Vietnam extends visa, residency terms for foreigners

By Anh Minh, Thanh Nien News

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Foreign tourists on a street in downtown Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Minh Hung Foreign tourists on a street in downtown Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Minh Hung


Vietnam will begin issuing five-year visas and resident cards to foreign investors starting in January of 2015.
In the past, foreign investors could only obtain one year visas and residency cards that lasted three years.
The Law on the entry, exit and residence of foreigners in Vietnam will go into effect on January 1,  and double the number of visas the country offers to 20.
A given type visa may not be changed once the visa holder has entered Vietnam.
The law will also extend the three month visa term offered to overseas Vietnamese to six months.
Foreigners visiting economic zone along the border and special administration and economic zones will no longer require a visa.
People from countries that enjoy a unilateral visa exemption can visit Vietnam an unlimited number of times. However, they can only visit the country at least 30 days after their the preceding visit.
Vietnamese immigration officers at border gates will be able to issue visas to citizens of countries that lack a Vietnamese consular presence, those traveling the region, those who have booked tours with international tourism agencies and those entering Vietnam to visit seriously ill relatives or attend a family funeral.
The law will also grant the Minister of Public Security the authority to approve permanent residency for foreigners.
The procedures for issuing temporary residency cards have reportedly been simplified and extended the permission from three to five years.
According to the General Statistics Office, more than seven million international visitors came to Vietnam in 2014.
Currently, citizens of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member countries do not require visas to enter Vietnam, which waives visas for single-entry visitors (of up to 15 days) from Denmark, Finland, Japan, Norway, Russia, South Korea, and Sweden.
Since March 10, foreigners have been able to visit Phu Quoc Island in the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang for up to 30 days without a visa. The visa waiver also applies to foreigners transiting throuhg any airport or seaport in Vietnam on their way to Phu Quoc.

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