The economic situation in Brazil has begun to force immigrants to return to their countries of origin or seek other destinations, such as Canada and the United States.

Data from the Missão Paz in São Paulo, an organization which assists foreigners in the city, shows that this year, just 1239 foreigners had been hired by September, 68% less than the same period in 2014.

In employment fairs on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the number of vacancies available has plummeted. The priest Paolo Parise, who heads the Centre of Migratory Studies, says that the number of foreigners hired this year is likely to be only 30% of the figure for 2014.

Most of those interviewed, particularly the Haitians and Africans, were looking for work in construction, a sector that has lost 385,000 formal jobs in the last year. This is more than a third of all jobs lost in the country in the same period, according to the General Employment Register (CAGED, in its Portuguese acronym).

Even those with jobs are considering leaving Brazil in search of better opportunities. With a monthly salary of just R$1000 (USD $266), the welder Joseph Levitique, 30, does not manage to save anything to send back to his family, especially since the increase in the value of the dollar.

His plan is to return to Haiti in January and save money to go to Miami, where he has relatives.

According to Marcelo Haydu, one of the founders of the Institute of Refugee Reintegration (ADUS), tension between Brazilians and foreigners is likely to increase as the situation deteriorates and they begin to compete for the same vacancies.

The Senegalese Pape Embaye, 35, says that he arrived in Brazil in 2010, when GDP growth stood at 7.6% and unemployment was 6.7%, according to the monthly employment survey (PME) of the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), which takes into account the country’s six largest metropolitan areas.

Five years later, unemployment was at 7.6% in August (the most recent data from the same survey) and GDP is likely to fall by 3% this year.

Qualified foreigners have also been affected, says Rene Ramos, partner at corporate immigration firm Emdoc. With more Brazilians unemployed, employers are less likely to hire Europeans, he says.