VISAS, WORK PERMITS, RESIDENCY CARDS and VISA EXEMPTIONS
As every expat will tell you – the rules on visas and extensions is like shifting sand. Nothing is certain apart from the fact that things change constantly.
However, even in this precarious, unpredictable environment, you will find many long-term expats who have remained in the country for years simply by extending their 3-month tourist visas.
How does it work?
You enter Vietnam with a 3-month tourist visa. When it is about to expire you extend it by organizing an agent to apply directly to the Department of Immigration for an extension of stay on your behalf. Such extensions do not require the individual to leave the country. Effectively, therefore, you can remain in Vietnam for 6 months without having to leave. After this, however, you will need to do a ‘visa run’. This means leaving and re-entering the country. When you re-enter, you are issued with a new 3-month visa – and it all starts again.
Extensions are not automatically granted, occasionally, the Department of Immigration ‘halts’ granting them completely so it’s wise to have a contingency plan.
Some welcome the visa run as an opportunity to visit neighbouring nations such as Laos, Thailand and Cambodia. But, for those who are time and cash poor, the simplest way is to fly to HCMC and catch a bus to Cambodia and back or look for cheap flight deals to other places.
In short, most expats need to do two ‘visa runs’ a year.
*make sure you leave and return through HCMC as the cost of renewing your visa is cheaper
*get yourself a good agent either online or in Hoi An. Online agents are frequently cheaper
*always check on the latest developments as rules can change
*new visas may be introduced like the newly-implemented 5-year multiple entry visa (see eligibility below) and the recent One-Year Multiple Entry Visa for Americans
If you wish to stay longer than 30 days and/or your country is not listed as eligible for an E-visa, you can apply for a visa online or get a visa upon arrival. There are many online sites that will organise this for you.
1-month single tourist
3-month single tourist
3-month multiple entry tourist
A multiple entry 3-month tourist visa is recommended; while it is a bit more expensive, it gives you the option of being able to leave and re-enter Vietnam in that 3-month period without having to get a new visa when you return.
*Update as of September 1, 2016
American passport holders will now be required to pay $135 for a 1 year, multiple-entry visa on arrival. 1-month an 3-month tourist visas are no longer available for American passport holders.
Temporary Residence Card (TRC) 1 – 3 – 5 Year
Temporary Residence Cards (TRC) are valid for one to five years. The length of the TRC is dependent on your initial visa status i.e. someone with a work permit can be granted a 3 year TRC whereas someone who is an investor in a company can apply for a 5 year TRC)
TRCs will not be issued to a person with a passport that is valid for less than one year.
TRCs may be issued to people with any of the following qualifications:
- Limited liability company (LLC): members part of a LLC with two or more members; owner of a one-member LLC
- Members on the Board of a joint-stock company
- Foreign lawyers who have been licensed by the Ministry of Justice to practice law in Vietnam as stipulated by law
- Foreigners holding a work permit, working in various kinds of foreign enterprises and representative offices of foreign companies
- Professionals, students, trainees, experts working or studying in national programs and projects signed between the ministries and approved by the government
- Accompanying relatives (parents, spouse, children under 18 years of age) of the granted resident card person.
- See this link for more.
3-year Permanent Resident Card
If you are the spouse, child or parent of a Vietnamese citizen residing permanently in Vietnam then you can apply for a 3-year permanent resident visa.
10-year Permanent Residency Card
If you are a foreigner who has temporarily resided in Vietnam for at least three consecutive years (during the last four up to the date of submission of your application) and can be guaranteed by your parent, spouse or child who must be Vietnamese citizens permanently residing in Vietnam then you will be granted a 10-year Permanent Residence Card.
Note: Previously these cards could only be approved by the Prime Minister. However, under new laws introduced on 1 January 2015, the decision-making power was shifted to the Ministry of Public Security. This means the success of obtaining such a card is significantly increased.
5-year Visa Exemption
A 5-Year Visa Exemption is available for Vietnamese residing overseas and foreign citizens who are the spouses or children of Vietnamese passport holders.
If you or your parents were born in Vietnam or if you are married to a current or former Vietnamese citizen, you can apply for a 5-Year Visa Exemption. However, you can only stay in Vietnam for 6 months and then you need to leave and re-enter. In effect it is the same as a 3-month tourist visa but one that is valid for 5 years. The cost to obtain a 5-Year Visa Exemption is only $20 and $10 to renew it. (http://mienthithucvk.mofa.gov.vn)
Contact agents for visas and visa renewals
Note: Many of the online agents based in Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi have very good contacts. They are able to – sometimes – get ‘around rules’. Whenever you need information about extending or applying for a visa always send a photocopy or picture of your passport, including the photo page, the Visa and the stamp page. They cannot advise you without this information and will ask you for it before providing advice.
Online agents (with reasonable reputations)
Vietnam Visa Centre
(managed by English locals in Vietnam & recommended by Lonely Planet)
Vietnam Visa Central
($US 17 for a 3 month DL (tourist) visa on line (one of the cheapest on-line sites around)
Facebook Page: Chi’s Café
(recommended by Saigon Expats)
Bivina Services Ltd.Co
Mobile: +84 (0) 904 701 899
(Work permits, Temporary Resident Cards, Extending Visas, Car & Motorbike licenses etc..)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
(used by Hoi An Now staff)
Ms Chloe: +84 12345 15683
(used by several Hoi An expats)
Hoi An Agents
Mr Hung: +84 (0)905 718 886 (Hoi An)
(the ‘Go To Man’ for visa extensions, he is used by many expats in Hoi An. Note: he only deals with tourist visas)
Mr Dung: +84 (0) 982 513 347
(another extremely well-connected ‘Go To Man’ in Hoi An. He assists with visas – Temporary Resident Cards – only), drivers’ licenses, setting up companies, marriage paperwork; i.e. anything you may need help with. He also teaches Vietnamese to English speakers. While his services are not that cheap, he is very successful in getting things done.)
Visa Hoi An (Tuong Vy) : +84 (0) 975 280 625
Add: 77d Nguyen Duy Hieu, Hoi An
(Tourist visas, Business visas, extensions and more…)
Ms Hoa : +84 (0) 917 481 496 (Da Nang Tours)
Note: For the most up-to-date information also see the following Facebook pages:
Prices change all the time so there is no set price but a rough estimate is $US 145 to extend a 3-month multiple entry visa.Back to previous page