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VIETNAM – Revamp of Immigration Policy for 2015 and Beyond
July 22, 2014
For 2015, Vietnam is already undertaking an active role as a growing economic power in the ASEAN community of nations.
Compared to the more developed economies, the emerging market economies have the advantage of a large, younger workforce and the opportunities to develop both natural and human talent resources to attract companies from around the world. Vietnam is a good example of this next chapter in global economic development.
Viewed as a country that has longer-term economic potential, Vietnam is catching the attention of the international business community. International container shipping and logistics companies are taking more notice of Vietnam’s enviable seaport access. Building, expanding and upgrading more port logistics means efforts are also underway to create better inland rail and roadways (e.g., ASEAN’s Mekong Sub-Regional Road Network). From a human capital perspective, the future of global mobility will be in those countries where the majority of the world’s population will reside. As Vietnam has a large, young and eager workforce, this economy represents both a great resource for workers and a market for imports.
For any country, the blessing of rising economic growth also brings the need to target human capital needs and leverage overseas talent as part of a smart global strategy. In an effort to accommodate new growth and attract overseas talent, the National Assembly of Vietnam approved the new immigration law on June 14, 2014. The new law is expected to come into effect on January 1, 2015 and include key changes as follows:
A revamped immigration program introducing up to 20 different visa categories
Inability to “regularize” status from one visa type to another
New durations of stay for visas and Temporary Residence card
Introduction of new, prohibited conditions for entry and exit
The draft law includes the following specifics:
A) Proposed new visa categories:
Visa DesignationCategoryValidity of VisaTemporary Residence Card
1) NG1-NG4DiplomaticUp to 12 mos.Up to 5 years
2) LV1-LV2Working with Vietnamese authorities/partiesUp to 12 mos.Up to 5 years
3) DTInvestor/Foreign Atty.Up to 5 yearsUp to 5 years
4) DNWorking with Vietnamese EnterprisesUp to 12 mos.N/A
5) NN1-NN2Chief Rep Office, Head of Project Office of Foreign NGO, Chief of Rep Office in VietnamUp to 12 mos.Up to 3 years
6) NN3Foreign Staff Members of NGO’s and Rep OfficesUp to 12 mos.N/A
7) DHStudents/InternsUp to 12 mos.Up to 5 years
8) HNAttending meetingsUp to 3 mos.N/A
9) PV1Journalists with Permanent Residence in VietnamUp to 12 mos.Up to 2 years
10) PV2Journalists with Short-Term Residence in VietnamUp to 12 mos.N/A
11) LDForeign WorkersUp to 12 mos.Up to 2 years
12) DLTouristUp to 3 mos.N/A
13) TTDependents of Categories 2,3,5,7,9 and 11Up to 12 mos.Up to 3 years
14) VRVisiting Relatives, Other PurposeUp to 6 mos.N/A
15) SQRelated to MOF, Consulate with the purpose of market research, visiting relatives, tourist, medical treatmentUp to 30 daysN/A
B) Change of Status Prohibited – According to Article 7, Point 1 of the new law, the purpose of the visa may not be converted from one purpose to another. The interpretation is that a Tourist visa holder (DL) would be prohibited from converting his or her status to a work visa (LD) while in Vietnam. Readers are advised that as this is a proposed new law, implementation of the change of status provision may be subject to change.
C) NEW ENTRY/EXIT PROHIBITIONS – The new law contemplates the following changes to Vietnam’s border enforcement policy:
1) Prohibited Conditions for Entrance:
- Any person that was deported from Vietnam within the last three years;
- Any person that was deported from Vietnam within the last six months;
- Any person presenting forged travel documentation and/or providing false information in connection with entry/visa and residence permit application;
- A child under 14 years of age traveling without an accompanying parent or custodian.
2) Prohibited Conditions for Exit – A foreign national may be prevented from departing Vietnam for up to three years in the following cases:
- His or her tax obligations have not yet been fulfilled;
- He or she is obliged to fulfill or comply with an administrative sanction;
- He or she is charged with a crime in Vietnam or must serve a criminal sentence;
- He or she is a defendant or a person with related rights and obligations in a civil, economic, labor administrative or marriage litigation case.
The Take Away:
2015 marks an important year for smaller Asian countries to operate as a unified trading bloc with China and other countries. The ASEAN Economic Community is scheduled for officially operating within the global business community as a regionally integrated economy.
Vietnam’s ability to take advantage of this new trading opportunity will include liberalizing its national immigration policy. The timing of the proposed changes to immigration categories and qualifications may be a result of advocacy by Vietnamese business organizations such as the recent Vietnam Business Forum 2014 and EuroCham Vietnam to proactively address what has been viewed by international business as a somewhat overly-restrictive policy for foreign talent needs.
For this posting, LGI thanks Resident Vietnam Ltd. for its updates and general guidance regarding proposed changes to visa categories and border enforcement.
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