In order to enter Vietnam, a foreigner must be in possession of an entry visa (unless he/she qualifies for exemption, e.g. holders of permanent or temporary residence cards) in addition to a valid passport. There are two types of visas: single-and multiple-entry with validity of no more than 12 months. In practice, the duration of the visa granted by the Vietnamese authorities may vary. The Immigration Department (which has the authority to decide the issuance and terms of a visa) exercises discretion in determining the period of validity of visas granted, taking into account the inviter’s proposal, the purpose of entry, and any other supporting documents. Thus, 15-or 30-day single entry visas and three, six, or 12 month multiple-entry visas are commonly granted
To obtain a visa for purpose of business, a foreigner must have an inviter. An “inviter” may be a state body, foreign diplomatic office, office of an international organisation, office/branch of a foreign organisation, Vietnamese enterprise, foreign invested enterprise, Vietnamese organisation, a Vietnamese citizen, or a foreigner who resides in Vietnam permanently or for more than 6 months.
The inviter must write a proposal letter to the Immigration Department to seek approval. Based on the sample form proposal letter, the inviter must state the full personal details of the foreigner, the place of issuance of the visa, the date of arrival, the port of entry, the purpose of entry, whether single or multiple entry is required, and the duration of the foreigner’s stay. For a visa for more than 6 months, supporting documents may be required to evidence need for such a long stay (e.g. appointment letter/decision from employer, certificate confirming status as board member or management personnel). In addition, the inviter must file the documents evidencing its own legal status.
When the Immigration Department notifies its approval, a Vietnamese embassy/consulate abroad or an international border gate in Vietnam (nominated by the inviter/foreigner at their convenience) will issue an entry visa. An embassy/consulate is required to do so within two working days from date of receipt of the passport and visa application of the foreigner. The law is silent on the time limit applicable at an international border gate, but in practice such visas are issued immediately upon receipt of a valid application.
In the following special circumstances, an entry visa may be obtained at an international border gate in Vietnam:
To attend the funeral of a relative or to visit a seriously ill relative;
Arriving from a country which does not have a Vietnamese embassy/consulate;
Entering on a tourist programme organised by a Vietnamese enterprise conducting international tours;
Entering for emergency technical assistance for construction works or projects; to provide emergency aid for seriously ill people or for accident victims or to assist in cases of disaster or epidemic in Vietnam; or other emergency reason.
In the above cases, the inviter must lodge the proposal letter at the Immigration Department at least 12 hours prior to the arrival of the foreigner at the international border gate.
The official fee to obtain a single-entry visa is US$25. In respect of multiple-entry visas, US$50 is charged for visas of up to 6 months validity, and US$100 for visas of over 6 months validity.
This article written by Phillips Fox