Ministry proposes extending visa-free stay to 30 days, e-visa to 90 days

The relaxed policies aim to attract foreign tourists to Việt Nam amid fierce competition from the countries in the region especially after nations have lifted COVID-19 restrictions.

HÀ NỘI — E-visa holders might be able to stay in Việt Nam for up to 90 days, three times longer than the current 30 days, according to a proposed amended Law on Foreigners’ Entry into, Exit from, Transit Through, and Residence in Việt Nam.

An electronic visa, single entry, is currently being granted to citizens from 80 countries via Việt Nam’s National Web Portal on Immigration.

The amended law, penned by the Ministry of Public Security, also seeks to extend the visa-free duration of stay to 30 days (from the current 15 days) for citizens from countries that Việt Nam has unilaterally waived visa requirements.

The current countries on the list where 15-day visa-free stays are applicable are mostly in Europe – Belarus, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Russia, France, Finland, Spain, Sweden, Italy, and the United Kingdom – along with South Korea and Japan.

Tourist visa validity continues to be kept at three months.

The public security ministry noted that the Government will decide on the list of countries and territories whose citizens are granted e-visas and the list of international border gates that allow foreigners to enter and exit with e-visas, taking into consideration that these activities would not constitute a threat to national defence, security nor the social order and safety of Việt Nam.

The relaxed policies aim to attract foreign tourists to Việt Nam amid fierce competition from countries in the region especially after nations have lifted COVID-19 restrictions.

The easing of e-visa policy both in terms of applicable subjects and duration will help attract more foreigners to visit the country and seek investment and business opportunities, creating a driving force to promote socio-economic development in general and the tourism industry in particular, the ministry noted.

The public security ministry is seeking public feedback on the amended law, and the bill is set to be discussed at the fifth and sixth plenary session of the 15th-tenure National Assembly in May and October this year.

The visa issue has received a lot of public attention in recent times as it was blamed for the disappointing number of foreign tourists to Việt Nam in 2022, 3.66 million against the target of five million, significantly lower than the over 19 million tourists the country received in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

In a national conference on tourism chaired by Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính held on March 15, 2023, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Đỗ Hùng Việt has suggested the Government consider expanding the list of countries eligible for visa waivers.

The foreign ministry is also negotiating visa-free stays for citizens from countries with similar or higher development levels to Việt Nam, such as Latin American countries, Qatar, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and Maldives.

Việt also cited a number of favourable visa programmes that other countries are deploying to lure in foreigners, for example, Thailand with 10-year visas targeting rich people, retirees, experts and businesspeople along with their families; or Singapore, Indonesia, UAE all offering long-term visit visas that allow stays up to 10 years.

The country aims to welcome eight million tourists this year, however, this target was set in the beginning of 2023 when China had not yet made announcements on its reopening plans.

Chinese tourists made up one-third of the total international tourists to Việt Nam in 2019. — VNS