July 10, 2020

Major Changes in Vietnam Immigration Policy Since July 1st

At this beginning of July, Vietnam will retrieve the e-visa issue for citizens from 80 countries after more than 3-month closing border due to COVID-19 outbreak. Together with this, significant changes in Immigration Policy also come into effect from July 1st, 2020. Let’s see what updates this country is putting into the policy for foreigners.

Visa Exemption for Coastal Economic Zones

Besides Phu Quoc Island, some other coastal economic zones will also allow visa exemption for international tourists. Vietnam has many coastal economic zones but not all of them are exempt from visas. Coastal economic zones that don’t require visas for foreigners on entry must meet the following conditions:

  • Having an international airport;
  • Having defined geographical boundaries, separated from the mainland;
  • Consistent with the socio-economic development policy and without prejudice to national defence, national security, social order and safety of Vietnam.

The old policy only allowed passport sharing for children under 14 and their parents or guardians. The revised Immigration Law has added 2 instances where General Visas can be issued

  • All tourists who enter Vietnam by sea. The purpose of the visit should be for tourism and included in a program produced by the International Tourism Enterprises of Vietnam
  • Members of foreign military ships who will join plan a formal tour program outside of the arrived port

Residence Term For Tourist Visa

Under the revised Immigration Law, the maximum residence term for a tourist visa is 30 days instead of 90 days as it used to be. However, foreign visitors now have the option to request an extension for the residence term. The immigration authority will then re-assess the purpose to decide to accept the request or not.

Visa Status Update

With new amendments, foreigners can change their visa status without leaving the country if they meet one of the following requirements:

  • Be an e-visa holder
  • Be able to prove their career background as an investor of a specific organisation in Vietnam, an official representative of foreign businesses based in Vietnam
  • Be able to show a work permit or work permit exemption, whatever applies, to indicate that they are invited or sponsored by a local organization or agency in Vietnam
  • Be able to provide evidence of family relationship with Vietnamese citizens (husband or wife, mother or father…)

Visa-Free Re-entry

In the past, foreigners who are granted visa-free entry must wait for at least 30 days from the last exit date in Vietnam to be able to re-enter Vietnam. However, the current law, which takes effect from July 1st, 2020 has removed this limit. That means citizens of countries where Vietnam share a unilateral agreement and grants visa-free entry are free to come in and go out of Vietnam.

Work Permit Applications

Work permit exemption

Foreigners who are in one of the below cases will not have to apply for a work permit under the new immigration system:

  • A non-Vietnamese citizen who is married to a Vietnamese citizen.
  • A non-Vietnamese citizen who are members of the board of management of a joint-stock company, owners or shareholders of a Limited Liability Company (LLC).

A Vietnam organization which is sponsoring a foreign individual can also transfer the sponsorship to the spouse of that individual involved.

Work permit renewal

Vietnam work permits are now valid for up to two years and can be renewed only once.  After reviewed, the permit will hold validity for another two years.

Changes on Immigration Procedures

Aside from the amendment on Labor Laws, there will also be changes to the Immigration Laws of Vietnam.

First is the changing of visa. Currently, in order for a change of visa to be possible, the foreign visitor must first leave Vietnam. Then they can re-enter using the new visa. Thankfully, the new policy has relaxed the rules concerning the changing of visa. In fact, foreigners who intend to change visas no longer need to get out of the country under the following situations:

An investor of a Vietnam company or a representative of a foreign organization with investments in Vietnam.

Family or relative of a Vietnamese national, a parent, child, or spouse.

Invited or sponsored to enter in Vietnam for employment, provided that there’s a work permit or work permit exemption, whatever applies.

Entering Vietnam using an electronic visa or e-visa and was granted a work permit or work permit exemption.

Visa-Free Entry and Exit

For foreigners who came from countries where Vietnam has a unilateral agreement and grants them visa-free entry, it’s no longer necessary that their re-entry date is at least 30 days prior to the last exit date in Vietnam.

Residence Term

The Amended Law on Immigration has recommended a maximum residence term of up to 30 days for foreign visitors. This used to be 90 days under their tourist visa. But foreign visitors will now be given an option to extend the term of their residency when necessary. In line with this, the immigration authority must first re-assess the immigration purpose to decide whether the extension request will be granted or not.

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