• New Immigration Law to be Implemented January 1, 2015
  • August 1, 2014
  • Law Firm: Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen Loewy LLP - New York Office
  • A new Vietnamese immigration law will take effect in Vietnam on January 1, 2015 to expand the number of immigration categories, introduce new entry and exit restrictions and eliminate in-country change of status procedures.

    New Visa Classification Structure

    Under the upcoming system, foreign nationals will apply for a visa based on their occupation or intended travel purpose, with distinct visa categories for occupations such as investors, lawyers, or journalists. Each visa classification will have its own maximum duration period ranging from 30 days to five years. The new structure will increase the number of immigration categories from four general groups to twenty specific visa classifications.

    The full impact of the new visa structure will not be known until implementation details are released by the Vietnamese government. The change is intended to give visa applicants and sponsors greater clarity regarding permissible activities and maximum duration.

    New Entry and Exit Restrictions

    There will be greater restrictions on entry for individuals with adverse criminal or immigration records from any country. Foreign nationals deported from Vietnam will be banned from entry for three years. Minors under the age of fourteen will not be permitted to enter Vietnam unless traveling with a parent or legal guardian.

    Foreign nationals will not be permitted to exit Vietnam if they have not fulfilled all tax obligations, are facing criminal charges or administrative sanctions, are serving a criminal sentence, or are a party to any civil, economic, labor, administrative or marriage litigation in Vietnam. Foreign nationals whose exit is prohibited by these circumstances will be barred from leaving Vietnam for up to three years.

    Elimination of In-Country Changes of Status

    Foreign nationals will no longer be permitted to change from business visitor to work authorized status from within Vietnam. Currently, work permit applicants commonly enter Vietnam on a multiple-entry business visa and extend the same for the duration of their work permit, or obtain a Temporary Residence Card. It is unclear at this time how this new policy will impact the work authorization process. Fragomen is seeking clarification from government officials.

    What This Means for Employers

    The new immigration law is evidence of Vietnam’s efforts to establish entry and exit policies that provide more clarity to employers and foreign nationals. The full impact of the new law will depend on how it is ultimately implemented. The government is expected to release a circular with implementation details later this year.

    For companies sponsoring foreign nationals into Vietnam, it will be important to monitor updates on how the Vietnamese government intends to implement the new law as it relates to business visits, work permits and work permit exemptions. Fragomen is monitoring developments in Vietnam and will issue updates as they arise.