Short-term low-skilled labour migration has increased internationally during the past two decades of rapid economic growth, in response to deficiencies in local labour supply in developed countries. Ireland was one of the newer states to recruit labour internationally on a large scale from the late 1990s until the global economic downturn in 2008. Various forms of short-term migration, as well as both documented and undocumented employment, followed. This paper discusses the experience of Brazilian migrants in Ireland who assume particular interest because of being a new migration stream over a great distance, which involved relatively short sojourns in Ireland for many before returning to Brazil. Changing government work permit policies for non-European Economic Area citizens, European Union enlargement, and economic recession all contributed to reduce the opportunities for legal employment in Ireland. This paper is based on research with workers who were initially recruited for the agricultural processing sector in two small towns in western Ireland through an existing link with the province of Goias in Brazil. The evidence differs from some other studies of international labour migration in that data collection took place in both Ireland and Brazil. It highlights in particular the vulnerability of short-term migrants to labour policies and the economy in host countries. Copyright (C) 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.