Business visa procedure frustration rumbles on

May 08, 2023 | 13:00
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Inflexibility in the business visa policy is a major barrier to many foreign-invested enterprises operating their factories in Vietnam.

A few weeks ago, Vietnam Ibe Laser Technology Co., Ltd. was expected to take its $15 million factory into operation after three years of construction.

Located in Thuan Thanh II Industrial Park in northern Bac Ninh province, the factory is to manufacture printed circuit board cameras and telescopes, with an annual capacity of nearly 400,000 products. However, visa snags have harmed its progress.

Business visa procedure frustration rumbles on
Business visa procedure frustration rumbles on, illustration photo/ Source:

“Vietnam is a great country for investment thanks to support from local authorities,” said marketing director Liu Xin. “However, the authorities need to simplify the procedures for getting a business visa. Our Chinese colleagues on the board applied for a visa three months ago, but could not come until a few days ago. But their visa will expire in the next week. I don’t understand why Vietnam cannot extend their visa in this case, as they have a company here and a good explanation.”

The complications in getting a business visa is a common problem for enterprises such as Taiwan-invested Ibe Laser, and especially those from the US and EU. In late April, many members of European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham) and the American counterpart (AmCham) sent proposals to the government on the issue.

According to both chambers, the Immigration Department (ID) under the Ministry of Public Security (MoPS) requires complicated documents. For example, it asks for the tax report of the company which guarantees the applicant. This requirement causes difficulty for both the company and the applicant to prepare documents.

It also takes time to get serial numbers and apply at the ID itself. If the dossier does not match with the department’s requirements, the applicant will have to re-submit other dossiers. Authorities also require an employee of the Vietnam-based office to sign immigration documents, which is deemed an unsuitable approach for multinational companies residing abroad.

The Human Resources Working Group of the Vietnam Business Forum reported that foreigners are only allowed to receive business visas at the Vietnamese embassy or consulate of the host country. Therefore, before entering Vietnam, the applicant must ask the business or individual inviting the guarantee to complete the procedures for applying for an entry letter at the Immigration Department.

“During the process there are many problems. For example, many companies succeed in applying for business visas and are approved by the ID, with the visa recipient being Vietnamese embassies abroad. The problem is that the visa approval letter is faxed to the embassy for confirmation but then refused without any explanation,” said AmCham and EuroCham in a proposal to the prime minister.

“The procedures to get a business visa have become more complicated, causing barriers for business operations. Besides this, investors have to be careful with their expansion plans when they are not sure about the process to enter the country.”

Nguyen Dinh Nam, CEO of IPA Vietnam, told VIR that extending the business visa was a simple solution to foster foreign-invested capital. “Many people want to come to Vietnam to look for investment opportunities. They want to stay in Vietnam long enough to study the investment environment and carry out field surveys in many destinations on their business trips, even at industrial parks in the three key regions. But right now they can’t do that because the visa term is so short,” Nam said.

The business chambers have proposed the MoPS and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to simplify the procedures to get a visa. The business community also expects the ID to issue longer business visas and allow the extension of business visas at least once when work permits are being.

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