On 16 December 2019, at the Office of the President, the Deputy Minister of Public Security announced the issuance of the Law on Entry, Exit, Transit and Residence of Foreigners in Vietnam 2019 (“Immigration Law 2019”). The Immigration Law 2019 will take effect from 01 July 2020.

Important changes

In order to attract foreign investment, the Immigration Law 2019 has undergone significant changes:

  1. Regulations on visa exemption

The most important change on the visa-free regulation is that the Immigration Law 2019 adds another circumstance where foreigners are entitled to visa-free entry and a maximum time limit to stay 30 days. Accordingly, visas are exempted for foreigners who travel to a coastal economic area which meets the following conditions:

  • Has an international airport;
  • Has separate space;
  • Has a definite geographical boundary, separate from the mainland;
  • Conforms to social and economic development policies; and
  • Does not harm national defense, national security, social order and safety.

According to an official of the Standing Committee of National Defense and Security, before the issuance of the Immigration Law 2019, Phu Quoc Island already piloted the visa exemption and experienced positive results in attracting foreign investment, while at the same time ensuring national security and defense. Therefore, when the Immigration Law 2019 takes effect, Phu Quoc Island will continue to benefit as it is currently the only area which meets all the conditions above.

  1. Regulations relating to visas and temporary residence cards

In order to distinguish foreigners with work permits from those without work permits in Vietnam, the Immigration Law 2019 stipulates visa abbreviations granted to foreign workers as follows:

  • LD1 – issued to foreigners who work in Vietnam without work permits because of ineligibility, unless the international treaties to which Vietnam is a signatory have contrary regulations;
  • LD2 – issued to foreigners who are required to have work permits to work in Vietnam.

Other notable amendments to the Immigration Law 2019 are the principles regarding the abbreviations and time limits of visas and temporary residence cards (“TRCs”) granted to foreign investors. These different abbreviations and time limits for investor visas and TRCs issued are based on the amount of capital contributed by foreign investors (see Table 1 below).

These changes are consistent with the Government’s policies of foreign investment attraction. Moreover, the division between the different amounts of capital contribution will prevent foreign investors with only small capital contributions from remaining in Vietnam.

  1. Regulation related to tourists

The Immigration Law 2019 stipulates that tourists who have visas with a time limit of 30 days or more, will only be entitled to a temporary stay of 30 days. This compares to the current regulations where tourists are able to stay 03 months. The new law is stricter to keep tourists from abusing the law to commit illegal activities in Vietnam.


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