The July 1 2020 Vietnam Visa Rule Changes

So Vietnam passed some new regulations that directly effect their tourist visas that now go into effect on July 1st 2020. The biggest and most significant change is the "permitted to stay" stamp which has now been changed from 90 days to 30 days.

I went to immigration to ask about how this effects unique cases like mine where I have a 1 year tourist visa (as the US and Vietnam have a special reciprocal agreement  and they had no answers for me. I specifically wanted to know that as an American, am I going to really have to leave the country every month? 

It appears that way for now until they have some sort of process setup to allow foreign tourists to extend their stay in country.

But if they don't develop a process, it functionally makes a 1 year tourist visa pointless. Just get a 1 month, visit and leave going forward once everything gets back to normal after Covid.

In the official law, which you can check out here  it does appear to have some way to be able to extend in country, but we will see how that plays out.

If they end up out sourcing that to private companies which want to charge foreigners $100+ per 1 month extension, no one is going to be happy about that and it will kill off tourism beyond a coming here for a few days.

It will also make it more difficult to attract teachers and skilled workers as the current process everyone follows is to come here on a tourist visa and then submit the required documents to change their visa type which is a process in and of itself.

Having to leave the country every month, or pay an excessive fee to extend 1 month is unreasonable if you're trying to get everything setup here for work at a school or company.

Imagine you want to visit Vietnam. 

You pay for a visa, but every month you need to give your passport to some company and for a week every month you don't have your passport with you and you have to pay an excessive fee.

So for a 3 month trip to Vietnam, you'll have to pay for a 3 month visa for most nationalities and then pay $200 to extend the full length of your potential stay.

3 month visa for Vietnam: $50 roughly
2 extensions visa a private company: $100

$250 USD for a 3 month tourist visa just to visit Vietnam? Give me a break. I can just go to Thailand, get 1 month free on arrival or pay $40 USD for a 3 month visa.

It's crazy. No one is going to come here beyond a month then. It dangerous also to constantly hand off your passport. What if the company loses it? Then it becomes a massive problem for you as the company won't be held liable obviously.

I've gotten a few comments too from Vietnamese saying "good, foreigners take advantage of SE Asia and exploit it." 

But I'm not sure how this helps or how foreigners exploit SE Asia. You're driving away people from spending money in a part of the world where tourism is a thriving industry. I do agree with cracking down on people who work on tourist visas, don't follow the rules etc.

But there are people like me out there. Self employed guys who travel and who follow the rules. I'm just a bit annoyed because I was told originally that I could get  a 1 year tourist visa and all I would have to do is leave every 90 days.

Then surprise! We're changing the rules.

If I knew it was going be every 30 days, I would have never come here in the first place as it's a waste of time and money for me to leave every month.

Also, Vietnamese tend to equate "foreigners" with white people. I'm not sure why as their is large community of Koreans, Chinese and Japanese. All of which will also be effected by these changes.

Also, I'm culturally different from a South African or Russian. It's a bit annoying to be lumped together as Vietnamese don't appreciate being considered "the same" as Thais or Cambodians for example.

Time will tell if this immigration policy change is good or bad

So to conclude, immigration has no idea what is going to happen going forward as I could not get a clear answer. Will you be able to extend in country? No one knows. Will you need to use a private company to extend every month? Well you can do that now and the price I'm always quoted is $80-100.

Last, should you still visit Vietnam? Yes, of course, but going forward it may appear to be a country where you can only come for a few days as they appear to be making a longer term stay impossible.