Vietnam extends automatic stay for stranded foreigners as COVID-19 continues
| Foreign tourists walk on Bui Vien backpacker street in downtown HCMC, March 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyet Nhi. |
The move involves a one-month extension to the current policy, issued in mid-May that allowed foreigners entering the country on a tourist visa, e-visa or visa exemption since March 1 to have their stay automatically extended until June 30.
With the latest announcement made by the Immigration Department under the Ministry of Public Security on Tuesday, foreigners will be automatically given free permit extensions until July 31, meaning they could leave Vietnam within the time period without undergoing official procedures.
Those who entered Vietnam before March 1 are also eligible to have their stay automatically extended until the end of July if they could prove they were stranded in Vietnam due to the COVID-19 pandemic as confirmed by relevant diplomatic missions, or could provide documents issued by Vietnamese authorities to confirm they were quarantined or treated for COVID-19, among other reasons.
Any foreigner who has been given automatic temporary residence permit extension has to declare their residency and health status as per regulations.
Those who do not fall into the aforementioned categories or who commit violations shall be subject to Vietnam’s existing laws.
As a measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Vietnam shut its borders by suspending all international flights on March 25, halting the issuance of new visas for all foreign nationals since March 18.
Thousands of foreigners stuck in Vietnam amid travel restrictions have been repatriated in recent months.
At a government meeting in Hanoi last week, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc stated Vietnam was not yet ready to open up to international tourists given the lack of improvement in the global situation and the second wave of infections suffered by several countries in the region, including China and the Republic of Korea.
With Vietnam’s borders remaining closed, foreign visitor numbers in the first half dropped 55.8% year-on-year to 3.74 million.
Vietnam has gone 75 days without community transmission of the novel coronavirus. It has recorded 355 infections without any deaths. With five patients confirmed to have recovered on Monday, the country now has 20 active cases left.