Vietnam is working to grant a one-year visa to U.S. citizens on their travels or conference trips to the Southeast Asian country, an immigration official said Tuesday.
U.S. tourists or business travelers can only apply for a three-month, single-entry visa for their Vietnam trips, and the American business community has repeatedly called for the term to be extended.
“The Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs is expected to approve the proposal to issue a one-year visa for these visitors,” Tran Van Du, deputy head of the Vietnam Immigration Department, told the Vietnam Business Forum (VBF) final-term meeting in Hanoi.
Du was responding to the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (AmCham Vietnam), which complained at the forum that Vietnam’s current visa rule toward American passport holders is inconvenient and disadvantageous for both countries.
AmCham Vietnam is an independent association of companies with the objective of promoting trade and investment between Vietnam and the U.S, according to its website.
The Vietnamese law on immigration was amended in June 2014, and was officially put in place on January 1 this year.
Sherry Boger, governor of the board for the Ho Chi Minh City chapter of AmCham Vietnam, said the immigration law had been amended without referring to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal, which was reached by the U.S. and 11 other countries in the Pacific Rim in October.
The law stipulates the three-month, single-entry visa for U.S. citizens who want to enter Vietnam for business and tourism purposes, similar to the B-1 and B-2 visa types as per U.S. immigration rules.
The short validity and single-entry requirement show that the amended law is “a shortcoming” for Vietnam, according to Boger.
Such a requirement is obviously causing difficulty for both Vietnamese and U.S. tourists and business travelers, Boger said, adding it could even reduce the Southeast Asian country’s tourism revenue.
The current visa rule can also leave a negative impact on the tourist industry, which is one of Vietnam’s five prioritized fields, she said.
Boger underlined that the Vietnamese should apply a multi-entry, 12-month term to U.S. vacationers and businesspeople, otherwise the U.S. would apply a similar three-month, single-entry policy to Vietnamese visitors.
Vietnamese citizens who wish to enter the U.S. for business and tourism purposes can now apply for a multi-entry, 12-month visa, Boger said while warning that the term and requirement may be changed to three-month and single-entry in the near future if the Vietnamese immigration rule remains unchanged.
David W. Carter, from the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam, said Vietnam currently waives visas for only 21 nations, which is still modest compared to such regional countries as Malaysia (164), the Philippines (157), and Thailand (52).
In response, Du said the immigration department is consider scrapping visa requirements for Australian and New Zealand citizens to boost trade, investment and tourism with these countries.