Court buildings in Brasilia in an unsuccessful attempt to seek the overthrow of Lula.
Several lawmakers of Biden’s Democratic Party have publicly called on the administration to send Bolsonaro back to Brazil, saying he no longer had a right to stay in the United States as a visiting head of state.
“The United States must not provide shelter for him, or any authoritarian who has inspired such violence against democratic institutions,” said a letter signed by lawmakers including Representative Gregory Meeks, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Joaquin Castro, a prominent progressive Democrat.
Brazilians require visas to enter the United States including as tourists.
Bolsonaro was one of the closest international allies of Donald Trump, another former president living in Florida who has made baseless allegations about electoral fraud.
The Brasilia riot mirrored the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the US Capitol by Trump supporters who did not accept his defeat to President Joe Biden.
Steve Bannon, a far-right populist strategist who worked for Trump, has developed close ties with Bolsonaro’s supporters and raised questions about last year’s Brazilian election.
Bolsonaro, however, has largely kept a low profile since flying to Florida. He has been staying near Disney World at the Orlando home of Brazilian former martial arts champion Jose Aldo and was photographed eating fried chicken alone at a KFC restaurant.