The never-ending adventures of a travel writer in Vietnam, Cambodia, New Zealand and throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Vietnam Visa Clampdown?

I've received several reports of Vietnam Immigration declining to renew (or issue new) 6-month multiple-entry business visas. These are the mainstay of retired expats and expats working freelance or temporary/seasonal jobs.

This follows a clampdown earlier in January, when Vietnam Immigration limited the number of people receiving 1-year visas (residence permits).

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. It may mean the revival of the old-fashioned expat visa-runs to Phnom Penh. This was the common practice before I arrived in Vietnam. Visa processing became easier in 2003/2004 and such trips became unnecessary when most tour companies and bus-ticket sellers could arrange new visas.

Why Vietnam would clamp down on visas is unclear. Expats are not taking jobs away from Vietnamese (if anything they are merely doing the jobs that local workers are unable to do because of a lack of skills) and they are not benefiting from any social programs here (non-existent though they may be). Likewise, expats are pumping money into the economy via their living expenses and other purchases.

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